Sydney 2011

Michael Hughes and Ger White
Mon 3 Jan 2011 05:51
We arrived in Sydney almost 4 weeks ago, now, so due for a blog update!!
After sailing into Sydney Harbour, we spent our first 2 nights at anchor in Farm Cove---between the Opera House and Botanic Gardens. We had intended only one night, but the location was so good--right next to the opera house--that we decided to stay and admire the view--we didn't even leave the boat--just chilled and gazed in awe!! (and drank and ate and brushed our teeth etc)
And then to our marina berth at the Spit--north of the Harbour, about 20 minutes by bus from central Sydney. A bit of boat maintenence, some tourism in Sydney--and a 2 day trip to Ger's sister in Canberra by bus. Then on 19th December we hired a car and motored to Byron Bay--with a night en route at Port Macquarie.
Byron Bay was for Christmas week--a big crowd--Andrew & Emma, Emma's parents, 3 brothers, grandma, and various friends and girlfriends--over 20 for Christmas lunch, and plenty of partying outwith the main event! A really nice time, only slightly marred by continuous rain and drizzle--the north-east of Australia is having a wet time, lots of flooding etc. We did have one lovely day on the beach--our first day--before the clouds and rain set in. But it was a fun week
Nice drive back to Sydney after Xmas--we went back by the inland route, having gone up by the coastal road. We stopped en route at a very nice B&B in Armidale--rolling countryside--very green--and the following day we were driving through the Hunter Valley, famous for its wines.
Back on the boat in Sydney, we were joined by Mary and Keith--Ger's sister and brother-in-law--on the 30th, prior to leaving the marina early on 31st to get a good anchor spot in Atholl Bay for the new year fireworks. We were at the bay before 1100--but already lots of boats--nevertheless we found a nice spot to anchor, with a great view of the bridge, opera house etc. And then the looooong wait in beautiful sunny weather!!!!  Chilling, excellent lunch and dinner, I had a swim off the stern--the others didn't join me--a snooze, ice-creams from the boat boys.....and then the children's  fireworks at 9pm, a procession of lit boats, a carnival atmosphere with so many boats--small boats squeezing in during the evening--and at mid-night the main event--awesome fireworks from the bridge, opera house, barges in the Harbour, tops of tall buildings--great show.  By about 1 in the morning the boats were thinning out, but we stayed put at anchor and eventually went to bed--it was a very calm night.
Back to the marina on the 1st.  Then on 2nd--yesterday--we had a nice sail down the the Royal Yacht Squadron for lunch, with Bill and Heather (cousins) and friends of theirs, Andrew (the member) and Penny. A lovely lunch, good craic, nice sail with increasing wind and a sunny day.
So all is well on board Simanderal. Today has been a maintenance day--up the mast fitting a new bulg, fixing rubber strip on dinghy, Ger doing washing etc. We're invited to tennis and lunch at Bill & Heather's on Thursday and hope for a bit more sightseeing before we leave for London on the 9th---we'll then be back on board on the 30th.