After having a great time in Perth with Diane, Chris, Leon, Sophie and Diesel, we took an internal flight to Sydney to visit Vanda's relatives. Her cousin Julie picked us up from the airport and took us straight into the city to see the spectacular 'Vivid' - an annual festival where light shows are displayed on the city buildings. We watched a tall mushroom shaped 1970's office building transformed into a tree, with branches and leaves literally growing up the 'trunk' and then birds flying between the 'branches'. We enjoyed a drink in the Opera House bar, watching the famous Opera House building transformed with a projected display of tiles being blown off to display the inside of a house, which then filled with water and had fish swimming through it! Really amazing.
We stayed with Julie and Harry, her 2 year old Corgi (or Prince Harry Longbottom as we nicknamed him..). As a great host, Julie had taken the week off work and took us up to their farm in the Blue Mountains. We stayed at the cabin on the farm which is 120 acres and in a stunning location, set in a valley surrounded by towering craggy cliffs. We spotted numerous kangeroos and put a lot of effort into seeing wombats, but, unfortunately to no avail. We could see where they had their burrows and wandered the farm with a torch from 10-12pm (dressed in coats, woolly hats and gloves (supplied by Auntie Helen) as it was freezing!), but with no luck. We made the most of the wood burning stove in the cabin to keep warm, although that didn't help much when you needed the loo in the night - which was an open air model! ;-) But we're pretty unshockable now on the toilet front (oops- might regret saying that as we're about to head into the depths of Africa for 7 weeks!!..) We slept well with 2 duvets, 2 blankets and 2 hot water bottles, and woolly hats on!
We had a great time in the Blue Mountains and were really lucky with the weather with lovely clear blue skies. But it was their winter so we couldn't complain about the temperature being a bit chilly. We went to some amazing look-out points, to see the huge gorges and eucalyptus forests stretching as far as the eye can see.
Back in Sydney we spent a couple of days with the rest of the family, Auntie Helen and Max, cousin John and his 3 children, Ashleigh, Ethan and Dean, not forgetting Marley (the staffy) and Midnight (the black fluffy cat, that amazingly looks like the black dragon in the movie 'How to train your dragon'). As typical aussies they insisted on a 'bar-b' even when the rain was lashing down, but at least agreed that we could eat indoors.. It was great to see them and get to know them again, after not visiting for 8 years, and they made us very welcome.
We enjoyed exploring the local area with Julie and Harry, going for walks, and visiting some of the areas of national park nearby. We found people very friendly and even went to friends of Julie's for a classic Aussie breakfast of pancakes, which was lovely.
We shall miss the family and hope to see them again, before another 8 years....