Leslie’s Letters 1-1-2017: Ozzi-land

Sydney Harbor Sunset

January 1st, 2017 letter con’t: We found Sydney as equally modern and beautiful as Auckland. There didn’t seem to be grime anywhere. The underground mass-transit trains appeared new. The roads were perfectly paved. Much pride of ownership was displayed in well-maintained homes and buildings. The public parks were very organized with clean toilets!! Eric’s brother, Curtis and his partner, Joel were the most incredible hosts, taking their work vacation days to spend 2 weeks with hanging out with us. We couldn’t have experienced a more incredible time with them and their personal backyard aviary.

Trent Rigney and Australian Rainbow Lorikeets

Passing quality time with Curtis and Joel was a priority while we worked in some of the iconic must-visit sites during our two weeks in New South Wales like touring Macquairie University to see where Curtis has been teaching Chiropractics all these years.

Chiropractic Lecture Hall created by Curtis Rigney.

Hiking the Sydney Bridge to see a 360 degree view of the entire Sydney Harbor was a definite highlight of our Australian experience.

Rigneyskandu waving at you atop the Sydney Bridge! Click on the VIDEOBridgeclimb
Eric and Leslie Rigney on the Sydney Bridge, December 2016

We took the rapid transit train from Epping several time with Curtis and Joel to travel into the marina district of Sydney called the Circular Quay and The Rocks. Incidentally, Sydney harbor is the most beautiful city harbor I’ve ever seen. All of us ferried over to Manly Beach, a fabulous surfer town not unlike Hermosa Beach. Later with Julie Keizer and Blake, Kandu crew caught another ferry to Watson’s Bay where we gorged on fish’n chips. Both of these were charming Sydney Harbor suburbs.

Walking from the ferry stop through Manly to get to the beach.

The day after Christmas we caught a performance of “A 1903 Circus Extravaganza” in the iconic Sydney Opera House Concert Hall, we then strolled around the incredible sail-like structure to take in the views and nearby botanical gardens. Click on the Video: Sydney-Operahouse
We spent a memorable day with Curtis and Joel hiking and riding up, down, all around as part of the “Scenic World Discovery Tour” in high-flying gondolas, and in an impressive steep grade mining railway – to see the three sister pillars and witness the blue haze caused by the offing of eucalyptus oil in the air.

Trent and Eric Rigney with Three Sisters rock formation in the background.
Rigneyskandu messing around on a decomissioned railway tram.

Wanting to see up close and personal the live endemic animals of Australia, Curtis suggested we spend a morning at a local New South Wales animal shelter called the Koala Park Sanctuary. There we got a chance to pet and feed koalas eucalyptus leaves, and pet and feed wallabies and kangaroos to our hearts content. Click on the Video: KoalaPetting

Daily, just off Curtis’ back porch, we fed directly out of our hands, a flock of 15 Sulfer Crested Cockatoos, Rainbow Lorikeets, wild turkeys, Australian Magpies, Australian King Parrots, Kookaburras, and Galahs. Wow! Such amazing wildlife within arm’s reach.

Cockatoos galore. Click on VIDEO: Lorakeets-KingParrot

Kookaburrah just off Curtis’ backyard. Click VIDEO to hear: Kookaburrah-Calls

Keeping active, the boys enjoyed fun times and surf at some of the famous New South Wales surf spots: Mona Vale, Bonzi beach, Bombo Beach and Terrigal of the Central Coast which was introduced to us by dear friends, Julie Keizer and Blake.

Rigneyskandu with Blake prepping to surf Terrigal Beach, New South Wales, Australia.

Hurray – the waters were a warm welcome compared to those of New Zealand, even enticing me to join in the wave action, boogie boarding. Unlike surfing in the Society Islands where spiky coral reefs hide just under the waves, surfing in NZ and Australia had the benefit of being sand breaks. The boys relished in the freedom of not having to worry about getting caught on coral.

We spent a beautiful day together as a family cooking, eating and drinking on Christmas Eve. Not having spent Christmas together last year (Remember when Kandu and crew whisked off to save a friend’s fishingboat?), it was important for the holiday season to feel like Christmas, sharing the traditions of: a Christmas tree and stockings, giving and receiving gifts, preparing and sharing traditional holiday food, and most importantly taking note of our Blessings.

Rigneyskandu chez Curtis and Joel for Christmas Eve Dinner 2016. Click on VIDEO: Merry-Ozmas-2016

On New Year’s Eve, Curtis, Joel, Joel’s sister, the boys, Eric and I all rode the rapid transit train into Sydney to catch the Sydney Bridge light show and fireworks. It was an incredible testament to an enormous peaceful gathering of all races and traditions using mass transportation. Thousands of people descended on the area to delight in the extraordinary spectacle packing food and drinks. The boys brought along the card game Uno. We started playing and a friendly Pakistani onlooker asked if he could play along – International friendship at its best!

Rigneyskandu at Sydney Bridge New Year’s Eve. Click VIDEO to see fireworks: Syd-New-Years-Eve-2016

Happily, we had the chance to meet up twice with our Ozzie friends from s/v ‘Blue Heeler,’ an eclectic couple with 2 boys of similar age to Bryce and Trent who are similarly avid surfers and skateboarders. We had met them sailing in Moorea and Papeete, Tahiti, and really wanted to catch-up with them in Australia.

RigneysKandu on Wee Kandu in Marina Papeete with Django and Quinn from s/v Blueheeler.

We also chanced to be in Sydney at the same time as Ventura buddy Charlie Richards with his family. At the Circular Quay train station, we said our farewells, till the next time.

Bryce & Trent’s Ventura surf buddy Charlie Richards in Sydney! Click VIDEO: ThreeJumping

3 thoughts on “Leslie’s Letters 1-1-2017: Ozzi-land”

  1. I LOVE how all the pictures of you all are of big smiles and big body gestures!!! I continue to be so jealous of this adventure you’re on!! Safe travels to you guys and keep the pics and stories coming! I look forward to getting new posts.. I’ll be going back to my crappy job now… ugh.. can I meet you guys in the next country and tagalong? 🙂

  2. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE all your photos and especially the commentary – you are a gifted writer that allows us all to be apart of your adventure! Safe travels!

  3. I absolutely LOVE Australia and, yes, Sydney is a wonderful city with the most amazing harbour. But you have to see the rest of Australia the next time you go. It’s worth several months of exploration. You’ll fall in love again and more profoundly.

    I will add, with all due respect, that your Sydney NYE fireworks video does not quite capture this glorious event in Australia. If you’ll permit me to share a little video from Sydney’s 2010 NYE. https://1drv.ms/v/s!AnWeTNn9Ph64hoQTXLtS1G13IVJsug

    😉

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