Merry Christmas from Sydney

The crew have been enjoying some free time in Sydney the boats have been lifted out of the water to be cleaned and a new anti-fouling layer to be applied. Many family have travelled here to see their loved ones and to celebrate Christmas in much hotter weather than back in the UK which is pretty weird. The Hobard race will start tomorrow and there is great exitement among the crews.

The Unicef crew has cycled 1000 kms in its bid to cycle the length of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race (628 nautical miles/723 miles/1225 kms). The crew have cycled on static bikes at the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia over the last four days. Their challenge finished a few days ago in driving rain and lots of wind, akin to the conditions of the notorious Bass Strait on the famous offshore race. Crew members from the Unicef yacht were joined by crew and skippers from other teams who cycled in the Race Village at the CYCA, Rushcutters Bay, Sydney.

After my arrival in Melbourne last week, I picked up a campervan to travel the 800 or so miles to Sydney. Visited Phillips Island to stay overnight next to one of the popular surf beaches being woken up at 5 in the morning with the arrival of guys in wetsuits getting ready to hit the waves. Spend Sunday in Wilsons Promontory National Park which is surrounded by the sea on three sides and has spectacular wildlife and wilderness. Visited Squeaky Beach walking on the quartz sand to hear the sand squeaking under my feet. There is only on road along the west coast. The rest of the park can be explored on foot in 2 day hikes. This is a place I would love to come back to when it is less warm. Today the temperature was again around 40 oC.

Another highlight was the Sapphire Coast Drive in New South Wales (NSW) from Merimbula to Tathra and further east to Bunga. An incredible picturesque area of small fishing harbours, beaches and beautiful houses. Watched people fishing at the old Wharf in Tathra while a pod of dolphins passed close by. After a lot of cooling rain during the night the temperature has been a nice cool 27 oC that day but then a day later the nights are 14 oC. Barmy weather in Australia.

Kangaroo Valley south of Sydney is a wonderful area of hills covered with rain forest. Illawarra tree top walk is a 472 meters long walk way high up in the trees with wonderful views over the valley below and there are a number of high waterfalls which can be visited with a short hike. But the best $12 ( £5.70) ever spend was in the Minnamurra Rainforest park, a one mile loop walk and a 1.5 miles walk to a spectacular waterfall.

Spend yesterday and today in Sydney, sorting out the China Visa visiting the UNICEF team and driving west towards the Blue Mountains for Christmas.

Next week the team will start their Hobard race and I will be spending time in the Blue Mountains west and south west of Sydney.