We took a breather from the intensity of the First Lego League Asia Pacific Invitationals where our daughter was competing to take in some of the Sydney sights this week. Having travelled the eleven-hour trip south from our usual balmy Brisbane for the event, the bare branches and chilly air felt novel. The city arguably does have one of the most beautiful harbours in the world.
Seventeen years ago, I used to work in the shiny green, glass building smack bang in the middle of Central Quay. Eating my lunch every day against a backdrop of Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House became a mundane part of my routine. However, having had a lengthy break from the place, I was able view it again with all the same delight as the many other tourists milling around.
As a person far more comfortable in a regional town than a sprawling metropolis, I regularly gravitate towards the Botanical Gardens in a city to get respite from the crowds, noise and fumes, finding they never fail to ground me. On this particular occasion we found the grounds of Government House nestled there – or should that be Government Castle? We were delighted to see the governor, Margaret Beazley, herself whip past us in her car and through the guarded gate. Before too long it was time to return to Macquarie University to find out the results of the robot competition.
Proudly, the Building Bots team and their robot ended up a respectable 12th out of 40 on the leader board. On returning north, we have stopped over at the picturesque beach-side village of Arrawarra, situated fifteen minutes north of Coffs Harbour and only five minutes up the road from Woolgoolga. There we enjoyed catching up with some old friends who gave us a locals' tour of the area, including a wander over the headlands to whale watch.
Coffs Harbour is itself the holder of one of Australia’s most iconic landmarks, The Big Banana! Knowing we were going to stuff ourselves here with banana splits there the following day, we first headed out to the waterfront and followed the pier to Mutton Bird Island. This steep outcrop is actually a rookery where the birds build their burrows beneath the vegetation to lay their eggs and hatch their young. The view of the humpback whales regularly breaching, slapping their flukes (tails) and pectoral fins against the water, was an awe-inducing sight.
As always, during the holidays I indulge in uninterrupted writing time, continuing to submit fiction where I hope it might be a good fit. It was exciting to receive an acceptance several weeks ago, and I look forward to sharing more details about this when the story goes to publication in spring. I've also decided to add a 'Story of the Season' section to this site to keep the momentum going. If you are a blogger or writer who would like to swap a guest post please feel free to drop me a line on the contact page.