Day 1,790 of Traveling the World | Sydney and Palm Beach, Australia | December 31, 2022

The last day of a wonderful year for us – back to traveling the world. We visited about 20 countries this year, starting in early April. So many beautiful places! And this post includes great spots both in and outside of Sydney. We took an outing north to Palm Beach (Australia, not Florida) and the Barrenjoey Headlands and Lighthouse with our new friend, Fred. We met him when we attended the Town Hall Christmas Concert, had a lot of travel stories in common, and went for coffee after the concert to continue the conversation. He then suggested a day trip – driving us to Palm Beach, which is a beautiful beach about 30 miles north of Sydney.

Our trip to Palm Beach was on Boxing Day, so the traffic got quite heavy in places. As Americans, we always thought Boxing Day was just one of those British Commonwealth “observed days,” like Flag Day or Earth Day are for us, where you hear about it on the news the day it happens, but nothing is closed. Not true. It is a real holiday with days off and everything, so much so that if it falls on a weekend they take a day off during the week. We asked Fred how the day after Christmas got to be a significant holiday, and he seemed to think it had something to do with unions trying to get as many paid days off as possible. In actuality, it was the day in past times when wealthy homeowners “boxed up” money and gifts for their servants, since they all had to work on Christmas Day.

Fred’s plan, once in the area, was to climb UP a fairly steep mountain to visit the Barrenjoey Lighthouse. He gleefully pointed to the tiny, tiny lighthouse way up on a hill from the parking area (it looked like it was 20 miles away!) and said – “We are climbing up to see the lighthouse!” Yeah, right. Only Fred and Mike made it up – the steep incline was a bit much for Jan’s knees, so she waited at the bottom and greeted everyone making the ascent. The view from the lighthouse was breathtaking, and we have photos to prove it!

In Sydney, we attended a Young Organists Day concert, again in City Hall, with so much talent on display. And we visited The Grounds of Alexandria, in an up-and-coming restored warehouse district in Sydney. The Grounds is an outdoor food court, with several different venues, all gorgeous, all wildly decorated for Christmas. It was even snowing in one of the walkways! We want to go back after the holiday visitor numbers have died down, as it was so very crowded. But beautiful.

The attractive Grounds of Alexandria – this is the prettiest dining area, with flowers, fountains, and chandeliers! (Notice that there is a fan overhead, and it was running and much needed!)
One of The Grounds’ walkways where it was “snowing” in the warm summer afternoon!
Were we naughty or nice? We can’t decide!
St. Mary’s Cathedral on Christmas night, the last night of their festival and nightly projections onto one the side of the building.
…and a Christmas tree!
We posted a daytime photo of The Archibald Memorial Statue in Hyde Park last time, but this is the lighted version as evening fell. Magnificent! This is just across the street from the cathedral.
The young organists in front of Town Hall’s grand organ console and pipes. It was a complete privilege to hear their difficult pieces and the work they put into learning them. Two were only in 6th grade!
The chandelier and dome in the foyer of Sydney Town Hall.
A kite surfer at Palm Beach.
The water of Palm Beach is so clear, you can see the rocks on the bottom!
The beach sand is beautiful, fine, and soft.
The Barrenjoey Lighthouse.
View from the top of the Barrenjoey Headlands, as the peninsula splits the ocean in two (for a little ways, at least).
One more view from the top!
At The Grounds: “Be Merry – Eat Pops.” Nope – nothing seductive about that!
Luscious-looking close-up of the Parfait Pop.
…and a festive caramel-corn cake – we would love to be going to a party where we could take one of these!

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