We didn't actually have a barbie, nor any shrimps to throw. Bummer. But it was pretty darn fine nonetheless...
We had booked our Christmas accommodation 8 months ago (!), and had purposefully picked somewhere extra special for the festive period. It did not disappoint.
We stayed with an adorable couple, Lorraine & Brett and their two gorgeous soft-as-anything dogs, Dolly & Max. They have the most beautiful show house standard home, minutes from the beach on Australia's Sunshine ('Sunny') Coast. We'd been in contact on email quite a bit beforehand so it felt more like greeting friends when we arrived in the afternoon of Christmas Eve.
We enjoyed a cuppa on their breezy veranda whilst getting to know each other. They made us feel very welcome and we felt relaxed from the moment we stepped through the door.
Our room was huge with a lounge area at one end complete with comfy sofa, flat screen TV and dvd player. We were greeted with a pretty welcome tray... easily as good as a 5 star hotel!
Lorraine & Brett were the type of hosts who think of every small detail to ensure the comfort of their guests. We felt pampered and genuinely cared for, it was so lovely and exactly what we needed.
First job was to get supplies in for our Christmas Day picnic on the beach... not a turkey insight!! At dusk, we wandered down to the beach seeing as we would be spending Christmas Day here! It was the first beach that reminded us a little of the beaches back home (especially Shell Bay). It was less developed but the sand and sweep of the bay was very similar to back home. We ended Christmas Eve curled up on our sofa watching The King's Speech with a bottle of red... ahhhhhh.
We even had a couple of things to open thanks to my Dad and cousin Jill sending us cards and a parcel. Ant and I did away with cards but our present to each other this year was an iPad Air which we bought in Hong Kong for about £70 less than UK prices
A leisurely start and picnic made, we headed off to the beach around midday. Our hosts had lent us an array of beach stuff which made our trip all the more enjoyable... beach chairs, parasol, picnic basket, magazines, all manner of tupperware... even delicious carved ham for our sandwiches. It was ace!
No mince pies, sprouts, stuffing... so what did we have? Well, I admit I would have loved some prawns on the barbie but we had ham sarnies, sausage rolls, olives, tabouleh, cheeses, crackers, grapes, cherries, raspberries, pineapple.... and of course, Aussie beer! It was great fun setting up for the day, chilling under the parasol, watching the odd surfer go by, writing messages in the sand, reading and catching up on blog writing.
We virtually had the beach to ourselves until 4ish when several people turned up, bellies full of Christmas barbies.
We can't deny we've really missed the usual Christmas build up and catching up with close friends and it didn't feel like Christmas at all, but as a different experience it was fab being on the beach. No Christmas dinner timings, shopping stress, over-eating or washing up!
We spent the evening on the fairy-lit veranda planning our Western Australia loop and drinking bubbles. It was Christmas afterall...
We were only a 40 minute drive from Australia Zoo, of Steve & Terri Irwin fame, so we took the opportunity to visit from our Marcoola base. It was pretty good (if a bit sweltering), the highlight being a 40 minute show in the Crocoseum (I know) which was hosted by Terri and their two children, Bindi and Robert. There was an excellent flying display of various birds which swooped into and exited the auditorium with impeccable choreographed timing. A Jabiru (large stork) landed very gracefully from its enclosure and the most wowsome (new word?) was a South American Condor... lordy, this thing was HUGE. A whole 3 metre wingspan. Out of its usual context this was birdus giganticus and a real jaw dropper.
The show wouldn't have been complete without some croc feeding and death roll demonstrations. Whatever you thought of him, it's pretty sad that Steve Irwin is no longer around to share in his family's success and legacy. His son has only just turned 10 and apparently today was the first time he got to feed a croc in front of an audience.
We wandered around the rest of the zoo at leisure, getting our sweat on. Lots of Aussie stuff to see... 'roos, koalas, wombats, echidnas, kookaburras, big crocs... a really enjoyable day out and we weren't fighting the crowds either.
Know how you feel in this heat mate...
Last night in our gorgeous base so we settled down to another film. I embarrasingly got a little choked when we said our goodbyes the next day, as the stay had been so nice and they'd been really good to us in a 'mom and pop' sort of way. They'd even given us a Christmas present, three cute tea-light holders with nautilus shells on to remind us of our beach stay. Amazingly warm people and a very different but fantastic Christmas!
PS. my ugly bites were thankfully a flash reaction and by Boxing Day had significantly gone down... phew. Things are definitely on the up!