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Our First Christmas and New Year Down Under

It was different of course...we're not accustomed to celebrating Christmas during the summer season with 80+ degree weather and significantly fewer Christmas decorations compared to the States. But this year was especially different and difficult for everybody. We were forced to celebrate alone with only Facetime greetings! At least Rob and I were able to talk to our family and feel comforted with knowledge that all of them are still alive and well. We acknowledge that a lot (too many) of people are having to endure the holiday season without some of the their loved ones due to Covid-19 or other reasons. 😥

We had made plans to travel to Hunter Valley and Sydney for the holidays to spend time with a former exchange student and her family, but COVID-19 reared its ugly head in the Sydney area, which caused the state borders to close once again. So, while we weren't able to travel into New South Wales or be with friends over the holidays, we did take the opportunity to travel within Queensland.

Early December: The company Rob works for hosted a Christmas party with dinner, Christmas pudding, karaoke, and a gift exchange. We got our very own Christmas crackers or bonbons, which included a small toy, a riddle, and a hat or crown.

Christmas Day: We started the day with Facetime chats with family in the States. Rob had to improvise for his Christmas hat...a gift bag. Keep in mind that it was actually Christmas Eve for them. After holiday wishes were electronically sent far and wide, we drove up to Sandgate Beach and Shorncliffe Pier. Apparently, the primary Christmas activity in Queensland, at least, is spending the day at the beach. We saw lots of folks picnicking, barbequing, playing cricket, fishing, and swimming. And most were donning Santa hats. 🎅

Noosa Heads Getaway: A couple of days after Christmas, we drove a few hours north of Brisbane to check out Noosa Heads, QLD. We found a beautiful Airbnb called the Alexandria Retreat located up in the hills overlooking Noosaville, Noosa Heads, and the Pacific Ocean. It was a quiet, peaceful location with amazing views and incredible meals (breakfast). It was a true bed and breakfast. We enjoyed fish n chips and drinks at the Sunset Bar on the Noosa River and what Rob claims as the best seafood chowder at Grenny's Restaurant. In addition to exploring Noosa Heads riverbank and restaurants, we also got to go kayaking on the Weyba River to see Stingrays. Weyba is the aboriginal word for stingray, which is where Lake Weyba and Weyba River get their name. The lake and river are fairly shallow, which makes for a safe and secure place for young stingrays to grow away from bull sharks and other predators. We were fortunate to see several stingrays during our outing. Did you know that a group of stingrays is called a fever?

Alexandria Retreat, Doonan, QLD:

Noosa Heads & Weyba River:

New Year's 2021: No fireworks in Brisbane this year. We were bummed but understand the risks with large crowds. We'll certainly survive, and we are far from living a rough life. We enjoyed some perfect weather for walks along the river and dinner at Popolo's Italian Restaurant right along the Brisbane River at the end of the holiday week while we rang in the new year.

We feel incredibly lucky to be in Brisbane and the Sunshine State of Queensland where there is next to no Covid-19 cases. The people are gracious, friendly, and welcoming. The country is loved, embraced, and beautiful. Australia is home to indigenous people and immigrants from all over the world. Some are citizens, some are on various types of work visas, and some are simply tourists. All, however, seem to share a sense of world citizenship responsibility and care. I guess I could describe it as a mentality of, "It doesn't matter where you come from or where you're going. We must all take care of each other and the world we live in."

Brisbane at Sunrise at the new year!

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