In the summer of 2016, after graduating from university, our daughter Charlotte moved to Sydney, Australia — her boyfriend, Jackson, was the main draw :). Knowing that Jackson was planning to ask Charlotte to marry him, we knew that we just had to spend Christmas in Australia to be part of the excitement and to get to know the man our daughter is going to marry and his family better. It was an amazing three weeks but if I had to share my top 5 highlights of our trip – this is what they’d be (in chronological order):
1. A Night at the Opera House
A visit to Sydney would not be complete without seeing the Opera House, and the best way to experience the Opera House is to see a show there. So, on our second full day in Australia, that’s what we decided to do. We had an amazing night, beginning with dinner at the Opera Bar, followed by the show Circus 1903 (part Broadway show, part traditional circus) in the Opera House’s Concert Hall. I don’t know what was more thrilling: being in the iconic Opera House or being mesmerized by circus performers who didn’t fail to impress!
Our daughter had a seasonal job at The Grounds of Alexandria, performing as Mrs. Claus, so our family and Jackson and his family all went to the Grounds on Christmas Eve while Charlotte worked her last shift as Mrs. Claus. We had an amazing brunch and a great time exploring the Grounds. Charlotte entertained the crowds singing Christmas songs with Santa — it was so fun to see her get everyone in the Christmas spirit, including us.
Less than a block from the Grounds, Sheas Creek trickles into the Alexandra Canal. Sadly, plans to transform the industrial canal into a “stunning green corridor connecting Sydney Harbour to Botany Bay” were shelved in 2003, when it was concluded that the canal is so polluted that disturbing it would be dangerous to human health and the environment.
In the evening we attended a beautiful Christmas Eve service at Hillsong Church.
Christmas morning was spent opening presents, first with just our family, then at Jackson’s house with his family. After a Christmas brunch we all went to Pearl Beach, north of Sydney, to experience a traditional Australian Christmas dinner: a picnic on the beach!
I’m not going to lie; we missed the coziness and traditions of Christmas in Canada. But we couldn’t have asked for a better “hot” Christmas and were grateful for our authentic Australian Christmas experience.
3. Hunter Valley
On Boxing Day Karen and I escaped to the Hunter Valley, Australia’s original wine region, for two nights of wine and romance.
4. Our daughter’s engagement!
On December 29 our family and Jackson’s drove to beautiful Balmoral Beach to have dinner at the Public Dining Room. Little did our daughter know that dinner would be preceded by a proposal!
Spending time with Jackson and his family was definitely the overall highlight of our trip, and we are thrilled to welcome him into our family!
5. Avoca Beach
We spent our last week in Australia with Jackson’s family in Avoca Beach, a laid back beach town north of Sydney, on the Central Coast.
We now look forward to hosting Jackson’s family in Canada for the upcoming wedding in May, and we can’t wait for our next visit to Oz.