Christmas Day this year marks the end of my eighth year in Australia. I arrived on this continent on 25 December 2003, having flown straight through and missed Christmas Eve, due to the time variation between here and home. I spent that first hot summer’s day with my future husband, Robin. We took a walk in Westerfolds Park, and enjoyed a swim in the Yarra River, under the protection of tangy-smelling eucalpyts, and squadrons of screaming sulphur-crested cockatoos. Christmas lunch with Robin’s family included abundant fresh seafood – shellfish, salmon, and king prawns – a variety of salads, beautiful Australian wines, a selection of traditional cakes (plus a delightful Pavlova), dessert tarts, and hand-made chocolates. This was an all together different realm from my usual Northern Hemisphere holiday experience. Everyone was in short sleeves and there wasn’t a turkey in sight!
Our Living Christmas Tree

Our Living Christmas Tree

An Australian home decorated for the holiday season

An Australian home decorated for the holiday season (Photo source: Australian Geographic)

Of course, by now I am used to it. I have learnt to embrace the summer holiday season fully and joyfully, without the heavy overcoat and wool stockings. I no longer sniff the air for snow on Christmas Eve, and I have ditched the brandy eggnog for a nice glass of Chardonnay or a cold Ginger Beer. Still, I admit that I prefer traditional Christmas songs to Six White Boomers , or to Aussie Jingle Bells, funny as they are the first time you hear them. ( If you don’t know these songs, you can hear them via these links: Six White Boomers, a Rolf Harris Tribute / Aussie Jingle Bells by Bucko and Champs )

Australia lit up!

Australia lit up! (photo source: Christmas and Design)

Here are some of our favourite ways to celebrate Christmas in Australia.

(Note: click on photos to enlarge)

Take a Road Trip

We pack up our Kombi and head for the bush. Mt. Eccles Natl. Park (Victoria, Australia).

We pack up our Kombi and head for the bush. Mt. Eccles Natl. Park (Victoria, Australia).

 

Near the Blue Lake, Mt. Gambier (South Australia, Australia)

Near the Blue Lake, Mt. Gambier (South Australia)

 

Find a Secluded Spot for a Swim

Crater Lake, Mt. Eccles (Victoria, Australia)

Crater Lake, Mt. Eccles (Victoria, Australia)

 

Lake Mombeong (Victoria, Australia)

Lake Mombeong (Victoria, Australia)

 

The Yarra River, near Warburton

The Yarra River, near Warburton (photo source: Warburton Lodge)

 

Keep a Look-out for Indigenous Wildlife

Koala at Mt. Eccles Natl. Park (Victoria, Australia)

Koala at Mt. Eccles Natl. Park (Victoria, Australia)

 

Wallaby with Joey in Pouch at Mt. Eccles Natl. Park (Victoria, Australia)

Wallaby with Joey in Pouch at Mt. Eccles Natl. Park (Victoria, Australia)

 

Eastern Grey 'Roo, Mt. Eccles (Victoria, Australia)

Eastern Grey ‘Roo, Mt. Eccles (Victoria, Australia)

 

Echidna seeking ants at a roadside tree, between Nelson, Victoria & Mt. Gambier, South Australia (Australia)

Echidna seeking ants at a roadside tree (between Nelson, Victoria & Mt. Gambier, South Australia)

 

Golden Staghorn Beetle at Mt. Eccles Natl. Park (Victoria, Australia)

Golden Staghorn Beetle at Mt. Eccles Natl. Park (Victoria, Australia)

 

Superb Fairywren, at Old Man Lake, Little Dip Conservation Reserve (South Australia, Australia)

Superb Fairywren, at Old Man Lake, Little Dip Conservation Reserve (South Australia)

 

Pack a Picnic and Head for the Beach

The Christmas Spirit, Aussie Style.

The Christmas Spirit, Aussie Style. (Photo Source: Celebrating Christmas)

 

The Southern Ocean, near Lake Mombeong (Victoria, Australia)

The Southern Ocean, near Lake Mombeong (Victoria, Australia)

 

Weedy Sea Dragon tile mural, with shower on reverse side, at Beachport (South Australia, Australia)

Weedy Sea Dragon tile mural, with shower on reverse side, at Beachport (South Australia)

Lots of beautiful fresh fruits and veg are in season now. Our favourites are mangoes this time of year.

Lots of beautiful fresh fruits and veg are in season now. Our favourites are mangoes this time of year. (Photo source: Travel Blissful)

Beach grasses in the evening light at Robe (South Australia, Australia)

Beach grasses in the evening light at Robe (South Australia)

 

Enjoy Catching Up with Friends and Family

Kevin Warradigawuy and Enid Gurungulmiwuy, Gapuwiyak, NT. Still from Christmas Birrimbirr © Miyarrka Media 2011.

Kevin Warradigawuy and Enid Gurungulmiwuy, Gapuwiyak, NT. Still from Christmas Birrimbirr © Miyarrka Media 2011. (Photo Source: Australian Government (Closing the Gap) Yolngu Christmas Spirit)

 

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, photo by Jeff J. Mitchell.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, photo by Jeff J. Mitchell. (Photo Source: News.com.au)

 

Barry Humphries as Dame Edna, from The Dame Edna Christmas Experience.

Barry Humphries as Dame Edna, from The Dame Edna Christmas Experience. (Photo Source: Name that Christmas Special)

 

Half-Dressed Brits in Hats Make a Pyramid on the Beach.

Half-Dressed Brits in Hats Make a Pyramid on the Beach. (Photo Source: News.com.au)

Robin and Tina Whittle, disembarked from The Cockle Train at Goolwa on the Fleurieu Peninsula (South Australia, Australia)

Robin and Tina Whittle, disembarked from The Cockle Train at Goolwa on the Fleurieu Peninsula (South Australia)

No better friend than a dog who loves you.

No better friend than a dog who loves you. (Photo Source: Everyday Hero, Guide Dog Christmas Appeal, Western Australia)

 

Whatever You Do, We Wish You and Your Loved Ones a Wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Christmas Mirror Ball

Christmas Mirror Ball (Photo Source: flickr – paparutzi’s photostream)

 

Except where cited, all of the photos in this post were taken by Robin & Tina Whittle, December 2011.