There truly are no words that could adequately describe the adventure we had in our brief time in Australia. I think the best way to put it is... I can't wait to go back!
We arrived on a very rainy day so we went to the world famous Material Obsession Quilt shop. It was delightful to visit with the wonderful people there including the super talented Kathy Doughty and her husband John. I got a big hug from sweet Helena, whom I had met in Houston, as well as the infamous Wendy Williams who let me barge in on her class and visit with everyone there. I honestly can't think of a nicer combination of humans... Australians and quilters. They made us feel so at home and welcomed us with such kindness.
Clutching a few fabrics we went to dinner at the top of the Sydney Tower. The views were spectacular and the clouds even broke for a few minutes to let us enjoy a spectacular sunset. We walked back to our hotel with full tummies, big smiles and very sleepy eyes. We had no trouble falling asleep immediately as we had traveled 5 hours to LAX and then another 14.5 to SYD. Somewhere in there we also lost an entire day! But it was so worth it!
We booked an all day excursion in an attempt to see as much as possible while we were there and it turned out to be a fantastic experience. The van picked us up at the hotel and we drove out to the Blue Mountains to enjoy some short hikes and spectacular views. We also visited Scenic World and rode the cable car across the top of the valley to view the waterfall before riding the suspended tram to the valley floor. Our guide told us all the wonderful stories and history as well as some pretty funny anecdotes. He truly made our entire day completely entertaining!
After another hike to a waterfall, where we same some amazing wildlife, we had a delicious lunch at a pub. After warming up and drying out (though we were lucky that it was only misting a bit here and there) we drove to Featherdale Wildlife Park. We pet a koala, fed a kangaroo, and watched some dingo pups playing. The wombat may have been my favorite but the echnidas were super cute as well. We were able to interact or get very close to all of the animals and really enjoyed meeting them.
We then took a peaceful boat ride back down the river to Sydney, ending our day sailing under the iconic Sydney Harbor Bridge and past the Sydney Opera House. We enjoyed and amazing dinner outside with a view of both! It was a very long day but we were so happy and talked and laughed about our adventures on our walk back to our hotel.
We woke up super early every day and went to bed just after dinner because of the 14 hour time difference. Jet lag is no joke! But we were excited to see the sights and do a couple of walking tours through the historic district in Sydney known as 'The Rocks' and then we walked through the Botanical Gardens as well. They were so amazing and so much was in bloom in spite of it being winter there.
We then took an Uber to the coast. We walked the Coastal Cliff Walk from Tamarama Beach to Bondi Beach. The walkway along the top of the cliffs was spectacular. The weather was gorgeous and we could not believe how beautiful the cliffs, the ocean and the views were. It was so stunning. After walking the cliffs, we poked around the shops along Bondi Beach and just enjoyed the beach.
We then made our way back to Sydney to meet up with my friend, Diane, from Orange, NSW. We've been friends for over 20 years and have only met once in person a few years ago. We met as quilting pen pals and have stayed in touch over all these years. She is so delightful and I know we would be best friends if we lived closer. I was so thankful that she was able to travel to Sydney to see me and visit the quilt show together with me. Spending time with her was a highlight of my trip for sure!
Day 4 and 5
We spent the next two days exploring the Sydney Quilt Show. The shopping was amazing and I brought home quite a bit of Australian fabric, Aboriginal fabric, and some Liberty of London fabrics that are hard to find in the US.
But I didn't just shop, we enjoyed the quilts as well. We were lucky enough to spend an hour with the amazing quilter who made the 'Best in Show' quilt. She also happened to have a special exhibit of her quilts through the years. We enjoyed hearing her speak and learning the stories and techniques behind her amazing work. If you don't follow Catherine Butterworth, you should check her out! Her work is amazing!
We also found Rachaeldaisy (author of Whiz Bang!) and spent some lovely moments chatting with her. She's as fun as her quilts are and I always enjoy spending time with her!
We even bumped into Linda Collins (author of Quilts in the Barn) and enjoyed a chat. She's so fun to catch up with and I've run into her now on 3 different continents. No telling where I'll see her again! LOL
And then we began our long journey home. Our flight was delayed 6 hours because the inbound aircraft was delayed. Luckily, the same aircraft was used for our connecting flight to Atlanta, so we didn't miss it even though we had to clear customs and immigration which was total chaos. I must say, flying on a Boeing 777 is delightful if you are in the right cabin! We sat in a different cabin for each leg of the journey (slight mix up with reservations) and the closer one gets to the front, the better the experience by far! However, the flights home were only 14 hours and 4 hours, so it was easier than the first day of travel for sure! And because of the time changes, we landed in LAX before we left SYD. So we got the day back that we lost on the way over!
And now we try to adjust to the time zone we are in. I have 72 hours before I get on another flight to go to Salt Lake City for HandiQuilter Academy. I'm the luckiest person I know, and probably the most tired as well!