Deciding to Live Down Under : Part Five : Winter in Australia

It seemed really strange that winter over here is June, July and August! We planned to go to the Lismore Lantern Parade, which  is an annual community arts festival held on or around the longest night of the year – the Winter Solstice. This year, the Lismore Lantern Parade was held on Saturday 23 June 2012 and the theme was ‘Harvest’.

Each year, the Lantern Parade attracts in excess of 25,000 people. The festival celebrates community, art and nature with arts, crafts, workshops, regional cuisine, markets, a spectacular parade, lanterns, bands, street theatre, music, carnival dancers, illuminated puppets, fire art and pyrotechnics and much, much more…

The festival takes place in the heart of the Lismore CBD with lantern making workshops held in the months and weeks before the festival begins. Local businesses actively participate in the festival and decorate their windows to complement the theme for each year.

School holidays were in July and we did a bit of exploring around the local area. We went to Protestors Falls – they were amazing- you enter through the Rainforest and end up at a glorious sparkling waterfall. It was where protestors chained themselves to the trees years ago so they couldn’t be cut down and you could see why. Then we went to Nimbin. Nimbin is a hippy town and one of the few places where you can indulge in drugs…. We were offered drugs 4 times whilst we were there in the street.

A few days later we headed off to Australia Zoo. Steve Irwin’s wife Terri and kids – Bindi and Robert fed the crocs and were in the show. Then, as we had put in before we even came to Australia for our permanent residency visas, we left to go to New Zealand for a couple of days, whilst they granted the visas.

Jack and I went through and jumped on the plane to Christchurch. We arrived at 11.20pm and there was a 4.6 earthquake at 11.30pm but we didn’t feel the earth move one bit. Guess the airport was too far out. We got to our motel – The Towers in the Park in Riccarton and chilled. Jack was most impressed with the free sky movies and Internet. I went out and explored Christchurch. It was good to see that the spirit of the people was really good and even though a lot of the city was still very damaged people were determined to get the city back to being as beautiful as it once was.

I also found where in 2006 we had gone punting on The River Avon which was beautiful and then went for a walk through the Botanic Gardens. We had a few beautiful winter days. On the last day, we visited the Antarctic Centre and saw the fairy penguins. Gorgeous. There were snow storms and 4D shows and it was really interesting. We went on the Hagglund vehicles and went up and down hills set up as if they were in the Antarctic. We then went to the airport and waited through the night for an early flight- we were amazed at the number of people who actually slept at the airport whilst waiting for flights – they were there armed with their sleeping bags and pillows!!!

Our visas were granted for Australia so we re-entered the country as Australian residents which was great!

Read more from Liz Bethell on her personal Blog.

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