Subject: Re: Christmas / Holidays Away from Home
Hi Lesley I endorse all the comments that have gone before about Christmas in Australia except perhaps the one about the effect our multicultural society might have on the festivities. Families that we know who are not Christian (Muslim and Chinese) celebrate Christmas (the secular side including presents and feasting) with enthusiasm.

Although there is plenty of secular feasting and celebration, there are also well attended church service on Christmas eve, midnight on Christmas eve and on Christmas morning. Last year I confesss I did not have the heart to drag the children off the beach to go to church - it was too nice a day!

We don't tend to have beach barbecues so much as picnics. The sorts of issues you might run into with a barbecue are that in general you have to light a fire in a designated fire place and if you can find one you may well be competing with many other families. Barbecues may be banned on that particular day as part of a total fire ban. These days many families have a cold meal in the middle of the day and we have had a couple of lovely Christmas picnics with cold roast turkey, seafood, ...

A couple of years ago we had some Americans join us for Christmas and they found our plum pudding which we flamed with brandy was unusual. I guess that is a tradition we have from our English background butI was surprised to learn that it was not well known in the US.

There are quite a few hotels and restaurants which put on Christmas dinner (it will be in the middle of the day) and I am sure they are very nice although all meals out on Christmas day will come at a hefty premium. I would look out for one with seafood as perhaps that would be a quite Australian thing and should be very nice.

One lunch I found on the web was a harbour cruise and includes seafood and turkey for $130 Aus pp

This web site covers some restaurants offerings: essentially you are paying a 100% premium for Christmas day lunch would be my assessment of the prices they are charging.

If you wanted to self-cater for a picnic on Christmas day, if it were me I would got to David Jones food Hall in the Sydney city on Christmas eve. I would then have a picnic at a spot around the harbour or in the botanic gardens. Bondi beach is famous for backpackers having Christmas there. To me that would make it a place to avoid - I suspect it is a lot of sunburned people getting drunk ... :-( However, other tastes might vary.

On Boxing Day (which is also a public holiday), the annual sailing race between Sydney and Hobart sets off. If I were in Sydney I would regard it as a must see. The start is at 1pm. It is very popular. You may wish to hold over your picnic till that day. You would almost certainly get lovely glimpses of the race from Taronga Park zoo and you might want to combine the two as a harbourside experience for that day.

Boxing day won't be so bad but you do need to be warned that lots of places close on Christmas day which don't close on any other day of the year but Good Friday. This includes for example art galleries. Christmas as a traveller could be a bit disconcerting if you have't realised that in advance.

All the best, Anne Canberra, Australia