We travel because distance and difference are the secret tonic of creativity.  When we get home, home is still the same, but something inside our minds has changed – and that changes everything.

John Lehrer

Five weeks, Five gorgeous destinations that included Pereybere in Mauritius, and in Oz – Brisbane, Yamba on the Clarence River in NSW and Sydney  –  and ten flights later….  and apart from tripping over a trolley parking bay in Woolies in Brisbane and bruising my shin on New Years Day – I arrived home to sunny Ballito unscathed, happy, slightly jet lagged and somehow, lighter and ready to get stuck into the year ahead.  That’s what travel does for you if you take it with a pinch of salt.  It somehow lightens the load. Being surrounded by loving, light hearted (and sometimes headed) family and friends adds to the lightening effect. 

Flights were booked with Concierge Travel Specialist Ana Camacho who went the extra mile to make sure that everything ran smoothly.  She confirmed my bookings (Air Mauritius was my preferred carrier)  at every leg and booked me into the perfect hotel in Mauritius for my last stopover before I flew home.  I lightened up on my in- flight meals as well, ordering vegan – and drinking lots of water with the occasional glass of dry white to … add to the lightness in mood.

Stand out moments for me in Mauritius – catching up with my sister and her family and doing my open water scuba diving course with Ocean Spirit, situated just off the beach in Pereybere.  The most caring, fun, wonderful team took me through this exciting 4 day underwater adventure  – that included the spotting of some incredible sea creatures, including one of my favourites, the Hawksbill turtle, spotted in a fairly obvious spot resting peacfully on Turtle rock in Pereybere.  Roll on dives with family at Sodwana and Aliwal Shoal.

On to Oz and the most glorious four weeks spent with my sons, grandchildren and friends, and exploring exciting new spots that I had never heard of before, including  Yamba, a hidden gem –   situated in Northern NSW on the mighty Clarence River – a portion of which, amazingly, flows backwards.  We stayed at the Ranch, a beautiful, pristine spot just out of town, and had regular visits from a family of kangaroo, determined to add joy to the Christmas festivities.  Treasure hunts and rollicking on the beach with grandkids, shopping with my lovely daughter in law and golf with my sons added to the fun.

Then it was on to Sydney where we all stayed in the brilliantly run Novotel Hotel overlooking Darling Harbour.  We were in a suite on the 10th floor and had the most breathtaking view of the harbour and the city.  Catching up with the boys old SA school mates and their families and exploring Sydney on foot were stand out moments – and the restaurants!   The most delicious lightly baked salmon I have ever tasted, nestling on a bed of Thai salad. The prices were amazingly affordable, comparing well with SA.

Rounding off my Oz trip, I flew to Perth,   home of many ex Zimbos and South African’s, including old friends of mine from Zim days who I stayed with.  It is a wonderful, warm, friendly and pretty little city that nestles beside the Swan River and a mild tempered, light hearted Indian Ocean. Every day I was there,  I had the great privilege of watching the sun setting over the sea.   The light was unforgettable and quite spectacular, somehow creating an invisible link between Australia and Africa – two continents that have so much in common, but are so totally different.

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