At this time of year, the northern hemisphere is plunging into cold and darkness, and many people there are planning their holiday at the opposite end of the earth, where the weather is hotting up and heading for a Christmas midsummer.
Sydney is the destination for thousands of visitors, many arriving on cruise ships either docking at Central Quay, some might say the beating heart of Sydney, or anchoring out in the harbour and sending passengers in by tender.
Special things about Sydney at Christmas Season
Christmas trees in 35° of heat may seem odd, yet Australia is very fond of the traditional pine type Christmas tree. Seeing these public trees complete with traditional decorations such as stars, in bright sunshine, is an intriguing aspect of a visit to Sydney. The photo is of the Christmas tree near the Anzac Fountain in King's Cross.
Near the fountain are banners with the more traditional Sydney symbol of a cockatoo which seems to do duty in place of Santa or his elves on Australian Christmas banners such as the one in the photograph.
The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia is at Rushcutters Bay, just a short walk from Kings Cross and Bondi Junction. Santa comes to visit on Christmas Day, just as all the crews are finally assembled and ready for off. (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)
Boxing Day: the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race starts in Sydney Harbour. The public have remarkable access to the jetties where the 90 to 100 contenders are tied up and preparing for the big start on Boxing Day.
All photos copyright of Val Williamson except Santa's visit, which is by permission of Rolex/Daniel Forster