Monday Mar 9, 8:30 am – At Home
(The phone rang- it’s Rich) “Hello Ken. How about if I go with you?”
“Pardon”. He had just arrived home last night after a month away. Can he’ know what he is saying?
“We’ll rent a 4×4, like in Southern Africa, drive to the parks and camp. No bikes”
“You know I leave tonight. Does Mavis know?” She must be just as jet-lagged as is. “What would a ticket cost at this late date?”
“Well if you are up for it I will see what I can do”.
“Am I up for it? Certainly. Some of my ladies are a bit worried about me biking around Australia with Vertigo. Even if you came a few days later we could work it out”
A few hours later he called and confirmed that he had tickets on the same flights as me – not paying much more than I did a couple of months ago. Owen took us to the airport for the 9:15 pm flight to Vancouver. We left Calgary an hour late, circled above fog-bound Vancouver for an hour and then returned home, stumbling into bed at 3:00 am.
What with suffering a bout of what the doctor called BPPV the day before I was to leave, the attendant apprehension about leaving for two months with something I knew nothing about, Rich opting in, which changed the trip from cycle to car-camping, and now air connection problems, this trip had begun to take on inauspicious signs. On top of that, each of my last two spring trips were compromised or cancelled due to other health issues. Am I getting old? – Yep. Is this a sign of some sort? Well I have never believed in this sort of thing before, but…
We did make it out Wednesday, connecting right through to Sydney without issue. Now in Sydney, we will have to put together the trip we will make. Usually a lot of arrangements would have been made before leaving home. Rich will spend a couple of nights with an old friend, I walked about quite a bit, bought a new cell phone and tried to find some car rental places.
Mar 14 – Sydney
My first bird photo was of a Sacred Ibis. Cockatoos, Rainbow Lorikeets were among those that followed as I ambled from Hyde Park to the Domain to the Botanical Gardens, always in search of birds but also with some good scenics as the high-rises rose above the tree filled parks. I reached Sydney Harbour, with the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge as backdrops. This is a spectacular city. I continued my birding walk around the Opera House to Circular Quay, where I caught the noon ferry to Mosman Bay with more Opera House photo ops. I wonder how many photos each tourist takes of this iconic structure?
I was met at the Mosman Bay dock by Rich, Bob Riches and Dan Crickmay. Bob and Dan were two of the group who came here with Rich over fifty years ago. These two ended up staying, creating their families and building careers here. We walked from the ferry to Bob’s condo that tumbles down though the rain forest, almost to water’s edge. We sat with Annette and Althea, Bob and Dan’s wives and had drinks and food with the lorikeets, kookaburras and other feathered friends flittering about.
There was lots of reminiscing to do, but we also got some good tips about our trip. Most importantly now we need to find a vehicle and Bob had helped Rich run down some good online sources, which we will hope to be fruitful tomorrow even though it will be Sunday.
Dan and Althea left for home, and Bob and Annette took us on a walk along the bay until we rounded a point where we sat and had a beer and watched the sun settle behind the city. They have a hard life here in Sydney. Not a bad first day in Aussie.
Mar 17 – Sydney
Sunday was a no business day, as the travel van places were not open, but Rich did move into the hostel and we saw a St. Pats day parade and walked the parks again. Monday had us at the travel van places where we struck what looks like a great deal. We will fly to Cairns on Wednesday morning, pick up a fully camperized high-boy van and spend 48 days returning it to Sydney. The incentives included free flights to Cairns, two up-grades on the van and six free days. We are paying $45/day including insurance for our 48 days.
We spent the rest of the day at the Australian Museum, basically a natural history museum specializing in geology, fauna and Aboriginal matters, all of which were extremely well done. The ten little robins, compared to our one; models of the ten most poisonous snakes in the world; the mock-ups of the biggest gold nuggets found here, the biggest in the world; the specifics of aboriginal treatment, not dissimilar to what Canadians have done are some of the areas that attracted me.
It is Tuesday and we will basically do a bit more touristing and get read to fly to Cairns to begin our proper trip.