In September, 2007, Ruth and I were again on a plane to Sydney, Australia. This, our 6th trip Down Under, looked like a winner. We were going to take the Indian Pacific train 2,698 miles across the Nullarbor Plain to Perth and join a wildflower tour of Western Australia.
But first we had to survive 14 hours in coach where the woman behind me, to put it nicely, really filled her seat. To make sure that I was as uncomfortable as she was, she periodically kicked my seat. The highlight of the trip was an Australian film called Ten Canoes about primitive Aboriginal life. The lowlight was the leg bruise that Ruth sustained when she had difficulty climbing out to the aisle.
On our way from the airport into Sydney, Ruth complained about leg pain. Despite it, we had an almost perfect couple of days in one of our favorite cities with several A+ experiences.
We took the ferry to Darling Harbor and spent hours in the then one-year-old Wildlife World, an attempt to bring Australia’s unique animals, birds, reptiles, and insects into an urban setting where especially children could see them. In September, 2011, it was renamed Wild Life Sydney, and the place has its critics. “It has over 6,000 animals crammed into it with 130 all Australian species,” one carps.
I thought it was great. We watched a white bellied sea eagle demo done by an Aboriginal man named Leon who told stories about laughing kookaburras and Dreamtime, got a bunch of boys up to attempt a native dance, and played a didgeridoo. After that, I found myself staring at a koala close enough to touch if there hadn’t been a wire barrier. I learned, among other things, that a baby koala’s first meal is its mom’s droppings so it can get used to the bacteria needed to digest eucalyptus leaves. Bon apetit. I watched a cassowary for way too long because the sign said it was the world’s most dangerous animal. It can lash out with its powerful legs and kill. Its droppings seed 150 tree species. Uncomfortably close, I studied a funnel-web spider, the planet’s most deadly.
We went to the National Opal Collection, said to be Australia’s leading supplier of opals. In addition to a retail showroom, it offered a museum worthy collection of opal-related artifacts on loan for the Australian Museum including Eric the opalized pliosaur.
The day before we were to leave on the cross-continent train, Ruth’s leg hurt so badly that we stepped into a pharmacy where the lady in charge scared us to death. She looked at Ruth’s leg and warned of possible Deep Vein Thrombosis. We went straight to the nearest hospital where for only $100 Australian dollars and the loss of a few hours we learned that she had only a bruise.
The next morning after doing laundry we headed to Central Station to meet Robert and Lynette for yet another grand Australian adventure.