Thursday, June 12, 2008

What I Did On My Australian Vacation: Day Ten

I'm getting towards the end here, really!

Day Ten:

The casino across from our hotel had an attraction called the "Wildlife Dome," which we got a free ticket for when we arrived in Cairns, so we decided to go and check it out before leaving the city. I wasn't expecting a whole heck of a lot, to be honest, but what we saw of it was surprisingly nice, although the only wildlife we actually manged to see there were birds. We walked into the bird enclosure, discovered we'd arrived just in time for the bird show and stopped to watch, but that ate up most of the limited time we had that morning. I think it was worth it, though. It featured a talk from one of the birds' keepers, showcased lots of native Australian birds, and was generally pretty interesting. It also featured some unintentional moments of comedy, such as when she tried to get the kookaburra -- the only bird that came out in a carrier instead of flying freely around the enclosure and coming when called -- to go back into its box. Apparently it needed to be enticed into doing this with a trail of food scraps leading back to the carrier, but some other bird kept swooping in and stealing them, upon which the kookaburra would promptly fly right back to its slightly flummoxed handler.

And I got to have a fun personal encounter with a lorikeet (a smallish, colorful parrot). These birds eat nectar and are attracted to brightly colored flowers, so two volunteers from the audience, yours truly included, got to hold up some large fake flowers which the keeper would dab with drops of nectar or sugar water, and the bird would fly back and forth between them, sucking up the food. It was very nifty to watch. But at one point it arrived back at my flower before she did, looked displeased at finding no more food, and settled itself on top of my head to wait for some to arrive. I don't know why having a bird on top of your head should be that much fun, but somehow it is.

My mother managed to miss getting a picture of me with the bird on my noggin, but here I am giving it its lunch. You can probably tell I'm enjoying myself.

Anyway, after our bird encounter, we said goodbye to Cairns and left on a plane bound for Syndey.

Our hotel in Sydney was in many ways the least appealing of all the ones we stayed at. The rooms were cramped and the plumbing was loud enough that your next-door neighbor's shower could serve as an effective wake-up call, whether you wanted it to or not. But the location was pretty hard to beat. We were right across from Darling Harbor (excuse me: Darling Harbour), and I could look out my window and see the back of the famous Sydney Aquarium.

Sydney is also where our luck with weather finally ran out. Every other place we'd been so far, the weather had been unutterably gorgeous, about as perfect as weather ever gets. But it rained off and on the entire time we were in Sydney. Not that I begrudge it; they really needed the rain, apparently. And we weren't about to let it stop us!

Although we didn't really do very much on that first night in Sydney, mostly just strolled around the Darling Harbo(u)r area a bit in the rain.

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