On Friday we went on a whale-watching cruise from Hervey Bay. While waiting for the bus to the boat we were eaten alive by mosquitoes (mozzie mozzie mozzie, oy oy oy), but saw sulfur-crested cockatoos, parrots, and ibises. It was a long cold windy ride out to Platypus Bay, but then the whales did appear and quite impressive they were too. We had three separate whale encounters, the last with a group of 3 “teenagers” who spy-hopped and went under the boat; the sound of the passengers as one whale came up about 30 feet from the boat was an excited scream almost like the one in Poseidon Adventure as the ship turned over. Unfortunately during one hard roll Kate slid out of her seat and a Japanese tourist fell on her, hurting her neck. She’s improved but still quite stiff.
Then we got on a plane and flew to Sydney. Apart from lunch the only things we had to eat that day were snacks provided by various transportation companies. There was no security to speak of at tiny Hervey Bay Airport; we were on the only flight of the evening, as near as I could tell. It was the quietest I’ve ever heard an airport, the squeak of luggage wheels the loudest sound.
In Sydney we toured Susannah Place, recommended by Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman (unreconstructed terrace houses that were still pretty much the same in the 1970s as the 1840s, an interesting slice of living history); ate a pizza that was half kangaroo, half tandoori chicken, all tasty; climbed up the Harbor Bridge pylon for a museum of the bridge’s construction and great views; passed at least 7 wedding parties doing photos in the picturesque streets of The Rocks; were flabbergasted by a gullible talking statue of Queen Victoria’s dog, which appealed to us on behalf of deaf and blind children to toss a coin into its fountain, then said “thank you” although we had not done so; and went to the zoo.
Sydney’s zoo reminded me a lot of Disney World, and I mean that in a good way. Favorite animals included the bilby, feathertail glider, Kodiak bear, wallaby, quokka, turkeys, cassowary, peacock (seen from the back), golden pheasant, meerkats, free-range emu (which by the way is pronounced e-mew not e-moo), and of course the echidna and platypus. I love the way the echidnas move, bumbling along so industriously. The koalas were surprisingly active, the wombats unsurprisingly asleep. From there we took the aerial tram to the ferry, took the ferry back to Circular Quay, took the monorail for sightseeing loop, then a bus to Chinatown for dinner. If we’d taken the train back to our hotel from there it would have been a full house, or something.
One more full day in Sydney. Tomorrow we return to Melbourne for a single night before flying home. We’re kind of crispy around the edges but the trip has been a blast.