Getting through customs and to the hotel was also uneventful, but took a long time, and by the time we got into our room, the headache I’d been fighting for two days had come back. I was exhausted, and since it was only 9 in the morning by the time we’d gotten settled in our hotel room, I decided that I wanted to try and get at least a couple of hours of sleep. I took a shower, then popped in some earplugs (so Eclipse could play without waking me up), and managed to sleep for nearly two hours. Oh, and did I mention that it was MONDAY here (we pretty much skipped Sunday entirely, because of crossing the International Date Line). When I woke up, it was almost noon, and we headed out into the city for the first time.
Our hotel was one block south of Hyde Park, so that was the first place we visited (and would be the place we visited every day, on our way to and from everything else). We walked through part of the park, which is smaller than the park in London which I assume is its namesake, but still lovely. I was thrilled to see more Australian birds, all of which were new to me. My very first birds of the trip were Silver Gulls at the airport, and Rock Doves, of course.
The first birds we saw that gave me that “We’re not in Kansas anymore,” feeling were the Australian White Ibises. Also called Sacred Ibis, these birds are so exotic looking, and I was surprised to spot one calmly foraging in the park just a few feet away from where we were walking.
Later, we saw them all over the city acting like Rock Doves – eating out of trash cans and climbing on cafe tables and begging for food from people sitting on park benches. It always strikes me as odd to see such gorgeous birds acting like this, but I seem to recall seeing White Ibises in Florida doing the same thing at McDonald’s.
As we walked through the park, it began to rain lightly, which continued throughout the day, although it was rarely heavy enough to be bothersome. Since it was our first day in town, and we were getting a late start, we decided to start out by taking one of the Sydney Explorer bus tours, which would take us around to the big landmarks, and then we could decide what we wanted to go back and see more closely later on. After we’d ridden about half of the route, we decided to hop off the bus at Darling Harbour, to have some lunch. We got off on the west side of the harbour, and walked over the bridge, then ate at an Italian restaurant, and then hopped back on the bus, because Eclipse was anxious to get to the Sydney Opera House. He’d been obsessed with it during most of the flight, and asked over and over when we would be able to see it. We got our first sight of the building from the bus tour (especially as we drove over the Harbour Bridge).
At last! We arrived at the famous and very beautiful Sydney Opera House! When we got off the bus, Connor was thrilled. Only trouble – it had really started to rain. Even so, we climbed all the steps, and hid under overhanging parts of the roof with the few other intrepid souls who were up there with us.
Because of the rain, we didn’t stay much longer. Instead, we went back to the bus stop and hopped on the next bus that arrived, and finished the tour route. We got off at the same place we’d gotten on, and walked back to the hotel through the park.
Walking through the park, we saw a few more new birds – including one of the birds I’d really hoped to see on this trip – a Laughing Kookaburra. YES!
Really gorgeous, and they make some wonderful sounds, too.
Interesting statue in Hyde Park, sculputed by Gerard Havekes:
“The labours and beauty of pioneering mankind are depicted by three figures, Water, Fire and Earth, and a flanking font. Water: A fisherman looking to the sea and new horizons. Fire: A woman depicting womanhood and intuition, protecting the fire of initiative and progress. Earth: A farmer depicting the pioneering efforts upon which this country has developed”
On this trip back through the park, we also saw the two birds which completely gobsmacked me when we spotted them foraging on the grass – a pair of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos. OMG COCKATOOS! OMG SO COOL!!!!! I had a total geek-out over these birds. I mean, they’re EXOTIC! They’re, well, they’re supposed to be living in the jungle or something, but here they were in the middle of a city park. I’d half convinced myself that they couldn’t possibly be wild (must have been escaped pets), but no – my birding book says that there are large flocks established even in the big cities. OMG I HAVE COCKATOOS ON MY LIFE LIST NOW!
They were really cool to watch, too – not long after we spotted them, they flew up into a nearby tree, squawking loudly, trying to chase away a couple of Australian Ravens. (A few Noisy Miners were also after the ravens). SO COOL!
Anyway, after looking at birds for a while, we were all really tired (JET LAG!), and it seemed like we’d had a long, full day . . . but when we got back to the hotel we discovered it was really only 5.00, and we’d only been wandering the city for five hours! We’d sort of planned to freshen up and then go out to dinner somewhere, but instead, we all just went to sleep around 6.30.