Things That Fly In Sydney – Birds, Bats, & Qantas Airlines

If asked what I found most interesting during our three days in Sydney you might find it a bit different to hear that I was completely intrigued by the airborne creatures and not the traditional sights more familiar to most.

While I found images like the famous bridge and Sydney Opera House good for a photo opportunity or two, it was the birds and bats of Sydney that captivated me.

We flew into Sydney on a Qantas flight with seats near the wing so the engine was in my line of sight for much of the flight. I noted to John that our plane had Roll Royce engines which was unlike any airplane that I had flown on in the past.

Rolls Royce Engine On Our Qantas Flight

I was a bit alarmed to see that the day after we arrived another Qantas flight out of London headed to Sydney had a problem with its Rolls Royce engine where pieces of it fell off. I hate flying anyway so I did a bit of obsessing about our flight in December when we fly on Qantas from New Zealand to America before deciding to leave it to the Qantas folks to sort it out. Everything about our Qantas experience personally has been good so I am going to go with the assumption that our flight home for the holiday’s will be as well.

Going back to my topic of birds and bats, this little bird kept trying to steal my banana bread when we first arrived. We had stopped for a coffee and a bite to eat in the  Botanic Garden on our walk to our hotel room and I was amazed by the bird sounds and sights all around us.

Sitting with our backpacks while John went inside for our coffee, I saw something that looked unusual from my chair in the shade and I could barely wait for him to come back so I could move in for a closer look.

Fox-faced bats were everywhere and I sought out a volunteer the next day who gave me an education regarding these bats and the problems they are causing for the park with tree destruction as well as the safe way they intend to relocate many of them to another location. They are protected and as I learned, play an important role in plant pollination.

Rainbow Lorikeet

The Rainbow Lorikeets I saw were using their brush-tipped tongues to get to the nectar in the pink flowers above. According to the people who work in the Botanic Gardens in Sydney, the nectar ferments in the heat and makes the already noisy and gregarious birds even more vocal as it makes them a bit drunk.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo

This was just one of the Sulphur-crested Cockatoos that we saw all over Sydney. I was surprised at first, but quickly became used to seeing these large noisy birds that can live up to 100 years.

I will be back with more fun things to share about Sydney a bit later as it’s time to explore Auckland, New Zealand where we woke up to blue skies and a view of the water this morning.

Seeing Sydney By Dawn’s Early Light

Sydney Harbor By Dawn's Early Light

Arriving in Sydney Australia early yesterday morning just as many of you were waking or going to sleep yourself, we flew into a gorgeous sunrise and the beginnings of a journey I never imagined I would take.

While I have long had a list of 50 Things To Do Before I Die, trips Australia and New Zealand were not included. Travel is there of course, but closer to home and more familiar than the other side of the world to where I was living in Athens Georgia when I began building my list.

Looking back I have to wonder if some of the things on it were limited more by the idea of practical obtainability than the scope of my imagination.

Don’t get me wrong … there are some pretty far-fetched ideas written on that wrinkled piece of yellow legal stationary such as my desire to write a speech for a US president or play the cello like some of the musicians I had seen on stage.

Many dreams I imagined important in my 20s no longer matter and there are new ones taking shape in ways I could not have foreseen when I created my list in the late 80s while finishing my undergrad years and preparing for the birth of my daughter.

Turning 50 a few months ago, I realized that I needed to close the door on certain dreams. It seems very silly now to mourn for a lost life as a dancer when I never even had ballet lessons as a child. Truth told, I have such trouble picking up steps that I was always a disaster in any musical audition that required dance and early lessons probably would not have changed that.

Speech writing for the president is another dream that’s not likely to happen as people develop whole careers as speech writers, a path I do not wish to follow. And while cello lessons and practice would improve my skill with the instrument, I wish for smaller things with it now such as solo pieces I can play with ease for myself.

It did occur to me while I was sitting and thinking during our 22 hour flight to Sydney that a writer has the best career because they get to be anyone and do anything in the stories they create.

After seeing treetops filled yesterday with loads of large bats in a park near our hotel, I wondered if the Wright brothers had studied the bat and its wings when considering how to cover the wings of airplanes while dreaming of the possibility of flight.

Which led me back to who I really am as I began crafting a story outline involving Orville and Wilbur Wright. I may not have a pilot’s seat on the flight deck listed on my list of 50, but I can fly all of the planes in the stories I write and the possibilities are really much larger than that old list ever was as long I stay open when the opportunity presents.

This two month trip with John is one of those opportunities and I am wide open to possibility.

New Zealand Travel Research – Traditional & More

New Zealand Travel Guides

For all of you who included New Zealand as a destination in our upcoming extended holiday … you were right!

Even though we have Round the World tickets, most of our time will be spent touring New Zealand. While I usually book flights myself, this was one instance where I saw the benefit in working with an agency to book the many flights we will be on while we are away for eight weeks.

John has handled all the arrangements, bless him for that … for most of my travel life, I have been the one to take charge of the big and small details and it is so different to relax and let someone else do it. Having been to New Zealand in 1996 for six weeks, John knows exactly what he is doing and how to get the best experience for the money.

I would never have known that buying Round the World tickets were the way to go since I associated the RTW expression with the mega wealthy who might go for six months at a time and stop in more countries than the four that our toes will touch down in while we are away. Remember when I said we would be in four countries, well … one was to throw you off a bit as we will only be refueling there during the 22 hour first leg of our journey.

We can hardly count Thailand as it will only be a quick stop, but we will spend a few days in Sydney, Australia before moving on to New Zealand. If you live in Sydney and want to meet for a cup of coffee or a bite of lunch let me know. We are staying near the Botanic Gardens while we are there, but plan to squeeze in a bit of sightseeing after we recover from our long flight. If you have any suggestions for places around Sydney that we should put on our ” Must See list ” please leave them in a comment below.

Some of you guessed correctly that America would be on our list as well. After about seven weeks in New Zealand, we will fly to Atlanta to spend Christmas week with my family. I am really looking forward to showing John what Christmas with my family is all about and it feels like the perfect way to end our trip.

Getting back to travel research, we have gone through guide books both old (from John’s 1996 trip) and new, The Rough Guide To New Zealand, but none of these have photographs that do proper justice to the beauty of the country we are going to see.

The slightly unorthodox ” travel guide ” below has done more to get me excited about what we will experience than all the words in the books above.

Billy Connolly’s World Tour Of New Zealand

Billy Connolly is a comedian who I find screamingly funny at times, but has such a potty mouth that some of you may find him offensive. I know a lot of comedians can get pretty tacky on stage and he tends to put me off a bit with his bad language and constant references to sex, but when he talks about New Zealand (off stage) and shows us places he visits during his ” Too Old To Die Young ” comedy tour he shows us his softer side which is my favorite. (Off topic: I also think he is a fine actor and I loved him in the role of John Brown in the movie, Mrs. Brown with Dame Judi Dench)

John ordered the New Zealand World Tour DVD set above and we have been watching it for the last few days. It is broken into series of eight shows that mix New Zealand travel with segments of his shows performed in towns on both North and South Island. The country looks as magnificent as I have heard and I cannot wait to get there.

I will as you might expect be blogging from the road so don’t be a stranger as I won’t be completely away.

If you are a reader who lives in New Zealand and would like to meet for coffee, just give me a shout through email (found on my “About Me” page at the top) and I will get in touch. Suggestions from readers about what not to miss are always welcome so feel free to share your thoughts in a comment below.

We still have a few days before we go, but the house is such a wreck in places that I feel a little overwhelmed. I don’t know if I feel more obliged to leave it spotless as our housesitters will be family or if strangers would make me feel the same need.

What about you … would you worry more about order and neatness with family or with folks you did not know well?