Friday, May 13, 2011

New Zealand/Australia: Part 9 of 12

Part 9: Featherdale
May 2nd. The flight to Sydney went smoothly and after the night I had, I'm sure that it surprises nobody that I ended up sleeping most of the way! I had planned to watch "Mamma Mia" on the inflight entertainment, but ended up sleeping pretty much from "Lay All Your Love On Me" to "SOS" ;-)

I arrived to Sydney shortly after 7am and steeled myself for the looooong wait at customs. Fortunately, that ended up not being nearly as bad as I'd feared though! Sure, there was a long queue to get my passport checked*, but once that was done, it didn't take long for my suitcase to turn up, and I discovered a queue for customs that everybody else had missed! The sheep mentality is strong, and people seemed to have completely missed that there were two entrances to customs and all queued up in one!

* You KNOW you've entered Australia when 'line' is pronounced 'loine' - as in "Oi've opened another loine over here" ;)

Once in that line I was fortunate enough to be chosen for random testing (at least it seemed pretty random, but perhaps there was a reason to the madness) - I'd put all my candy into one bag, so when the officer asked me what I had to declare, I could just show him that bag. "That's it?" he asked, incredulously (I don't know why... perhaps he'd expected me to declare nothing when it was so little, and so obviously okay? But that's against the rules!), and indicated for me to go out of the line and over to the side, where I had my bags checked by a dog, rather than by human hand. The dog was awfully interested in my dirty socks which was a tad embarrassing, but once its handler saw that that was the only thing in that pocket, she scolded the dog and told me to move on ;) Which I was more than happy to do, because I knew that Anne and her family were standing right outside the gate waiting for me!!!!!!!!!

Now, to fully understand my excitement about this, a bit of history is in order. Anne and I first met each other online on an L.M. Montgomery mailing list somewhere around 1997. For awhile we were merely list acquaintances, but we slowly started exchanging personal emails, discovered each others' blogs and friended each other on MSN Messenger. Around 2004-2005 we'd be chatting for hours more or less daily. She is the kind of friend I could text at 4am and it wouldn't matter that I woke her up, and she is always there for me when I need her. I count her among my closest friends... but, we'd never met, and only spoken on the phone a couple of times.

So when this trip came around, and I discovered that I'd be going by myself, it seemed absolutely ridiculous to be so close to Australia and NOT take the opportunity for us to FINALLY meet in person. Both of us were eagerly counting down the days for months and suddenly we were down to mere minutes! I walked through the gate - and saw people eagerly waving Danish flags!

I immediately recognized Ian and Mike (Anne's husband and son) - and would have even without the flags - but think they took a bit longer to recognize me ;) Anne had been off with Giana (her daughter) somewhere, but quickly came running when she saw that I'd arrived, and after approx. 15 years, we could FINALLY give each other a hug in person :-)

We quickly dropped by their place to drop off my suitcase and pick up a picnic basket, and then drove off to Featherdale Wildlife Park to spend the morning there. I ended up having a terrific time - I got to hold a snake, feed wallabys and kangaroos and pet a koala! :-D A fantastic time was had by all, I think. Mike and Giana certainly had the time of their lives feeding the kangaroos... especially when one kangaroo stole the rest of Mike's 'cup' (an icecream cone), and Giana fed the rest of hers to a joey wallaby (no clue if it's still called a joey when it's a wallaby rather than a kangaroo) and an emu came to steal it!!! Purely by luck I managed to get a photo of that!

I'm always amused by animals sitting in funny and humanlike positions.

The poor thing was COLD!!! It hung on to me quite tightly to steal some of my heat.

The thieving emu!

These penguins stood and walked in formation! So cute :D

The tasmanian devil kept runing around and around the rock formation in the middle of its enclosure. By the time we arrived, it had made quite a track around it!

I was fascinated by both the albino wallaby and the albino peacock!

We ended the visit off with a lovely BBQ picnic and then (of course) a trip through the souvenier store, so I could get a keepsake and some pressies.

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