Editor at large: Feathered friends in Sydney

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    A wild rainbow lorikeet hops onto Natalie’s finger before flying off to join his mate on the roof.

    Earlier this week, we disembarked from our second international flight on this trip, after flying from Queenstown, New Zealand to Sydney, Australia. After going through customs, we were two subway rides away from King’s Cross, the suburb where our hostel was located. Then, it was up another three flights of stairs to our room on the top floor.

    We have gotten used to hauling our baggage, and it’s not a problem, but part of me wishes I had packed a little lighter (as always).

    We opened the door to our little room. Though we were staying in a hostel, we got a private room with a small refrigerator and safe. It wasn’t much, but it was fine.

    It was quite a bit warmer in Sydney than in Queenstown. The air in our room hung heavily, clinging to us as we set our stuff down. I turned on the fan and went to the window to open it, hoping it may cool down later in the evening.

    As I flicked the drapes to the side, a flash of color drifted to the window sill and whistled. I knew immediately that it was a rainbow lorikeet–and then I remembered that dozens of parrots can still be found wild in Australia (I loved parrots as a kid and used to read a lot about them).

    The bird looked at me and whistled again. I said hello and moved closer. I held my hand out and the bird looked back and forth from my face to my hand. He whistled again. I told him it was okay, and he held a foot up, as though asking to hop onto my finger. I held my hand out to him again and he politely stepped on for just a moment before flying off to meet his mate on the roof of the hostel.

    From that point on, I spent most of our walks through Sydney looking up. Rainbow lorikeets climbed in and out of the palm trees in the gardens. Cockatoos screamed as they flew in a large flock overhead. We even spotted a few laughing kookaburras hanging around, though we couldn’t get any of them to laugh at us.

    Sydney reminds me of New York. Bars and restaurants are full of suits, pencil skirts and high heels. Tourists from all around the world crowd the areas with the best views. A street performer near the ferry landing balanced on a 10-foot tall unicycle and asked a volunteer from the crowd to throw up his oiled juggling pins so he could light them on fire and toss one under his leg.

    Our next day in Sydney was windy, but still warm. We went to the zoo to see kangaroos, koalas and a platypus.

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    The Opera House and Sydney Harbor Bridge lit up at night from the far side of the harbor.

    That evening, we walked the nearly three-quarter-mile walk across the Sydney Harbor Bridge. We noticed a line of stopped buses waiting to enter the bridge, though other traffic seemed to be moving. Off to the right, a helicopter hung in the air. I assumed it was a news helicopter, and as we moved farther up the bridge we saw a bus had caught fire, which is why the bus lanes were all stopped. Even while on vacation in another country, I got excited. I will always love covering breaking news.

    From every angle, the Sydney Opera House impresses. There’s always something a little profound about visiting a landmark that you’ve seen a thousand times on television, but for me, this was one of the more impressive sights in person. It’s much taller than I expected, and its location below the Sydney Harbor Bridge allows for beautiful scenic photos from several locations around the coast.

    We turned in early on our last night so we would have time to do laundry in the morning before our flight. Our stay in Sydney was short, but sufficient. We were getting excited to get to Cairns, to scuba dive in the Great Barrier Reef.

    – By Natalie Covate

    Just-married Natalie Covate, editor of MLTnews, is writing about her honeymoon adventures.

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