Tag Archives: Sydney

Australia, part 1

Ben Starr in AustraliaGreetings from Sydney, Australia! I’m sending this on Friday morning at 10:00am, but for most of you it’s 5:00pm on Thursday.

J-P and I flew here yesterday after just barely escaping a big ice storm that practically shut down the DFW airport just a few hours after our plane departed. Our flight from Los Angeles to Sydney was 14 and a half hours! Torture for some…especially J-P. I think he slept a total of 30 minutes. Not me! I probably slept 10!

About a third of the way through the flight we flew right across the Big Island of Hawaii, and could see the telescopes on top of Mauna Kea! The windward side of the island was covered in clouds, so we couldn’t see the volcano erupting, unfortunately.

After a massive transportation fiasco when we arrived at midnight in Sydney, we finally made it to our hostel. Today we’ll tool around Sydney, hopefully catching a good butt and scarf picture in front of the Sydney opera house, and tomorrow we fly to the Australian west coast to Perth, for a birthday party.

Last winter while on the cruise to Antarctica, J-P and I became very close with our tablemates on the ship, two Australian couples in their late 50s. They were crude, irreverent, and uncouth…and we were DELIGHTED to share our table each night with them! The oldest of them, Pete, owns a golf resort in Australia. He said his dream was always to be an American Cowboy. We grew very attached to them, and vice versa.

After the cruise was over, they invited us to Australia to visit them. We said, “Of course, we’d love to come!”

And they said, “That’s what EVERYONE says, but they never do. Once you leave a cruise, you never see your friends every again.”

But we had a few surprises up our sleeve. We tracked them down at their hotel in Buenos Aires and surprised them in the lobby. We later found out they were headed to Iguassu Falls, on the border of Argentina and Brasil. So we flew up there, and surprised them in the lobby of their hotel AGAIN!

Of course, despite all the laughs we all got from those two incidents, they never believed we’d fly all the way to Australia to visit them.

Saturday is Wayne’s 60th birthday, and his wife Iris is throwing a huge party in Perth. She contacted us secretly and asked if we could make it, and we have conspired through her to surprise the ever-loving-crap out of him.

So that is the primary purpose of this trip…

I’ll let you all know how that goes in a few days.

Australia, part 2

So we just spent a lovely day in Sydney, doing all the quintessential Sydney things…

Ben Starr naked at the Sydney Opera House

My Butt and My Scarf: A Travel Portrait

I stripped naked in front of the opera house and got a fantastic Butt and Scarf photo. We strolled through The Rocks, a collection of the oldest buildings in Australia. We took the ferry to Manley, Sydney’s beach town, and walked around. The ferry back home was after sunset, so we got to see the spectacular Sydney skyline, complete with the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, all lit up.

Rainbow Lorikeet

Rainbow Lories in Sydney

One amazing thing I didn’t discover about Sydney on my last trip here is the AMAZING variety of bird life here in the inner city. There are magnificent green parrots, little parrots about the size of a small pigeon but splotched with reds and yellows and purples and blues (rainbow lorikeets), and LARGE white cockatoos with yellow head feathers…EVERYWHERE. The little lorikeets all alight on this one type of flowering shrub, and they drink the nectar of the flowers and get drunk. They’ll fall to the ground and stumble around, swawking loudly. Wayne says that sometimes they’ll fly right into buildings if they’re drunk enough. The big white cockatoos screech and land on people’s chimneys. It’s so strange to see these birds that Americans pay $2000 and $3000 each for…just as common here as street pigeons.

Lunch was fish’n’chips, which didn’t agree with J-P. He’s now holed up in the hostel trying to get control of everything. I’m going to stroll about the seedy district where all the backpacker hostels are for a bit and then hit the sack. We have a long flight tomorrow to Perth (5 hours…not long compared to the flight here from LA! But just as long as a New York-LA flight.)