After leaving our work away in Byron Bay we made our way South to Sydney. We drove through what seemed like endless amounts of National Parks, all of which boasted beautiful beaches or lush rainforest. Australia is a massive continent and traversing it by automobile takes considerable time and petrol. Small towns are littered between the major cities and many of those places seemed frozen in time. Few people could be seen as we drove through looking for food or accommodation. After staying in a highway motel, whose best days had long past, we flirted with expediting our journey and arriving in Sydney early. Our plan was to stay with a friend of Mark’s aunt’s for the entirety of our Sydney visit. After contacting him, he encouraged us to arrive in Sydney early. We didn’t need much convincing and before we knew it we were being greeted by a friendly face.
Our host’s name was Richard. He is a laid back Aussie with a gravelly voice and a quick wit. He’s humorous and was extremely hospitable; attentive to our every need and making us feel like we were at home. Part of his charm is in his bachelor way of living: toilet paper rolls acted as doorstops, sheets as drapes. All trivial things that people pass judgement on far too quickly. Richard is a cameraman/cinematographer and has travelled the world filming movies. He’s also travelled as a backpacker so he understood the things tired travelers crave. He gladly offered to be our exclusive tour guide for our stay in Sydney and we happily agreed. Little did we know what that service would entail. Steak, drinks, more steak, tours, advice, tips, more steak, Tim Tams (fantastic Aussie, chocolate biscuits), beef pie and Koala petting.
We accomplished so much in such a short time both in terms of caloric intake and sightseeing. Richard has a trained eye for seeing a “shot” in a particular way. We were able to experience his talent firsthand and often be included in it. You don’t just see the Opera House – you see the Opera House with the perfect amount of ferries, the coat hanger bridge as a backstop and just the right lighting. We were delighted when he took the reins and did most of our day plans with insightful suggestions. He immediately knew how tired we were of doing tedious travel plans.
We visited Koala Park which is exactly what it sounds like. Fuzzy, exhausted koalas hang from eucalyptus trees as tourists feed and pet them. Kangaroos, emus, wombats, dingos, wallabies, also live at the park. Feeling like children at a petting zoo we tried to chase down the various exotic animals. Unfortunately, most had overeaten by the time us Canadians rolled in with our bags of Alfalfa. Alayna tried coaxing the rotund wallabys from their slumber in the shade and managed to feed one: success!
We were absolutely spoiled and we loved it. The food in Sydney was delicious and the company even better. Our host seemed to comfort the hidden struggles that you feel after so long on the road. He could relate to them as he had walked in our footsteps many years ago. After numerous funny moments and interesting conversations, we were being dropped back at the airport. Hugging goodbye seemed difficult as we were about to step back into the cold, lonely world. No more steak dinners and careful guidance. Thank you Richard, you made Sydney very special.