We have started our big adventure. We made it into Sydney with no real trouble, the flight was mostly smooth, arrived slightly ahead of schedule, and we breezed through customs without having to say much. However, I did have a small amount of frustration in Detroit before we left. The first TSA agent I encountered didn’t know much about computers and said that I would need to run all of my large computer parts through the X-Ray separately. This meant unpacking an entire carry on bag; I decided that bringing my desktop was going to be considerably cheaper and give me a better overall experience in Australia than buying a new computer. I trusted myself carrying all the parts on a plane more than I trusted the baggage throwers, so they were all in a carry on bag padded with clothing. As I was unpacking, one of the other TSA agents started talking to me about all the parts and how he was planning to build a very similar PC. He then laughed and said I really only needed to run the power supply through separately, which would have meant very little unpacking! In Sydney, they didn’t blink an eye at all of the hardware, hurray!
We got here with very little actually planned. A woman Adrienne had previously worked with and her husband graciously offered to let us stay with them while we got on our feet. To help us stay awake, they brought us to a small zoo named Featherdale the day we arrived. Compared to most zoos, this one was rather small with and did not have a wide variety of wildlife, focusing on only Australian animals. Featherdale makes up for what it lacks in size with one of the best zoo features ever: it is expected that you will try to feed and pet many of the animals. In fact, in some cases the zoo actively encourages it! There are a ton of wallabies in open pens, so it is not at all uncommon to have one go whizzing past your knees. The keepers take the koalas out to be pet throughout the day, and the pens for the wombat, emu, red kangaroo, and other wallaby have open tops so that guests can reach over them to pet or feed the animals (thankfully, all the animals had off limits areas where they could retreat to if they grew weary of the humans.) Most of the other cages are accessible enough that the animals can be fed or touched. It was a pretty excellent experience, and I ended up petting many wallaby, a couple kangaroo, a couple emu (and having my hand bitten by one), an echidna, and a koala. The only notable disappointment was that there weren’t any platypus! This is a major oversight! How can you have a zoo full of Australian wildlife, and not have a platypus?
The most amusing part of zoo trip had to be a particular red tailed black cockatoo. It took a liking to me, and would follow me along it’s cage, using its beak and claws to shimmy along the wall until it caught up to me. I could walk back and forth in front or around the corners of the cage and it would follow me without fail. When I got out of sight, it would start making a racket. We came back to its cage a couple time, and it would start following me as soon as it saw me. It would also do these displays where it would spread its tail feathers and poof up its head plume for me. I think Adrienne may have felt a bit threatened.