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Diving for dummies
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Australia in which dreams come true

..And don’t tell me that this is a stamp that is indecent to use in a decent magazine. Because in Australia, my most important, most childhood dream came true. Behind this dream, it was imperative to go to the ends of the world, because koalas, well, absolutely nowhere else in the world. And here it was necessary to go here for the silvery eucalyptus groves, the most endless watercolor beaches, the funniest Australians and the most serene happiness. But all this I learned already on the spot.

The fact that sooner or later Australia will happen in my life, I realized in the seventh grade. This confidence came to me in the form of a small photograph in a geography textbook (as I remember now, below on the right page): a furry animal of some unearthly charm, tightly hugging the trunk of an eucalyptus. Since then, I have learned everything about koalas that I have possibly set up a small koalas museum at home (including the film “Our friend koala” and the same textbook that I didn’t pass to the library fraudulently) and began to distrust people speaking : “Koala? Ah, it’s such a black bear with white circles around the eyes!” So, you see, a trip to Australia was absolutely inevitable.

… Leaving Sydney airport, I was ready with suitcases to go to the zoo, national park or where koalas still live there. But the guys from the company that hosted me dissuaded: “Well, you see the koala – and what will you do next? Put it aside for a snack!” For a whole week I walked around Sydney and its environs, peered with hope at the crowns of eucalyptus trees, bought up all possible books and albums with koalas (and you could buy absolutely everything – from a koala-shaped toilet brush to gold earrings with opal eyes – Australians no less obsessed with them). At the same time, for some reason I did not meet the museum of koalas. This is the only museum that I would probably visit in Sydney. Everyone else, having felt the warmth of the sun and the smell of the sea, I mentally canceled. “Well, what museums are you, such wonderful weather!” – reassured my conscience of the locals, putting me in a jeep and taking me to the park, then to the beach, then ride around the city. We fed long-billed ibis and arrogant gulls in Sydney parks, which, as expected in November, fragrantly bloomed with something curly-lilac and shaggy-red. They caught the hot spring sun on clean and spacious city beaches (no European fuss and the smell of fried fish!), The most fashionable of which – Bondi Beach – is located in the “Russian Quarter”. “It’s fortunate for you that it’s November,” the Sydney men told me. “You can’t sunbathe so boldly in January – the sun in Australia is quite dangerous. If you see anyone in swimming trunks, it’s a tourist. special costumes. ” Seeing that I was nervous, they added: “Well, now spring morning …”

In the Blue Mountains

“Get acquainted, this is Duncan,” Sydney acquaintances told me one morning. “He will show you the Blue Mountains, the famous national park. Duncan is the principal of the college, a serious man.” And they added, thinking: “Perhaps koalas are also found in the Blue Mountains.”

When we left the city, it seemed that from a bright modern film we find ourselves in a faded chronicle. The colors of provincial Australia: silver – eucalyptus, brown – earth, muddy green – rivers. Along the highway, every couple of hundred meters, there are bright yellow signs: “Koala 2 km”, “Attention: kangaroos!” I demanded to stop the car, stroking a smooth, as if polished bark of trees, and even furtively chewing on a eucalyptus leaf. For my taste it’s bitter, but for koalas, apparently, just right. “Where do you tear leaves? By the road?” Duncan remarked my maneuvers. “They are dirty and bitter here!” – and crunched branches somewhere inland. After a couple of minutes, he returned with an armful of leaves. Chewing one, he smiled: “This one is much better.” Lovely, sweet ozzy.

After an hour and a half a quick drive, the car began to dive downhill, then climb up, the eucalyptus groves turned into a thicket, it became colder, and I realized that we were approaching the mountains. “Some of them are low,” I thought disappointedly. Duncan stopped the car in the clearing and said: “I will show you something that not a single tourist has seen. This is a place few people know.” For about five minutes we made our way through the trees until the sky appeared behind them. I took a step and … Duncan grabbed my hand: “Watch out, don’t fall!”

We stood on top of a giant cliff overgrown with forest. The mountains were on the right, on the left, and underfoot, somewhere far, far below, a forest stretched for some boundless number of kilometers. If it weren’t for the cable car, I would have thought that wild animals live in these primeval forests, and people, by a strange coincidence, forgot about their existence. “And you probably saw those three peaks on all the postcards,” Duncan waved his hand in the direction of the three-headed mountain. “These are our Three Sisters. According to the Aboriginal legend, these are three girls turned to stone by their father for disobedience.”

“And there are also kookaburry!” – added Duncan and dragged me back. I really wanted to look at kookabur – this bird, together with the malicious and platypus, was sitting on the emblem of the Olympics 2000. We held our breath and froze, but she did not show up. Duncan almost cried. Suddenly, the director of the college began to strangely bounce and claw: “Where-and-where!” After a couple of minutes, their wings flapped, a plump multi-colored bird sat on a nearby tree and looked with interest at Duncan. He was triumphant.

We returned to Sydney late in the evening. It was already dark, and the stars were shining with might and main. I suddenly remembered that in the Southern Hemisphere there is no Ursa Major, but there is a Southern Cross. “Duncan, where is the Southern Cross?” I asked by the way. He did not answer, and I thought I asked something indecent. Soon we left the highway, and then we drove into the field. Duncan stopped the car and got out. “I wanted to move away from the lights so that the stars were better visible. The Southern Cross – here it is!” I did not see the constellation, but I did not tell Duncan about it. Who knows what he would come up with then?

A dream is at stake

On the eve of departure from Sydney, we finally went to Taronga Zoo, the zoo there (an additional entertainment is to go there through the bay to the “ferry”: you sit in the stern, look at the receding center of Sydney until the illegible giants of the skyscrapers turn into a glossy view card with a tower Sydney Bridge and Opera House). “And koalas can’t have a day off? And they will let me hold them? Are there many of them?” – I was worried, and the organizers laughed and reassured me. And now the line from the Japanese has been stood up to photograph the kangaroo, the peacock walking along the paths between the visitors has been stroked, the attraction “Bowing Elephant” has been watched, and the sleepy wombat has been awakened. And now – you won’t believe it, my heart was beating like before an exam! – pen with the inscription “Koala”. Empty. In the distance, among the foliage, there was something fluffy that could be the back of a koala. And the schedule: “Photo with koala: 10.00-12.00 a.m.”. We rushed to the employee with a broom: “Please, we should see a koala, we have arrived from Russia, we’ll leave tomorrow!” A frightened worker lisped something about the gentle spiritual organization of koalas, about stress, about the fact that they were all tired, sleeping and were not ordered to wake them. The guys caught me, fainting, and dragged me to the zoo’s directorate. There are a lot of polite girls, similar to Dr. Queen, a female doctor, and shocked by the fact that I specially flew from Russia for one day to prepare a report on their zoo (what else could we come up with?), Presented us with all possible booklets and press Releases on the newly born Walabi Lizzy and the platypus Martin. But even they, these lovely girls, could not console me: “The koalas are sleeping, they are tired, well, we won’t interfere” … In the evening I wept in the arms of the organizers. They smiled guiltily and promised to arrange everything.

To the Gold Coast

The next morning we flew to Brisbane. At the airport after the traditional “Hello!” and “How are you?” The charming fat man meeting us asked Michael: “Who is the girl who came from Russia to see the koala?” And then, wherever we go – to a restaurant, water park or botanical garden, Michael smiled slyly and said: “But this is all nonsense compared to koalas …” Only once he did not say that. When he drove us to the Gold Coast, Gold Coast, the famous Australian resort, where surfers from all over the world gather in search of the perfect wave. When the road turned to the ocean after a couple of hours, Michael stopped the car. It was not hot, we did not take swimsuits. Michael twisted the legs of his expensive suit and walked knee-deep in the water. Silky sand tickled her bare feet nicely. On the left, the ocean splashed alarmingly, on the right, on the other side of the wide beach, hotels, skyscrapers, restaurants and various water activities flavored with tropical greens glittered in the sun, and all this somewhere in infinity merged into a trembling golden-blue mirage.

A meeting

On the last day before leaving, Michael drove in early with an extremely solemn look. “Koalas,” he said, and winked. We left the city: it smelled like eucalyptus, it was warm rain. At the intersection, Michael ignored the “Lone Pine. Koala Sanctuary” sign and turned the other way. Soon we stopped, Michael got out of the car and began to walk in circles with the look of a hunting cat. He returned upset: “I take my daughter here three times a week to Japanese classes. And we always, always saw a koala here! But today he’s not here …” “God, dear, dear Ozzy,” I thought in another time. And we returned to the highway. … The rain somehow quietly ended. From all the trees, koalas looked at me. Hundreds of koalas. Some of them, of course, were asleep, but the majority ran, crawled, played, ate, washed. They were beautiful. The minister patiently asked: “Which of them would you like to take a picture with?” I looked around bewilderedly and nodded toward the young and mobile koala. “His name is Eric,” the minister said, sitting the animal in my arms.

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