Visitors to meet a greeter again

Greeters back to show off Sydney as visitors return

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LOCAL KNOWLEDGE: Sydney Greeter Lyn Sheather with the Lim family from San Francisco.

LOCAL KNOWLEDGE: Sydney Greeter Lyn Sheather with the Lim family from San Francisco.

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Better new year for Sydney's volunteer guides as borders reopen.

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A group of Sydney volunteers is itching to get back to "work".

The Sydney Greeters' regular program of greeting visitors to the harbour city was suspended last March because of Covid-19.

For the first time since the program was founded in 2015, there were simply no visitors to greet.

But the good news for visitors is that now borders have reopened, the free service will resume on January 1 and visitors can once again book a greeter to show them around Sydney.

Before meeting up, the visitors and volunteer greeters communicate by email to work out what interests the guests have and where they would like to go.

Every visitor is different - like UK couple Wendy and Robert who were huge fans of the musical Priscilla Queen of the Desert and had seen it performed more than 50 times around the world.

They asked greeter Lyn Sheather to take them to the old Les Girls site in Kings Cross where Carlotta, who inspired the show, has her name plaque on the pavement.

For a vision impaired visitor Karine from Marseilles, France, Lyn booked a "touch tour" of the Opera House and later at the gift shop Karine had the opportunity to feel a scale model of the famous icon to better appreciate its unusual shape.

During their time together Lyn discovered that Karine was an accomplished jazz musician and so took her to heritage pub The Hero of Waterloo in The Rocks, where Karine delighted audiences by playing with the resident band.

Lyn is keen to stress that visitors are not the only ones to benefit.

"By welcoming guests to Sydney, we broaden our knowledge of people, places and cultures and expand our friendship circle" she said.

There are no parameters to the outings which generally last about three hours. Some visitors prefer to get to know the city while others want to explore further afield. They may end up discovering the street art and vintage shops of Newtown, or wandering through The Rocks laneways.

Alternatively, they could take a ferry to Watsons Bay for fish and chips and a walk to South Head or may choose to walk across the harbour bridge to Wendy's Secret Garden.

One of the three Sydney Greeter co-founders, Mario Lausberg, says that "having had one of the most memorable travel experiences with a Japanese Greeter" prompted him to start a similar program in Sydney five years ago.

Visitors really love the personal side of being greeted by a local. Among the many testimonials was one from Canadian Sandra Wood, who wrote "We saw and learned so many more things not possible when one is a stranger to a city" while American Sandra Howell said "it felt like an afternoon with a friend".

There are currently around 50 active Sydney Greeters who offer their services either monthly or weekly depending on the time they have available.

Tipping is not allowed, however a donation to the organisation (possible through the website) helps defray insurance and administration costs.

sydney.greeters.info

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