25 Jul

One of the high lights of the trip thus far is the War Memorial in Canberra.  A gorgeous structure with numerable exhibits that go back as far as the Boer war.  It was here that I finally did my podcast as I loved the scenery as well as the interactivity the exhibit creates.  It is hard not to be engaged here.  Plus, the pomp and circumstance of the venue at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is awe inspiring.  It would be nice to teach these manners at school back home, though I wonder if our students could handle this structure in large numbers.

Red Poppies are everywhere here at the memorial

If there is a unique place to visit, the War Memorial/Museum in Canberra is a somber and unique experience. The technology used to bring forth a rewarding, informational and sensory experience is the modern idea. The aviation wing features several mini features from a bombing run in WWII and a dog fight in WWI (the latter directed by Peter Jackson). Then, in the hall of heroes from the various battle fronts, the museum has bit.ly links to get further information on the individuals in question. How cool would that be at a museum to have either a QR image or a bit.ly link to see video footage or gain additional biographical information on what you are viewing? This museum has that which is a great feature to add to the museums interactive qualities.

If you ever have a chance to visit a memorial – and I do hope you visit the war memorials at Washington DC, incredible – the memorial in Canberra is impressive. The use of red poppies as a symbol of remembrance for those who have fallen is a beautiful symbol.

This person is comfortable

After the memorial/museum, we headed out to Gold Creek Station, a sheep ranch with about 2000 head of sheep.  Craig and Sandy run a gorgeous ranch here that is not only a working ranch, but sees about 30 tour groups a year to show them what a real ranch is like.  We had lunch, got to handle a few sheep, round them up with a Kelpy sheep dog (spelling?)  The kids had a blast, and even though the weather was cold and wet, the family was incredibly gracious and hospitable.  You can check them out on Facebook, look for Gold Creek Station, I will post some pictures there as well.
Now, we are on our way back to Sydney to fly to Darwin. We should arrive about midnight in northern territory time, to the hotel about one thirty.  A long day to say the least.  In the mean time, we watching some Crocodile Dundee to get an idea of our trip to the outback.  Oh, and one more stop by McDonalds, I may have to go for a latte this time, caffeine sounds good.

Gloria Jeane is the chain of choice in Australia – an expensive cup of coffee, but it carried me over to the flight where I can enjoy a delicious dinner of who knows what.  I’ll let you know if it’s good, I will say the flight over had a pretty good meal, though the domestic flight is a different monster all together.  One side note on flying Qantas – in the international flight you have the option of a small bottle of Aussie wine to drink.  Being with P2P I declined as that is the policy.  However, in hindsight, I could have asked for the bottle, and then put in my carry-on and had it when I got home. There is no wine option for the domestic flight.

I have cash (we are hitting another flea market up north, the best place to buy souvenirs as the shops and stores at the venues we visit are ridiculously expensive).  So far, I’ve gotten some nice things for the family, post cards, etc.  I knew I would spend a bit at some places, less at others.  There is not much I need or want, a few things I set out to buy like items from The HardRock, the Opal Store, my Aussie Jacket ($10), and postcards.  I’m not looking to buy anything else crazy, so all is well.
Off to Darwin, we are scheduled to land around 12:30 Darwin time.  That means we will be at our hotel about 2:00 AM give or take.  We get to sleep in though, breakfast is at 8:30, much better that 6:15.

My last bit of confusion, head phones.  I cannot express how excited I am to be in another country, experiencing their culture, and taking in all of the sights and sounds it has to offer.  However, I am in awe of the several students who continue to walk around with their headphones in their ears and turned on.  We have asked them to take them out – a couple of the kids we have asked several times – with one commenting, “There wasn’t much going on so I was sitting in a corner listening to music.” Not much going on? We were outside throwing boomerangs and wrangling sheep, a few people came in because it was cold and were standing by the fire drinking hot chocolate, we were on a working sheep ranch – the founders wife was in making coffee and tea for people to drink telling stories of the ancient coffee pot that was used to feed the shearers 50 years ago.  What I  have learned of today’s youth, it is easier to withdrawal into a world of music and media while shutting down socially.  I’m not sure why, maybe they feel that it’s too much work to start a conversation or make a friend – but this lack of socialability is concerning.  Even more, is the students who chose to engage, but keep an headphone in one ear listening to music.  To think, as a spectator, that I can have a conversation with someone who is also listening to music is appalling.  Either talk to me or not, but don’t half listen.  Kids need to be taught that this is inappropriate.  I am consistently worried about kids who feel it is okay to be out with a friend or on a date and to be ignored while their friend texts or calls another person.  If we are not careful, Fahrenheit 451 will become a reality instead of a classic piece of literature.

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