Tag Archives: australia
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.

I’m on the Bus

22 Jul

With the push of a button I had just spent $20 for 500 MB of internet.  I’m so used to wifi in the US, completely oblivious to the cost of wifi abroad, paying for the bandwidth and data vs. actual time on the web.  I was successfully able to upload some more pictures, share them, and share a Skype call with my wife on our anniversary. As my wife positioned the camera I could see my daughter staring, and with a brief pause, she yelled “Daddy!” The rest of the conversation was either a “daddy” or “mommy” or “Gingy” as she could see her own picture on the screen. Not a bad way to start the day than hearing and seeing my beautiful family.  Continue reading

Blue Mountains and Absailing

21 Jul

Day 2, or day 3 if you are playing the home version, came with the leadership group Fullon out of New Zealand.

The three sisters in the Blue Mountains of Australia

We took a two hour drive up into the Blue Mountains of Australia.  Weather, perfect. Slightly cloudy, but warm, and fog in the valley’s which created some wonderful views of the mountain range and the scenery below.

We did a quick stop to see the three sisters.  The story goes that two tribes were fighting. To bring peace, the father of one tribe wanted his sons to marry the daughters of the other tribe.  This accord did not come to fruition and so the groups went to war.  To protect the daughters, a medicine man turned the daughters to stone.  Unfortunately, the medicine man was killed, and being the only one who could turn the sisters back, the sisters have remained in their current form for eternity.

At this point, I cannot say enough good things about Fullon, a highly interactive and well put together program.  We were fortunate enough to have Paul, founder of Fullon, lead our group of intrepid high school students.  We were also endowed with a couple of young leaders with a few years of experience with Fullon, Susan and Sandy, all from New Zealand.  Fullon runs programs in several countries: New Zealand, Australia, Italy, England, Scotland and many other parts of Europe.  Needless to say, if you are traveling abroad with a group, they are worth the call. Continue reading

It’s Called LAX for a Reason

20 Jul

The Ever Popular Burger King Starbucks Franchise at LAX

Day one of Australia took off on a jet … like a jet … as fast as a jet could go minus the six hour lay over in LAX (anyone else pick up on the shortened term for Los Angeles International – it’s like a laxative running through you sapping all of your resources and energy). The main terminal was not bad, Burger King/Starbucks, Chili’s to Go (still haven’t figured out that name) and a few book stores.  The international side, whew, absolutely nothing there with the construction going on.  Not much to choose from, a decent amount of space, and lot’s of waiting. Oh, and be prepared, not too many places to plug in appliances, probably part of their huge remodeling project.

Still, the kids were in a good mood, we were all excited to be on our way.  The girls hit on the cute dumb boys and made fools of themselves, the rest of the group formed their cliques (mostly by groups of boys and girls).  I’m still amazed to watch the boys and girls interact – the girls who are flirting will pull all of the same old tricks, the guys pretty much sit there and flex – like peacocks – not really saying anything.  It’s fairly awkward, but I guess that’s how it is in these early years. Continue reading

My Experiment with Free International Calling

13 Jun

In two weeks I depart with a group of students and a fellow teacher to Australia.  This will be my first trip to the continent down under, so my excitement builds as my departure date approaches.  I have one conundrum, as I will be in another country, I need a way to communicate with my family and friends at home.  Obviously, social media will an easy hit, and wifi is readily available.  However, I would like to be able to see my wife and one year old daughter a few times during my nearly three weeks away from my family. So, I’m going to experiment with Skype and Google Voice to see if I can place phone calls and connect with my family from half a world away.

Continue reading