Kununurra to Perth to Geraldton

Sorry you all have to keep reading just my experiences… hopefully the other team members will catch up soon! ūüôā

It’s been a bit difficult to get online with our busy schedule (pronounced shed-ual).

On Wednesday we toured the Argyle Diamond Mine with an excellent tour guide, Rhys! ¬†(Thanks Rhys!) ¬†Unfortunately, there were no clearance bins at the diamond mine, but we did get to wear super-cool hard hats and safety vests ūüôā ¬†We also saw wild horses, a stray cow, and a wallaby on the way to the mine. ¬†We also met a ton of long trucks on the way– called road trains for a very good reason. ¬†These were 4-trailers long, but Rhys said they can actually get up to 6-long.

We changed into our swim suits to head with another Rotary member to Lake Argyle for the sunset boat tour. ¬†What a beautiful lake! ¬†Spotted wallaroos, euros (even smaller kangaroo type animals), and crocodiles. ¬†There are actually 35,000 crocs in this lake!! ¬†It’s so large it is called an inland sea.

At sunset we stopped in the middle of the lake for a swim. ¬†Stephanie and I jumped off the roof of the boat– fun! ¬†Ryan also joined us for a swim while Randa yelled things like “what should I tell your 4-H’ers?” and “has your will been notarized?”

As the sun finished it’s incredible show over the lake, a bright star appeared– Venus!

On Thursday, Stephanie and I booked a 2-hour plane tour of the Bungle Bungles. ¬†They’re on the world heritage list, and are just gorgeous.

Then it was off to Perth for all of us, with Narelle and her daughter Ashley flying along to Perth.  Ashley was headed back to boarding school, and Narelle flew on to the conference here in Geraldton.  We spent one night with new host families (Stephanie and I even enjoyed fresh caught crayfishРlobster!! with Graham & Cheryl), then drove with them to the conference.

We moved in with another new family last night (Stephanie and I are staying together again, and we have pet birds at this house!), and spent last night and today at the conference and around Geraldton.

This morning’s speakers have been excellent– my favorite quote of the day is “beware the prism through which you view the world.” ¬†Expect to see that one in a future column ūüėČ

Last night we walked in a parade led by the Geraldton City Band, alongside the German GSE team and just in front of all the many Rotary exchange students here.  So neat to see this large, diverse gathering from around the world!

Hopefully I’ll have more time to post photos soon– until then, “g’day!”


4/17 Vocational & Service Day

Photos (beginning with bottles & bowl of cereal) https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.125224794268452.2500.113821622075436&type=1

Today marked our first vocational day. ¬†I’ll let the others post about their excursions ūüôā ¬†

I had the privilege to visit Save the Children this morning.  On one side of the building are the early childhood folks, serving children up to 5 with educational and fun playgroups.  They also work at the literacy center, and encourage kids to learn their native languageРsomething like only 27 people fully speak the indigenous language!  

On the other side of the building are the youth-aged programs. ¬†I went shopping with Ed to get ready for their camping trip (wish I could have gone!). ¬†My 4-H friends will never believe it– they had permission slips ready to drive around with, pick up kids and get a parent signature to go camping. ¬†The kids didn’t know this morning they’d be camping tonight!! ¬†Actually sounds like a pretty good¬†arrangement¬†to me– less luggage ūüôā ¬†They also gave me a great set of postcards and poster from their new ad campaign featuring local kids. ¬†Some of the families don’t even have a camera to take a photo of their child, and all the postcards feature words in both English and the native language. ¬†

The grocery store was a lot of fun, although they all laughed at me for taking photos ūüėČ

We all met back up for lunch at the Wild Mango.  If you stop by, be sure to have some bacon, lettuce, avocado & tomato sandwich.

After lunch I dropped by the aboriginal art gallery to make a few¬†souvenir¬†purchases and joined Nkandu at the Youth Centre for a dance practice. ¬†As it is school holidays, and so many local kids went on the camping trip, we had a small but fun group. ¬†Found some more Vampire Diary fans and passed out a few 4-H silly bandz. ¬†(And we danced the electric slide and macarena, plus a few moves from Montreat ice breakers…)

Nkandu dropped me off at the Warringari Chilling Space, a community room in the aboriginal community where kids can come 5 nights a week to eat and hang out with Save the Children folks . Ryan and a Rotary exchange student grilled some great snags (sausages) on the barbie (grill)!  Another student and I cut up the fixings (lettuce, tomato, capsicum[red bell pepper], onion and cheddar cheese).  Okay, so some of the cheese may not have made it to the table, but I was fair and let the kids sneak pieces, too!.  

Ryan played a game of ping pong with one of the kids while I enjoyed coloring a wombat coloring sheet with some other kids.  Small crowd tonight, with more adults than kids in attendance, but they say it is usually pretty packed.  

While many of the programs and aims of 4-H and these programs are similar, they also face some very unique challenges working in this community. ¬†The diversity of this town is probably the closest to home I’ll see on the entire trip. ¬†

Tomorrow is full of touristy and cultural things, so we’re looking forward to another big day!

Perth to Kununurra

More photos today, beginning with the Pepsi bottle about 50 photos down: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.125224794268452.2500.113821622075436&type=1

About an hour after our luggage finally arrived, we were repacked to fly to Kununurra (with a short stop in Broome) on the northern coast of Australia.  It is in the northeastern corner of Western Australia.  

Our lovely hosts picked us up at the airport and took us to our first host family homes, then we were off to Ivanhoe Cafe (home of Ryan’s host family) for our first Rotary meeting. ¬†They had a great crowd (50+ people?) and incredible food. ¬†We also gave a brief presentation.

(Will– if you’re reading this you’re the lucky first person to find a pen pal! ¬†A student who loves science, music & language!! ¬†)

Tomorrow we have vocational experiences, and each of us are so excited about the places we’re going. You’ll have to wait for photos and blog entries!

Are we there yet?

Photos so far: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.125224794268452.2500.113821622075436&type=3

We met up at Hartsfield-Atlanta at 7 a.m. EST (7 p.m. for our WA friends) on Friday, April 13. ¬†Friday 13th is my lucky day, and it was Ryan’s birthday, so we were set for a great trip! ¬†Must be lucky, because it turns out all our checked luggage is FREE! ūüôā

We caught our flight for Chicago, had lunch with Randa’s brother Mike, and re-entered security. ¬†And waited. And waited. And waited. ¬†Left over 2 hours late, which made us miss our connection in Hong Kong by a mere 10 minutes! ¬†We practically sprinted across the airport to catch our new flight to Adelaide (on the southern coast of Australia), but I guess our luggage wasn’t quite as quick. ¬†The folks at Qantas Air were excellent in Adelaide, taking down descriptions of all eight suitcases and escorting us through the airport, including customs & security (again!).

We finally arrived in Perth at 1 p.m., and were very thankful to discover our Australia Rotary friends had been great detectives– when we didn’t show up at 5:30 a.m. they had to do a lot of research to figure out where we were ūüôā ¬†The guys were great, dropping us off at our hotel and passing out schedules.

George caught up on some sleep while the rest of us went out to purchase cell phones, see a bit of downtown Perth, and have dinner. ¬†We’re doing laundry now just in case our luggage doesn’t show up before tomorrow’s flight to Kununurra!

4-H’ers learn about Australia

Prior to leaving, I worked with our 4-H’ers to learn about Australia and prepare a few things to bring on the trip. On Australia Day, we made and ate Fairy Bread (for my American friends, this is something Australians would make for a child’s birthday party– white bread, butter & “hundreds and thousands” which are round sprinkles), wrote pen pal letters, listened to “Six White Boomers” and made a scrapbook of our favorites to share with Australians. ¬†They also recorded some questions I’ll be sharing with people I meet.ImageImageImage