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© Copyright 2002, Joel A. Freeman, Ph.D. All rights reserved.
~ Pictures below and on 9
Throughout our time in Australia, Jesse (3rd son) and I
were in Youth Hostels, staying with interesting travelers from Korea,
Japan, Germany, U.K., Belgium, Argentina and some other places I can't
remember. Plus the price was right -- about $24 a night for both of us! At
the end of the trip I presented Jesse with a photo album containing each
day's photos, museum tickets, copies of faxes/emails to and from home and
Jesse and I had an absolutely wonderful time on our recent travels. We
visited Hawaii and Australia. We did a three-day layover in Hawaii on our
way. This helped to break up the trip and "gently" introduced us
to the 14 hour time difference. In Australia we visited cities in this
order -- From Honolulu we came to Sydney, then Brisbane, Cairns (Great
Barrier Reef), Ayers Rock, Perth, Melbourne and then back to Sydney. And
then home. By the way, Australia is huge -- about the size of the USA. The
seasons are opposite -- while we are experiencing Summer, Australia is
experiencing Winter. Our time in September ushered us into Spring in
Sydney. As we got closer to Brisbane and Cairns, the weather got
noticeably warmer. After all there are rain forests just above Cairns
Here's a quick overview of the trip, in chronological order:
*arrived in L.A. Stayed over night. Left for Honolulu the next morning.
*stayed at YWAM's base in Manoa Valley. I have visited this base many
times. They allowed us to
stay in the guest room.
*rented a silver mustang convertible that Jesse thought was real cool.
*visited Pearl Harbor
*snorkeled several times at Hanuama Bay near Honolulu. Saw exotic fish.
*saw the beautiful bridge and opera house in Sydney.
*visited the Australian Zoo, home of TV's Crocodile Hunter. "Crikey,
it was a beaut!"
*sailed out about 2 1/2 hours by big catamaran from Cairns to the Great
Barrier Reef for an all-day
*snorkeled and scuba-dived at the Great Barrier Reef. Jesse got underwater
pictures of two reef
sharks during a dive.
*went hot air ballooning -- up about 2000 feet over the outback.
*Jesse received a silver "promise ring" -- his statement of
preserving sexual purity till marriage
*train rides from Sydney to Brisbane (14 hours) and then from Melbourne
back to Sydney (11
*saw Ayers Rock -- a huge red rock that erupts out of the outback in the
middle of Australia.
*met a pastor in Perth. he took us out to dinner one evening. Had a great
*ate at McDonalds, KFC and Happy Jacks (actually Burger King) -- good
*saw a giant 3-D movie at a museum in Melbourne.
*14 hours in an airplane from Sydney to Los Angeles -- nonstop. This was
the first flight from Sydney
to North America since the tragedy of 9/11. I have never felt more
secure on a flight.
*both kept daily journals
Where were you when you heard about the tragedy in NYC and at the Pentagon
on 9/11? Sydney is 14 hours ahead of NY / DC time. We were ready to come
home and the guy in the next bunk said that we weren't going anywhere. I
told him that I was sure that our flight was leaving that day. He then
suggested that we should go watch the developing events on CNN. That is
where we discovered that all flights to North America had been cancelled.
For three days we tried to phone home. We couldn't get through. The lines
were jammed. We communicated the best we could by email at an Internet
Cafe. This was a very disconcerting for both of us, and of course everyone
back home. Jesse and I tried to keep things in perspective by remembering
that our inconvenience was nothing compared to the heartache experienced
The Australian Prime Minister was in Washington, DC at the time of the
attack. He was giving a briefing about 400 yards from the Pentagon when
the plane hit. Needless to say, the Australian press was all over this
story for several reasons.
In the Youth Hostel at Sydney there is a common area, with TV, on each
floor. During the first few days, we were mesmerized in front of the TV,
watching CNN with 20-30 others. While watching we would hear people from
other cultures groaning or sighing. The international concern and outrage
was obvious. People would meet us in the streets and after learning we
were from America, they would physically reach out and touch our arms,
expressing empathy. It was quite moving.
For over four days we did not know how long we were going to have to stay
in Australia. Some might say that being stranded in Sydney is not so bad
and they are correct. It is just that we were ready to come home, with
both of us feeling a wee bit homesick and also with both of us not feeling
Plus every morning, my main task was to find out the airline situation
with Quantas Airlines before 10AM, because that was when we needed to let
the Youth Hostel know if we were staying another night. The phone lines
were always busy. What complicated matters even more was that the 65-year
old Ansett Airlines (2nd largest airline in Australia) suddenly shut down
all operations the very day we were to come home. People all over
Australia were stranded in airports with no way to move. That is the main
reason why the phone lines to the airlines were all jammed. Add this to
everything else and it was quite a a wild experience.
We're exhausted and we had a blast! But it sure is good to be home!