Trip to Australia & New Zealand
with People to People. July 1998
Winter “The Interview” I thought that I had a pretty good chance of getting picked because I had a pretty diverse resume of Australia related things. I could play the didgeridoo too. I also knew the daughter of one of the ladies interviewing me.
I am very happy I got picked but now I have to worry about money for the trip.
1/11/98 1st Meeting There was a lot of people there. A few of them are really preppy. There are also cool people from all over. I think I could get to like a lot of them. These meetings might be kinda boring. There’s food there too. That’s pretty cool. There are some beautiful girls there too.
2/1/98 2nd Meeting We had to watch a video on rules. That won’t be a problem. Today me and Nick presented our Aboriginal report. I felt it went very well. Especially the musical part. I played the didgeridoo and Nick played the sticks. It was cool.
3/29/98 3rd Meeting We found out when we’re leaving. We also saw Connie Dewitt’s photo presentation. I’ve taken better photos than her. I don’t have to follow rules to get good photos. I’m an artist. My photos mean what I want even if it is all sky or far away people. Peter talked to us about $ too. It seems that all the group presentations turned out to be game shows between the parents and the kid. One thing, THE ANSWER IS B.
5/3/98 4th Meeting More game shows today. We always win. I just can’t wait for the trip.
6/14/98 Last Meeting The picnic was fun but the weather was horrible. I saw other people’s photo albums. Mine is pretty good compared to others. Our polo shirts are alright too. Grey is better than purple.
7/4/98 It’s so close now. I can’t wait. I’ve picked all my clothes I need to be washed. I bought new hiking boots. I hope I remember to pack everything. I hope I have enough room for everything. I have yet to buy home-stay gifts. Sometimes I wish I wasn’t going with as many people because I don’t know a lot of people’s names. I saw a girl at the mall a few days ago and I was just like, “Hey, you ready for the trip? I’m so psyched. Well see ya later.” I couldn’t remember her name. …It was Kristina.
Day 1 7/7/98 It’s 3:20, we just left Syracuse. Yeehah! I’m so excited. Syr. Really a beautiful city if you see it from the air. Plus it’s a lot sunnier up here. They split up all the students for the flight. I guess I’ll be sitting next to my alphabetical mates during the flights. I guess that’s alright. I read my journal from my Mexico trip a few days ago. Right now we’re at 10,000 feet. What I want to know is where are the parachutes? O.K. O2 masks are alright and floating seat cushions are all well and good but I rest easier if there were parachutes. Plus I could skydive! It’s amazing the sense of movement humans have. I can tell when we’re turning or leveling out. X It’s 8:15 Pacific time so that’s like 11:15 Eastern time. This has been a long 5 hour flight from Philly. We watched Titanic (A movie about a huge disaster while traveling) and I was in the very 1st row. Those of us who brought walkmans got to listen for free but other people had to pay $5 for headphones. There was also an episode of Seinfeld on. The one where George’s girlfriend is a pianist and Elaine laughs at her recital because Jerry put a Tweety Pez dispenser on her leg. If this flight seemed long I dread the 17 hours to Sydney. Well We’re nearing LA. I sat next to an off-duty stewardess & I was on the aisle. I still haven’t sat next to anyone in my group yet although Miranda, Nick, and Kristina were behind me. I could also see Jayne. I might have to check my carry-on as baggage so I might not write in this again. Bye. X
Day 2 7/9/98 We completely missed the 8th because of time differences. My sense of time is completely screwed up now. The 15 hour 50 min. flight was horrible. I probably only slept like AT MOST 6 hours but I seriously doubt that. I sat next to Kristina in a row with Laura & Erin. I was on the aisle again. The food wasn’t that good but the fruit ice cream bar was. I watched “The Object of My Affection” and “Lost in Space.” (A movie about navigational error while in flight. Great choice.) The time they served meals messed me up too. I think I had breakfast at 3:00 pm Syr. time. We clapped when we landed. Customs was nothing. I exchanged $140 in U.S. money to get $202 OZ money. This day has been amazing. We started right away on a double-decker bus w/ Adam driving & Claire as guide. We went to Bondi Beach 1st. I went w/ 2 girls to see a mosaic and a wall of spray paint. There are scribble tags everywhere. Then we went to a small park to take panoramic views of the city. We went to The Gap next. Not the store but the entrance to Sydney Bay. It was spectacular! I should get some awesome cliff photos. Then we went to Mrs Msomthing’s (McKwarie) chair & took some pictures of the Opera House. The chair was where the governor’s wife sat facing the bay. She would wait there for letters from England. We learned about Pinch Gut Island and Early Oz life in the penal colony. Since Sydney was already filled with criminals, there was no need for a prison because the whole continent was supposed to be a prison. But what do you do with someone who’s really terrible? Chain them to a post out on Pinch Gut and let them starve to death. Hence the name. They can’t swim to shore because even if they escaped the chain the sharks in the bay would take care of them. Then we went to the art Gallery to see Shawn ___? ____? do an aboriginal culture demonstration. He was awesome. I’d never seen anyone play the Yidaki (didgeridoo) in real life before. He was spectacular. Plus his were al’ natural. He was dressed in Adidas an Nike stuff. What the heck? He did a rap!? Then he took all the modern stuff off to reveal the semi-original (British regulation) clothing. Basically just a loin cloth. He did a few dances and asked for volunteers. Then he talked about paint. When he put his dance paint on he did it so precisely. I volunteered to do a hunting dance with Nick. We were searching for wild honey. We would use our boomerangs to bang on trees to see if there was buzzing inside. It was awesome! An old aboriginal woman said, “You must have done that before! You were so good.” It was cool. We had lunch on the bus and then confusion at the hotel. We left to go do a cruise around the bay. We had 20 min. to shop around so I visited a shop that sold didgeridoos. It was owned by an Asian woman. They were expensive and not too good. The cruise was really good except for the wind and the fact that I was wearing shorts. The guide told some of the prices of the huge homes right on the water. Needless to say it was many millions. I got some good pictures. We got off at one end of the bay and walked across a bridge to an underground mall. I paired off with Jayne & ?. We went to the coolest shop. Aboriginally owned and operated. With authentic art. Now here were some real Yidakis. The average price was $265. That’s a bit much. I did get to play them though. The shop owner came over and played too. He was really good too. I need to know how to make the WhAAAAHHW sound. And also to circular breathe. I bought two tapes. 1 solo & 1 w/ drums. After that we went to the Hard Rock Café. I’m listening to the tapes now. THEY RULE! The Café was pretty cool. I didn’t buy any T-shirts or anything like that. The food was good. The company was good. The day was overwhelming. I’m READY FOR BED. GOODNIGHT!
Day 3 7/10/98 We woke up at 6:30 for brekker at 7:15. We then left for our tour of the Sydney Opera House. It was very interesting. We went to the different theatres in order of size. Smallest which has like 170 something seats to the concert hall which has 2,000 something seats. The architecture was really cool. I loved his use of concrete. Some of it reminded me of Star Wars. I bought a picture of the inside because we weren’t allowed to take photos inside. It would be a breach of © law. We then walked to an opal store and had a presentation by a business man. It’s cool to think that some of Oz is still like a frontier town. With people jumping claims and getting run out of town. I really didn’t have any idea what opals were. I thought they were something like turquoise or topaz. They are really beautiful. They have a sparkling luminescence that’s quite brilliant. I bought a necklace for my Mom and the business man let me have some rough opal stones. After that we went to the Olympic swimming complex. That place is awesome. There are 3 big pools and then little ones with falls and rivers and slides. We got to go swimming for an hour. It was fun. We had meat pies for lunch beforehand too. Then we changed and left for the Oz Wildlife Zoo. It was great. I think I have an obsession with didgeridoos because everytime I see one I play it. I hope to make one on the farmstay. At the zoo I took some pictures. I have to budget my film. The animals were very cool. I couldn’t get a picture of a Tasmanian devil because he moved behind a log and went to sleep. They did sound just like the cartoon though. There was a man there that was just like Crocodile Dundee. He had a crocodile skin vest and told us that if we were ever bitten, to wrap a bandage spiraling downward from the body to the bite instead of a tourniquet. I took some pictures of bats, snakes, & crocodiles for pete. I also bought a koala for Aunt Flo. We also saw a sheep sheering presentation with two Aussie outback rancheroos. They were funny. They had a race to see which method of shearing was faster. The guy with the electric shears was faster until the guy with the hand shears reached up and turned the power off so he won. We saw a sheep dog in action. Apparently some of the flocks are so big that the best way for a dog to get around is to actually run on the backs of the sheep! They also cracked whips; the normal way, and swinging it around their heads and then down sharply. I tried it and got it on my 10th try or something. They also asked our tour guide to hold a piece of straw in her mouth with her eyes closed and then whipped it into smaller and smaller pieces. When it was a few inches away from her face, the other guy snuck up behind her so that when the whip crack he just plucked it out of her mouth and she was very surprised. We all laughed. Then we had dinner at the Outback Steakhouse. At first they told us that the meat was kangaroo & wallaby but then they told us it was just beef. After we went back to the hotel, I got ready to go to a play at the Sydney Opera House. We took a taxi (it’s cool, they have GPS system right on their dash) and then went into the theatre. There were only 5 tickets left that night so none of us would be sitting next to each other. I talked to a nice Aussie couple. It was hard to stay awake. The play was deep and serious but the drunken sister Claire kept it funny. It was about relationships. “A Delicate Balance.” I had coffee at the intermission & talked more with that couple. After the play we took a taxi back & went to BED.
Day 4 7/11/98 We got woken up at 5:30 and started to pack up. We went down to breakfast and then went up to get our bags and put them on our coach. We crossed Sydney Bridge but the view wasn’t picture worthy. Maybe it was the early morning, maybe it was the lighting. We had a long trip ahead of us. The rock on the side of the highway was cool like the smooth rock you see in zoo caves. We stopped at a shop that had aboriginal stuff (see back cover). Then we stopped at Scone. The horse town 2nd only to Kentucky. We met someone on the council & sang our national anthems. We then left and went to Tamworth. We walked around to shop but I didn’t buy anything. We visited a park with cool stone animal carvings. There was also a rugby game going on. Then we went to meet our home stay families. Jamie and I are staying with two girls. They’re really nice. We had steak/ kidney/ MUSHROOM pie for dinner. I tried my best to eat the mushrooms. Ughh. Then we watched the rugby game on TV. Oz –-vs- NZ. I really like my family. They’re great. The mom looks kinda like Mrs. Cross. We talked before dinner and we showed them our photo albums. Cathleen’s really cool. She’s Christian. Tamworth seems like a really cool Christain town. I’d like to spend more time here going to Cath’s church. Their dog Jerry is really cool/ funny/ energetic etc.
Day 5 7/12/98 I woke up around 9:30 but I got up at 10:00. I took a shower then came out for breakfast. We had soft-boiled eggs out on the patio. Then we went over to Vicki’s where Tammy and Jen were staying. I got in and she said, “Look at my newest instrument!” and she honked a huge horn at me. Then we just started taking out instruments. She said, “Let’s practice for tonight.” Alright. I got to play a twelve string. We had a real Aussie Bush Band. It was awesome. We played Aussie bush/Celtic/Polka music. Tammy & Fiona played violin, her son Alex played the stand up bass. Jamie played the tambourine, Vicki played the accordion, my new Mom played the egg shaker, and Cath played the tin whistle. We sounded really good. I also finally tried the bagpipes. The drones didn’t work real well but it was still fun. After that we walked up a hill to Marsupial Park. We met other students there and talked to cockatoos. “Hello Cocky.” “Dance cocky dance.” We also saw emus, roos and parrots. We had ham sandwiches and watched peacocks. I really wish I brought my camera. After lunch we went up to the lookout. The view from the top was spectacular. X@*%#. Oh well. I’ll just remember. There was a light-up cross there too. After that we went home to get some stuff before leaving for the BBQ. It was awesome. When we got there we went on a bush walk. That was fun. There were Bush Tiger cactus that sting real bad. I saw a few roos. When we got back the band set up and we played. At first everyone just clapped but after a while they started dancing and taking turns with the percussion instruments. Dinner was served after we played. It was good. Burgers and potatoes. I also had kangaroo sausage. It was actually good! I played guitar for a few people & Cath and got to see the Southern Cross. Jamie and I told jokes w/ some people. This kid showed me how to do weird noises on the yidaki. We went home & played w/ the dog & then went to bed & talked.
Day 6 7/13/98 We woke up at 7:52 and packed in about 5 min. We had already decided on the home-stay gifts last night. We came in and had breakfast and then gave them the gifts. Cath gave me a card. We took their picture & then we left. We got on the bus and sang the anthem, then left. I sat next to Jayne on the bus. We listened to Celtic ♫ on the bus while traveling to the heart of celtic heritage in Oz. We heard this really old guy tell us all about the local tales of outlaws and dingos and kangaroos in verse form. He was cool. There was also a sapphire shop. We went and saw the standing stones. 24 in a ○ for hours. Also a S. Cross. An American owns the most easterly because it’s closest to the U.S. On the road again we played bus games. We finally arrived at Adora Downs. We picked our rooms then had dinner. Then we had a camp fire. This guy Mike played the guitar and we learned some real Aussie songs. Then we had a chance. I sang the School Anthem. After that we had our talent show in the big room. The ’Ricans’ did the leg crossed skit. Spice Girls. K. I juggled. There was a Shakespeare Production of the Jaberwoki. Bed. Fun in cabin.
Day 7 7/14/98 We woke up around 7:45 for brekker at 8. I’ve been eating huge breakfasts compared to in the States. After our tucker we had a hay wagon ride around the property. We went across a cow pasture and saw the devil cow shark. We went to a barn and I got to milk a cow. The 1st try I didn’t do it but after that it worked fine. I found some discarded horns around the yard. We went to the saddle area. Only 5 people could ride at a time. Other people drove the tractor. We drove to the bottom of a hill & tied up the horses. We climbed the hill of igneous rocks. The view was good. I tried looking for a yidaki. We climbed down the other side and walked back around. I got to drive the tractor. When we got back we had lunch at the campfire. The mustard was hot. JNTKMS and Me talked in our lodge and had fun. Then I went horse riding. I rode the white horse first and we galloped around the whole field. It was so fun I rode off and on all afternoon. At one point I was giving my horse a rest by walking when Steve galloped by and said, “ This horse is fast aye?” I said, “Yeah” and he rode off. I gave him 100 feet or so and then went, “Heeyah! Heeyah!” I “spurred” my horse on to greater and greater speeds. When I passed him I said, “Yeah but mine’s faster!” I won. I beat him. Riding was so fun! After that we played volleyball game. We won! Then God painted the most beautiful sunset. I will win prizes for my photos. My art experience led me to a windmill w/ a shack w/ a drum set. I set it up and played. Then I played pool with Chris –-vs- Tim and Brian. We won! We went in and had dinner. After dinner TJ & Me mayonnaise. Then we had a bush dance. The lady could really wail on the accordion. We did a lot of line dancing stuff. Jessica pinched my L nipple really hard. It started to bleed. After the dance we went to bed. American Justice on Greg. Sargent Bilco. Electric blankets. Do you like scary movies. Quote to sum it up: “ If my balls itch when I come out, you Die. If they don’t, then Ill just mildly beat the F*#k out of you.”
Day 8 7/15/98