Mount Gambier, Blue Mountain and Adelaide in March of 2015

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  • April 01, 2015 7:43 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    April 1
    Although our official trip was over yesterday, many have stayed on in Melbourne to enjoy the many sights and the beautiful warm weather. Our hotel could not have been more centrally located. Just a few steps from the door is a restaurant alley with 10-12 establishments, most with outside tables and chairs. It is a very lively place most of the day and into the evening.
    Reflecting back on our time in Australia, we have experienced a variety of weather. We started our first exchange in a wind and rain storm and arrived in Melbourne on a balmy, still, autumn day. While acknowledging the weather for proper clothing, it certainly did not hamper our activity.
    I find it really difficult to single out the best experiences, as so many were memorable. As always, the time spent with the members of the host clubs was the most rewarding. In the Blue Mountains the spectacular scenery was the star attraction. Every day's activity was an outdoor adventure for the most part.
    Our short time in Adelaide was only enough to give our ambassadors a taste of all the delights the city has to offer.
    The Blue Lake and the surrounding volcanic geology stood out in Mount Gambier. For an area with seemingly not much to offer, we were pleasantly surprised by these "country folk." The mayor's reception and media coverage greatly contributed to our enjoyment of the visit.
    While we had our physical ailments during the trip, requiring 3 emergency room visits and a doctor visit, most were able to fully participate in each day's activities. Precautionary measures contained a cold bug to 2 members. The host EDs did not fare so well. Geoff in the Blue Mountains suffered an attack of salmonella, sidelining him for a couple of days; and Doreen in Mount Gambier was hospitalised throughout our visit.
    Once again we ate our way through the exchanges with brekkie and lunch, and morning, afternoon and evening tea. We learned a whole other English language. Helen's lively word games and creative song writing, with our singing, along with Richard's observations, regaled both clubs at our farewell evenings. Many enjoyed our rambunctious behaviour, I reckon.

    Overall it was a great experience.

  • March 31, 2015 10:45 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Many of our group are departing today, Patty & Sheila early this morning, others staying on an extra 1-3 days in Melbourne. This city has so much to do and see. Helen & Pat did a self tour of St. Paul's Cathedral, a Gothic Church that will remind you of a Harry Potter movie.  We also visited the Immigration Museum, a wonderful museum, that explores Australian history and current  efforts of inclusiveness. We still have 2 more days here for the  Botanical Gardens, Old Melbourne Goal, Lane Art that includes decorative  walls and dumpsters don't call it graffiti. Pat M

  • March 30, 2015 11:17 AM | Anonymous member

    We began our journey at 6:30 a.m. for the final day on The Great Ocean Road.  First stopped at Maits Rest for a walk on the Rainforest Boardwalk where we saw tall fern trees, some hundreds of years old.  Next stopped at the Kennett River Car Park where our guide, Flick, gave some of us sunflower seeds to attract birds to eat out of our hands.  Soon a Lorakeet landed on her hand, then a King Parrot landed in the hands of P.J., Sheila and me!  Also saw some koalas in the trees.  We didn't want to leave, but had to get on our way.  Had a brief photo stop at The Great Ocean Road Memorial Arch to honor the WWI returned soldiers who virtually carved their way through the mountains with picks and shovels to create this road.  Road construction delayed us a bit for the final stretch to Melbourne which caused a bit of angst for 12 of us who were scheduled for  the Little Penguin tour on Phillip Island leaving at 3:00 p.m.  We made it with minutes to spare and had a great time seeing the world's smallest penguins make their way to shore to return to their burrows.  Our bus driver first toured the island where we saw numerous swamp wallabies and Cape Barren geese.  He also clued us on the following terms:  garbo = garbage men; servo = service station; ambo = ambulance; brekki = breakfast; McDonalds = Macker (so, brekki at Macker = breakfast at McDonalds) and eski = Eskimo cooler.  Great memories of great beaches along beautiful blue water and, of course, the gorgeous birds. 

  • March 29, 2015 2:54 PM | Anonymous member

    Sapphire seas, turquoise surf, monoliths rising in the distance, stunning vistas AND the weather "fined up". All this was capped with pizza dinner and champagne toasts to the Twelelve Apostles. Not a day these 18 ambassadors will soon forget.

  • March 28, 2015 10:00 PM | Anonymous member

    Today, Saturday, we met at the Lady Nelson Ctr. to say a warm goodbye to our terrific Mt. Gambier hosts and new friends. We then boarded the Truely Tribal bus for our 3 day tour of the Great Ocean Road.  Our driver, Flick, loaded our luggage in the trailer, and also brought a box of apples, pears and mandies (mandarins) for snacks for us. She gave us some background on Truely Tribal Tours which she owns with a partner, and also narrated about some of the countryside as she drove. 

    We stopped at Cape Bridgewater to see the seal colony.  We hiked down a bluff to the dock where Daniel was ready with life jackets for us. We went in 2 groups into his red zodiac boat and had a fast, bumpy ride hitting the swells of the Southern Ocean but stayed fairly close to the cliffs. We saw Australian and New Zealand seals swimming, playing and showing off for us. 

    When both groups had hiked back up the cliff, Flick provided a picnic lunch for us.Then off to Tower Hill Conservation area where we walked around in this protected area to see koala's, emu's and later an echidna beside the road. On to Warnambool, to our very nice motel. We got settled in, then we walked to the Saltwater Bistro for a terrific dinner at the RSL (Retired Servicemens League).  After that we went to an outdoor show which depicted a shipwreck. It was a nice day full of different views and experiences.


  • March 27, 2015 2:00 PM | Anonymous member

    Friday, March 27 was our free day in Mt. Gambier. Ray, Larry, Susan, and I spent the day together with Ross and Karen McGregor, our hosts. We started the day with the very informative Lady Nelson museum. It was 10 am when we got into the car and when we turned on the radio, we heard Marty being interviewed! She and the Mt. Gambier ED Lynn were chatting with the local ABC radio person. ABC is Australian Broadcasting Corp. and is equivalent to our NPR. Marty was very good, both interesting and composed. Good job Marty! Then we drove a short distance to the Umpherston Sinkhole which is a deep open limestone cave which has had a beautiful garden planted in it, with the sides and bottom covered in cascading greenery and a small park in the center. Then, after watching the city's video about volcanoes, which was really well done, we all went out to the Coonawarra wine region for some very enjoyable wine tasting at Wynn's vineyards. We came home via Penola and walked through the very old original cottages on Petticoat Lane. We learned about one family, the Sharans, who built and lived in them, raising 15 children there. We ended the day with all of our friends at the farewell dinner.  We learned that many of us went to see the tree carvings that day.  The food was great, we entertained them and had lots of fun, but it was very hard to say good bye after a wonderful week with the Mount Gambier FF club.

  • March 26, 2015 9:10 PM | Anonymous member

    The day was cold and windy with periods of sunshine and rain showers. We travelled about 50 km (32 mi) by multi-car caravan to the city of Penola information center and local museum, at the Coonawara wine district (considered the NEW best red wine region of South Australia -- confirmed later at dinner with a Majella cabernet/shiraz "The Musician", shared with our delightful hosts). The day was filled with visiting a private Tractor Museum, the city Train Station museum, and art galleries: a "lino" print artist, a glass artist, and well-known family of painters. We were provided with a beautiful luncheon at the Fire Brigade Station by the women's auxiliary. The evening was left open and many members took their hosts to dinner.

  • March 25, 2015 11:48 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    We woke up this morning to our pictures in the local newspaper, The Border Watch. Friendship Force received a full page of our activities, the mayoral reception and some history of Friendship Force.  Bob and Marty actually made the front page too from a photo op earlier planting the Golden Celebration Rose in the Friendship Force Garden. 

    A cruise up and down the Glenelg River was the mornings activity.  We cruised from South Australia into Victoria back and forth.  The Captain of the boat provided us with a narrative of the history of the river, some interesting statistics and described the "shacks" along the river and the rules governing their usage, which does differ some between the two States.  They stay within families and must be removed when the last person within a family "moves on".  Families generally can not live in these for any length of time, but certainly can enjoy the fishing and comradeship that goes along with a waters edge view.  The boat owners provided us with a lovely lunch, tea and desserts, of course!

    We were then free to tour on our own with our hosts and sightsee the area.  Of particular interest was Piccaninnie Ponds where the water bubbles up from underground continually and eventually flows into the sea.  The sand is fine and extremely soft - Nothing like any of ours at home. We then continued on to Port McDonnell for a lovely dinner at our hosts beach home.  There are not enough words to describe this unusual, creative and magnificent home.  We dined on a glass table top that had been placed on top of a 20 foot sail boat in the middle of the room.  This boat had been sailed competitively by their son and was now no longer sea worthy.  The chairs around it made the entire scene look like the railing around the boat.  The table seats easily 18 and more could be added.  The dinner of course was superb as our hostess is an excellent chef!  Gail and Dick Bird and their hosts joined us and provided the entrĂ©e of Cray fish, (lobster) as a special treat.  The entire meal was thoroughly enjoyed by all.  A wonderful evening.

    (Written by Bob Ghiglieri's personal Executive Secretary)

  • March 25, 2015 3:30 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    We started the day at the Tantanoola Caves, which are situated halfway between Millicent and Mount Gambier.  Although much smaller than the Jenolan Caves in the Blue Mountains, the cavern is quite large and has a beautiful array of stalactites, stalagmites, columns and shawls.  These are all formed from mineralised pink and brown limestone called dolomite, quite awe-inspiring.

    Our next stop was in the town of Millicent at its museum.  We were given a printed layout of the living history museum to guide our way through on our own.  The exhibits included a locomotive, many wagons and horse drawn vehicles of the period (mid 1800s mostly) and the implements used at the time.  A Maritime Room described many shipwrecks of the era, especially the "Geltwood", wrecked in 1876 with artifacts found as late as the 1980s along the beaches. The Helen Hughes clothing collection showed how fashions changed through the decades of the 1800s and 1900s, very interesting.

    After a somewhat wet and cold, but welcome, outdoor picnic provided by our hosts, we were on our own with our individual hosts to drive on for some sightseeing.  Patty and I with our hostess Leonie, drove through the pretty town of Southend and on th Bridgeport.  After a coffee at a local cafe, we enjoyed watching the waves, gulls and boats floating on the sea.

    Then we returned home to Leonie's farmhouse, where she had to feed her "crooks" (chickens).  Later we to Leonie to dinner at the Western Tavern where the food was excellent, including the home-cooked vegetables.

    Sheila Bruton

    (Helen, Linda, Ken and I went 4-wheeling with the Mellor's hosts to Lake George.  Quite an experience!  We saw hundreds of black swans where the fresh water comes bubbling up into the coastal lake.  At times the shoreline was totally black with their bodies.  -Marty)

  • March 23, 2015 4:51 AM | Anonymous member
    This afternoon we were officially welcomed to South Australia's second largest city. Mayor Andrew Lee helped plant a rose in the Friendship Force Garden to commemorate our visit. The mayor, in his fur trimmed red robe joined our ED, Marty McKnew in some comments about our respective cities. We then took a seriesof photos with the mayor in the council chambers. Afternoon tea capped the event. Earlier in the day we toured Blue Lake, famous for its vibrant color and its location in the crater of a volcano. It is also the source of the area's drinking water. Our visit also included a beautiful older building that contained modern equipment to monitor and pump the water.
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