Monday, March 17, 2008

A day in Penrith

Today started out as they all have here in Australia.....just beautiful. The weather again cooperated for us and continues to remind us of how lucky we are. It was St. Patrick's day here in Australia. No lepracons, but Albert and Bryan from the Penrith club took us out and around the Penrith Lakes project. We stopped at the oldest church and school in New South Wales and got some lovely photos. Next stop was the Olympic kayak center where we raced to the top of the medal stand and waved to our adoring crowd of Steve, Albert, and Bryan. I think they thought the team a bit crazy, but come on.....who hasn't dreamed of standing atop the Olympic stand with your national anthem playing proudly.

The 5000 acre area is an active quarry for stone and sand used in the local building industry when mixed into cement. In another 5 years or so the project will come to completion and the rehabilitation will begin in earnest creating many lakes and a beautiful recreation area for the greater Sydney area. Quite an interesting project really. We got a birds eye view from a look out just into the blue mountain national forest. These mountains and valleys are just gorgeous.

The ride to our next destination, the fire museum, was quite interesting. Steve and I rode with Albert and gave us a good history lesson on Australia's role in World War II. We often focus on just our own involvement and emphasize the European Theater. The U.S. had over 1 million troops stationed in Australia during the war and used it as a staging area for many of its operations in the south Pacific. The Japanese were very interested in invading Australia and were present in this area. Just last year a Japanese submarine was discovered in Sydney harbor. The harbor area sustained damage from subs during the war and perhaps more interesting to us was what happened in Darwin. The Japanese bombed mainland Australia in Darwin and did significant damage. This information was suppressed and covered up for over 40 years to the general populace so as not to create a panic.

Another interesting tid bit I heard on the radio this morning is that the Battleship Sydney was just discovered off the cost of Perth following the discovery of the German ship it sank in sea battle there. There were no survivors of the 645 crew members aboard the Sydney although many Germans did survive the battle. Little is know about the battle and it is hoped the wreckage may provide some insight.

The fire museum was also very interesting. The Penrith Rotary has done much for the museum over the years and they were only to happy to give us the Queen's tour. Sean, our tour guide, did an outstanding job and gave it a very personal touch. We certainly appreciated his efforts. I found in most interesting that amount their many restored trucks and pieces of equipment was an 1891 Dennis steamer. They have a photo of it in the first centennial parade back in 1901 and isn't it amazing it was able to participate 100 years late in the bicentennial parade in 2001. Certainly a testament to how well fire fighters take care of their equipment.

After lunch at Albert's we all headed to the mall to shop a bit and headed home with our host families. We had dinner at the top of the hill grill that had a correspondingly great view of Sydney at night. Keith and Marilyn have hosted many GSE members and exchange students over the years and we had a lively conversation about that.

Tomorrow we head to our vocational visits and what should be a great day. Stay tuned and Stay Classy San Diego.

1 comment:

Kate said...

"I can think of no more stirring symbol of man's humanity to man than a fire engine." - Kurt Vonnegut