Monday, April 14, 2008

Bridge Climb

On Monday we reached the climax of our trip with the Sydney bridge climb. We started the day with moderate rain as we went into the city. We were scheduled for 8:15am. The program starts with fitting everyone with a weather resistant outfit and safety equipment. We also each had a radio, parkas, safety tether, and even a handkerchief tied to our wrist. We then had an orientation and practice on how we would attach ourselves safely to the bridge and make the climb. We were expecting potentially nasty weather but as we headed out to the bridge, the skies cleared and the rain stopped. Mina was quite concerned with her fear of heights but she kept going and finished the experience very well.

The views were phenomenal! The climb wasn’t overly taxing and was quite enjoyable. Our guide Ronan did a great job of keeping everyone going and pointing out all the sights of the Sydney harbor and the city itself. We could see all the way out to the Blue Mountains.

After the climb, we were met by Helen and Carole from the Concord club. They went with us and bought us lunch before heading to the Sydney opera house tour. As we were meeting for the tour, Pete recognized the voice of the tour guide who was his tour guide for a travel tour in Italy last year.

The story of the Sydney Opera House is pretty amazing. The architect whose design was selected had to overcome tremendous difficulties in structural design to build this iconic structure. The initial plan was $7million but it went over 100 million and many years. The architect had to resign before he could finish the project due to all the cost overruns and problems.

Monday finished with our GSE farewell dinner at the Strathfield country club. Members of the Strathfield and Concord Rotary Clubs heard our presentation along with many photos of our experience here. Many of our friends from the district were there for one more goodbye. Several people are planning to visit various members of the team in the states.

Tuesday morning we had our final scheduled event which was are debriefing with Paul Erickson and Ivan Fedor. We were able to offer a few suggestions to fine tune the program but it is hard to improve something that is run this well.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


On Friday we packed up and traveled to Mudgee. I rode with 2 Rotarians, Peter Reynolds and Michael.Fisher. We stopped at an overlook over the Capertee valley. Someone said it was the largest valley 2nd to the Grand Canyon. It is supposed to be the largest living (with vegetation) valley. It was a beautiful view.

I stayed with Mark and Dianne Young in Mudgee. Mark is a principal at the school whose choir was performing Saturday morning. He also played at the service Sunday morning. They were excellent hosts and I really enjoyed my time with them.

The conference in Mudgee was great. It started with a “meet the growers” event where the local wine producers and some food producers showed up for a social wine tasting event. The Rotary district had over 500 people at the conference. We able to reunite with many of our previous hosts and friends from other clubs we had previously visited. It was great to spend time with them again. Friday night had a western theme (western Australia with a mix of our old west). There was some dancing, a folk comedian and a good dinner. Saturday morning we gave our presentation along with other speakers.

The evening was a Carnivale affair with almost everyone getting at least somewhat into colorful costumes. I was able to borrow a shirt from my host with pink birds and such. The outgoing GSE team got us some plumed hats and such. It was a great event with many young jugglers, stiltwalkers, dancers, etc. This was followed by a large jazz band with vocalists providing the entertainment late into the evening. The dance floor was packed for much of the night. The Rotarian group certainly needs to be complemented for a great event as well as having so many participate in the activities. Sunday morning we heard more speakers before heading back home with our hosts. I finished a great weekend with dinner at a Thai restaurant with my hosts Mike and Margaret Smith which was great.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Quick update

The team hasn't had much time for blog updates this past week. Some of have had minimal access to the Internet too. We have been very busy and having many wonderful experiences. We had a great day at the Featherdale Wildlife Farm with the Blacktown club along with a mayoral reception which was very nice. We joined the Liverpool area clubs on the 29th and had a great welcome barbeque at Joe and Helen Cauchi's house. The following day we had a cruise on the Georges River and Botany Bay. Lunch at the Boat Shed at the entrance to the bay. I also had a little birthday celebration which will go down as one of my most memorable. It was a georgeous day.

Monday and Tuesday we toured sites in the Liverpool area. Tuesday included the Crown Lodge Stable which was just sold for $500,000,000. Wednesday was a vocational day. Yesterday we went to the Taronga zoo and did a pub tour of the Rocks area which is a historical area. We are now ready to leave for a 4 hour trip to the district conference in Mudgee which will last through Sunday.

This update doesn't come close to describing our experiences the last few days but it explains why we haven't been able to keep up on our blog. We will try to do better next week.