Finally arrived in Brisbane. Flight out of LAX delayed 1.5 hours cos engine
wouldn't start. At any rate we left around midnight. I slept pretty well for
about 9 hours, I don't even remember taking off.
Bisbane is very pretty. Our hotel is right on the river and our room is on
the eighteenth floor looking straight down the river with the central business
district on our right and Kangaroo Point on the left (the other side of the
river). You may recognize Kangaroo Point as the location of the new temple
here. In fact, we can see the Angel Moroni and the top of the temple from
We just showered and we are going to go tour around a little. Probably stop
by the temple and see whats up. We have tickets for the open house tour tomorrow
Met lots of Rotarians in the airports and on the planes. So far, it has been
a lot of fun. Not even any big problem adjusting to the left side driving.
Ok, we (I) made a couple of wrong turns on the way to the hotel, but, they
were easily corrected with a few appropriately timed u-turns.
It is cloudy and a bit drizzly outside and pretty cool. We may just have to
go buy some warmer clothes (so says Sherrie anyway.)
We haven't made any special plans to see anything particular. Maybe drive
up to the Gold Coast on Saturday. Tomorrow we go to the convention center
(or is it centre) to register.
I'll try to check in each day and give you an update on our activities. It
costs $2 Australian for each 10 minutes on the computer here so I have to
type fast. I may stop correcting my mistakes just to save time.
Jennie, will you send this email around to the other kids. Mom, feel free
to send it around to your kids . I have an email list I use on my computer
at home but I haven't set one up on my Yahoo mail account yet. If I can afford
it, I'll set one up tonight.
Its 2:20 p.m. and my money is running out so, G'day and we'll check in later.
5-29 part 2
Just returned from a stroll to the Queen Street Mall. After we showered and
cleaned up, we drove over to the new temple to check it out. Since there weren't
many visitors at the time (it was about 3:00 p.m.), we decided to take the
The Brisbane Temple is one of the small temples and has a small ward building
immediately adjacent to it. The two buildings are built on the site of the
former Brisbane Stake center (which is to be rebuilt somewhere else). There
is limited street parking around the temple but there is a fair amount of
parking underneath the buildings.
The layout is almost identical to the Palmyra Temple. Visited with the mission
president's wife for a few minutes afterward. Then we walked across the street
and took some pictures and video back up the river toward our hotel. Very
Then we drove to the "Southland Park", I think is the name (site
of "Expo 88", apparently), which is where the convention center
is. Walked around a bit, but everything was closed (it was only about 5:00!!!)
Headed back to the hotel via downtown, traffic a bit busy but not bad.
Sherrie decided to crash so I headed down to the mall for a "Hungry Jack"
My time is running out. Bye,
Just arrived back in Brisbane from our trip to
the mountains and the coast. Yesterday morning (Friday) we went downstairs
to head to the convention center to register for the convention. While we
were standing talking to the concierge about how to take the river taxi, the
couple behind us said, "why don't you ride with us, we've got a limo
and we're headed over there ourselves." So, we rode in a limo to the
convention center. Got all registered, bought tix for the football (rugby)
game and for the "Australian Experience", and then headed to South
Bank to catch a "City Cat" (small catamaran ferry) back to the hotel.
Picked up the car and headed north to Noosa's Head. On the way we stopped
at the Australian Zoo (Steve Irwin's zoo - you know, the Crocodile Hunter
guy) and saw koalas, dingos, galapagos turtles, crocs and allis, camels, etc.,
and walked among and petted kangaroos. Watched a crocodile demo and then headed
to the little towns of Malaney and Montville which are artsy kinds of towns
on a ridgeback running way above the valleys on both sides. very beautiful
drive. Then we headed to Noosa on the Coral Sea. Got there after dark so we
rented a room and stayed overnight. Most places there are not traditional
one-room motel rooms but are set up for longer term vacaioners. So we hauled
the mattress out of the bedroom and put it on the hide-a-bed so we could watch
tv. It slanted a little bit from top to bottom, but worked out fine.
Spent some time watching the surfers this morning and then drove south along
the coast and back into Brisbane.
We're headed to the convention center, actually the South Bank where there
are lots of things going on all afternoon. then this evening we are going
to the football game. Hopefully, it will stay clear. We were rained on quite
a bit on the ride home this morning.
Sherrie's a bit worried about the weather tonight. but i imagine it is going
to be fine. If it doesn't cloud up and rain, it should be very nice.
Tell Josh that we bought some Tim Tams yesterday. Pretty good. Maybe some
will even make it home. We drove through the Glass House Mountain Range yesterday
which has some pretty weird mountains.
Well only 53 seconds left so I have to sign off and send.
May 31 part 2
Received your email. Should be someone home unless you arrive between 2 and
5 during church. If you call they should leave a door open for you.
We just got back from the Australian Football league game between the Brisbane
Lions and the Melbourne Demons. Brisbane was winning big when we left. I've
watched Australian Football on TV and wasn't too interested but it is way
more interesting in person. I think I like rugby style better.
We spent the afternoon at South Bank watching entertainment, dances, etc.,
all in all not too spectacular. By shows I mean South Pacific singers, etc.,
none of whom could hold a candle to the PCC kids in Hawaii. But it was lots
of Rotarian hospitality so its all good.
Tomorrow we're going to church with the Penningtons and then to dinner at
their place. Then we go to the opening session of the convention at 7:30 p.m.
The weather has really been nice to us; raining only when we are somewhere
where we won't get wet and holding off during the times when we are outside.
We were concerned it would be cold for tonight but it was delightful and I
didn't need my Polartec until the third quarter.
We had walked to the "Gabba" stadium from SouthBank (about 15 minutes)
having taken a City Cat to South Bank. We left during the 4th quarter and
as we walked out of the stadium a cab came by so we hailed it and in about
5 minutes we were back at the hotel. The cabbies here have been really friendly.
In fact, just about everybody is pretty friendly. (I guess they love those
Well, I'm off to bed. Seems like we pack a lot into everyday. We're sure that
time passes slower here.
Well, it took me until 9:30 a.m. to get Sherrie out of bed this morning. Half
way around the world and all she wants to do is sleep. We finally headed out
to Camp Hill to attend church with the Penningtons. Way early so we drove
around a little bit and checked out the homes. Stopped by the temple on the
way over. Gorgeous day although it clouded up a bit later on in the day.
Went to church at the Camp Hill ward. John and Marie Pennington are very gracious.
He was just recently released as the bishop of the ward after 6 years. They
have 6 kids. One of their daughters served a mission in the Sydney North mission
at the same time Josh did. She later married one of Josh's companions. One
of her younger brothers also served in the Sydney North mission.
Very interesting Queenslander home, we took a few pictures that we will bring
home, video and digital. We aren't taking a lot of pictures this time.
After dinner, we headed to the convention center for the opening plenary session.
Very entertaining, with a march of national flags, a la the Olympic opening
ceremonies. Speeches, dancing, music, it was very entertaining. Plus we sat
in the front row!! How did we manage that? Don't rightly know, we sent into
the Great Hall about a half hour early and the sargeant at arms said to go
ahead and sit on the front row (even though they had signs saying reserved
for "Host Committee". They probably attented earlier anyway. So
far, we seem to have had a charmed trip. Well, I've decided its charmed no
matter what happens. Its all good. Everyone had been super friendly and we
are really enjoying ourselves. We even met Bichai Rattakul, the current RI
President and go my picture taken with him as we were waiting for the plenary
session to start.
We haven't decided whether we are going to go to the Gold Coast tomorrow or
to the convention. Maybe we'll go to the Gold Coast on Thursday, since the
sessions are over by then anyway.
Sherrie refuses (or, as I have accused her, is unable to) to read the maps,
so she has been doing most of the driving and I just tell her where to go.
What I like to do anyway, I suppose. So far, we haven't had any major missteps
or become lost or even gone way out of our way. We've had to turn around a
few times, but, oh well.
Doesn't seem like we did much today, just church and the opening session.
I did get "credentialed" this evening, so I am an official "voting
delegate" with an official blue button. About all it means is that on
Wednesday I get a reserved seat for the session where we vote on next year's
Our phones don't work over here! Maybe there is some sort of frequency we
have to be on. Maybe some one can check the ATT website and see whats up.
We have to use a converter to recharge our phones (for what reason I don't
know), the video camera, and my Palm Pilot. I recharged the video camera last
night. Then when I plugged in the PDA plug, I heard a pop and smoke started
coming from the plug. I pulled it out quick. Hope everything is ok with my
PDA unit. I didn't have it installed on the recharger but it may have blown
the recharger. I took the old one back to the desk and picked up a new one
tonight. I am recharging one of the digital camera batteries right now. We'll
see how it goes. I don't want to ruin any of my "stuff", but they
have to be recharged.
Well, talk to you later. I check my email everyday so you can contact me if
you need to.
We just arrived at the hotel and are resting up a bit before our river cruise
on the "Kookaburra Queen" on the Brisbane River. It is a dinner
cruise so I'll save this as a draft and fill you in on the details later.
We took off around 8:15 this morning for the Gold Coast. Somehow I expected
something very different. It is nothing but high rise condos, apartments,
hotels, etc., all up and down the coast for about 20 miles. Must be a premier
vacation spot for Asians because lots of signs in Chinese/Japanese, etc. Beautiful
beaches and lots of surfers, so I can understand the attraction. We ate breakfast
at a sidewalk cafe and then walked down by the beach for a while.
We headed back to Brisbane so I could catch one of the afternoon sessions
for incoming club presidents. The room was huge, and completely full. Pretty
interesting presentation. People from all over the world there.
Spent some time browsing in the "House of Friendship" and exhibitor
booths and then headed back to the hotel to rest up for the cruise. We'll
probably spend most of the next two days at the convention. Thursday is a
free day and we are trying to figure out a good day trip.
We stopped at a "Coles" supermarket on the way back from the Gold
Coast and stocked up on Tim Tams to bring home. (The Penningtons yesterday
gave us a "tin" of Milo to bring back. They asked if we liked "Veg-a-mite"
but we politely (but firmly) declined.
Hope everything is going ok. Check with you later.
Just back from the "cruise". Beautiful night, food was average Australian
food (in other words, nothing to write home about.) Lights of the city are
pretty and we cruised up and back a couple of times. The top thrid of the
temple is easily visible from the river and will soon become a landmark I
think. Bus tours stop right across the street to see the views of down town.
But, enough was enough, we were ready to jump ship by the time we returned.
On the boat at 7:15 and off at 10:45!!!
Tomorrow will be convention most of the day.
Just came in out of the rain and it is around 10:15 p.m. Read your email.
No, no plans right now for lunch, probably ought to do something fun, either
for lunch or dinner. I'll chat with Sherrie and get back to you.
Took the bus from the hotel this morning over to the convention center and
attended the plenary session. Lots of good talk about polio eradication which
is Rotary's major worldwide project. Worldwide we've raised over $88 million
this past year. Goal is eradication worldwide by 2005, Rotary's centennial
celebration. 99 percent there since Rotary partnered up with W.H.O, and CDC.
Lots of interesting people at the convention. We've talked to people from
Nigeria, Scotland, England; not too many native costumes are in evidence,
mostly Africans, Indians, etc.
Had some mediocre fish and chips at the convention center for lunch and spent
some time wandering the exhibits. Then we headed back across the footbridge
to the Botanical Park and walked back to the hotel. rested for a couple of
hours and then headed to the RNA Exhibition Grounds for the grand Australian
Lots of fun stuff, aborigine dances, didgeridoos, snakes, sheep shearing,
whip cracking, dog herding sheep, Australian cowboy poetry, bucking horse
riding, "Holden" car driving stunts (which was really good), and,
for good measure, rain. But since they are in a drought down here, we aren't
complaining. The rain held off until the fireworks were over, actually it
drizzeled on and off through most of the program but it didn't really stop
anything. Just as we were leaving it really opening up. In fact, there were
some pretty good lightning flashes during the fireworks. Rained so hard that
we missed the turn on the way home and though we would be lost forever because
it was raining so hard we couldn't see anything. But, as this trip is charmed,
we just kept going a couple of blocks more and we found the street we needed
and, voila', we were home in about 5 minutes. Course we were soaked from the
walk (run) to the car from the grandstands. The streets down town are named
for the kings and queens, queens run north and south, and kings run east and
west. We found a king street and just stayed on it until we found the queen
street (Elizabeth) that we needed. Turns out we got back to the hotel as fast
as, or maybe a bit faster, than if we had gone the way we had planned.
We've got the driving thing down pat. Sherrie drives and I tell her where
to go. Works fine, course we miss lots of turns because you can't tell what
street you are on because the signs are not always how we expect them. Plus
the streets are helter skelter, not right angles every time. It has been fun.
Well, I'm headed to bed. We are going to a 7:30 a.m. meeting tomorrow morning.
It is the "Fellowship of Rotarian Scouters" (there are all kinds
of different fellowships (RV'rs, fishing, music, stamps, etc., etc., etc.)
We are anxious to see everyone and hope you are enjoying yourselves. Watch
the kids around the pool, ok?
Up early so we could get to a 7:30 a.m. "International Fellowship of
Scouting Rotarians" meeting. Interesting group...I signed up for a year
($25) to see what it is that they do.
The opening plenary session was a "business" session and was a lot
of fun. Since I am a "voting delegate", we got reserved seating
(us and about 3000 others), but it was pretty close to the front. Fun watching
the "changing of the guard". Next year's president is a fellow named
Jonathan Majiyagbe and is from the state of Kano, Nigeria. He will be the
first Rotary International president from the continent of Africa. His family
was there, with nieces, etc., all in traditional African dress. Very colorful.
The current president is from Thailand. He gave a nice speech.
Next year's convention is in Osaka, Japan, and there was a presentation from
the Osaka Convention Committee.
Each session includes entertainment features before during and at the end
of each session. Lots of dancing, singing, etc. All very entertaining. There
are also speeches from people who are doing great things around the world
(like the heart surgeon from Australia who is training surgeons in East Timor,
Vietnam, etc.; and the young lady who is building a school in Tanzania...)
After the morning session we headed over to the South Bank for lunch and then
we wandered the convention exhibits until the "Closing Feature"
(the last general session) at 4:00 p.m. There are so many people at the convention
that they have two seatings for the closing session. The house was packed
and the lines were huge. But, once again, we sort of lucked into a good seat
ride in the middle of the house and fairly close to the front. Friendly people
on both sides of us again; from Denmark, Salem, Mass., Australia. The obligatory
thank you's and presentations of plaques and a speech from the outgoing president.
Very interesting. The closing entertainment was a huge choral group of young
ladies; then some "sky walker" aerialists, then an orchestra and
Broadway-style entertainment from a singer by the name of Caroline O'Conner
who is a local star who has apparently appeared on Broadway. Very good and
a lot of fun.
The entire conference has really been a great experience. Everyone has been
super friendly and everyone talks to one another. you really get a good idea
of the magnitude of Rotary and the good things that are going on all around
the world. Everytime we have sat down, we have struck up conversations with
After we left the convention (and the obligatory pin purchases, etc.), we
drove over to the temple (it is only about 5 minutes away-less than a mile),
and took another tour. People in line started talking to us and as we were
leaving they invited us to dinner at their home. We declined since we were
exhausted (I hope we didn't offend them-I worry about stuff like that) and
wanted to get back to the room and rest a bit (by then it was around 8:00p.m.
This week is the last week of the open house, then the temple will be closed
while it is cleaned and prepared for the dedication. Lots of people at the
open house. Our guide was a member of the Brisbane Stake Presidency named
Craig Owen (he was at the Camp Hill ward on Sunday and I had talked to him
there). Wonderful spirit at the temple, I really didn't want to leave. You
want to just kind of hang around and enjoy the feeling. Everyone is excited
to have the temple. I noticed tonight that they have lots of "temple
symbols" (circle inside of a square) on the balustrades in one of the
rooms and then around the eaves of the temple and then all along the fences
around the temple. The creation room has murals on the side and rear walls;
one of the Maleny area where we went last Friday, one of the Glass House Mt.
Range, which we also saw on Friday, and one of the Sunshine Coast (Noosa Heads
area) which we also saw. The murals had kangaroos, and koalas (well, only
one), that you had to look closely to see.
We still haven't planned tomorrow. I guess we'll worry about that in the morning.
The weather was a little cloudy today, but since we were inside most of the
day it didn't matter too much.
There are 31,000 Rotary clubs around the world and there were about 3900 represented
at the convention. I haven't heard what the attendance was; around 20,000,
Well, I'll sign off for now.
Love, Dad (Keith, Elder Thomas, Bishop Thomas, Brother Thomas...I guess it
depends on who is reading this email.)
Well, our trip is almost at an end. We had a leisurely
day with really nothing pressing to do. We left the hotel around 9:30 and
drove up to Mt. Coot-tha which is only about 15 minutes from the downtown
area. It is the highest point around and has a beautiful view of the city
and the Brisbane River.
We ate breakfast at the little cafe there and spent an hour or so looking
at the sights and enjoying the sunshine. It had been foggy until about 7:30
but it lifted and it has been a beautiful sunny day. We drove around the Mt.
Coot-tha loop (about a mile or so) and then drove to a suburb called Keperra
which is west of the downtown area. There we visited Stan and Mavis Gill (friends
of the Rempp's in Yerington, Nevada-the Rempp's do all the apartment inspections
in Fallon and Winnemucca stakes-they were missionaries here in Brisbane and
worked with the Gills) for a couple of hours and then headed downtown.
We wandered through the Eagle Street Mall (in the central business district
where they have closed off a street for a couple of blocks and turned it into
a giant mall promenade. We visited the local casino to see what it was like-it
is in the old government treasury building-same old smoky environment, although
the slots are very different, they call them "Pokies" and they have
multi-line video screens. We only stayed about 5 minutes and then wandered
the mall for a while.
We rested a bit and then headed to the Carindale Mall. It was packed. We were
going to go to a movie but there wasn't anything interesting so we just wandered
a bit and then had something to eat. The mall is really big and has grocery
shopping, meat stores, drug stores, in addition to the regular type shopping.
And it was packed. There were people all over the place, particularly in the
food court area.
It took a few minutes to find our car in the parking lot (we came out on the
wrong level, something we didn't figure out for about 10 minutes) - it was
just like the Seinfeld episode. Good thing we found it, our passports, plane
tickets, video camera, etc., were all in the car.
We're getting pretty good at getting around the Brisbane. The city is really
very pretty. Lots and lots of hills and greenery. Apparently they are just
coming off a fairly long drought and the recent rains have really greened
Well, I'm going to go get packed. You have the schedule for the return flight
on the cupboard. We will call once we hit Los Angeles and let you know how
we are doing.
We are looking forward to getting home and getting back into the swing of
We're on our way to the airport. It is a beautiful day outside. Hope the rest
of the day goes well. We'll call you when we arrive at LAX.