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 our room.

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 afternoon.

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.

Love, Dad

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 tour.

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 pretty sight.

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" Whopper.

My time is running out. Bye,
Love, Dad

May 31

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

Hi Jennie,

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 tourist dollars.)

Well, I'm off to bed. Seems like we pack a lot into everyday. We're sure that time passes slower here.


June 1


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 officers, etc.

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.

Love, Dad

June 2

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.




June 3


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 Spectacular.

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?


June 4


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 people.

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, I think.

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.)

June 5

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 everything up.

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 things.



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.

Love, Dad



May 27 to June 5, 2003

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