Saturday, July 15, 2006


We departed the Sydney airport a little after 11 AM this morning for the 13 hour flight to Los Angeles. By crossing the International Date Line, we actually landed in Los Angeles at 7 AM before we took off in Sydney at 11 AM on the same day. I then had a flight to Chicago and then one to Indianapolis to complete my travel for this trip. It was a very long day and an emotional one because of the many good-byes. I depart for New York City early tomorrow morning for a different trip, so my time at home tonight will be short lived. Below is a picture of some of us Fulbrighters in the Sydney airport awaiting our departure.

To any newcomers to this blog: Please start reading at the bottom so you can go in chronological order. This blog was created to be daily communication with my students, family, colleagues, and friends, but now that my trip is over, it will remain up, unchanged, so that any interested parties can read it. Email me directly at or with any questions or comments. Thank you.

Farewell Dinner at the American Club

We had the afternoon free as well today, and I spent it getting caught-up on work such as burning CDs, writing evaluations, and updating this blog. Later in the evening we had the Farewell Dinner at the American Club here in Sydney. The very swanky club was in a beautiful building overlooking Sydney, with a view of the Opera House. It was one of the more high class dinners that we had during the trip, which is saying a lot. It did make for a wonderful send-off for the group, and offered a chance to say thank you to Jo and to Ted. The group is pictured at the American Club below. Below that is a picture of Lynn, Mary Ellen, Andy, and me.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Sydney Aquarium

Today it has really begun to set-in that the trip is almost over and I must admit that I am sad about it. We began the day with breakfast and then a debrief session on the trip. After that the day was ours, and I decided to spend the morning at the Sydney Aquarium. Andy and Donna went along and together we explored a wonderful aquarium full of exhibits of beautiful aquatic specimens. They had an especially good exhibit on the Great Barrier Reef that I thoroughly enjoyed. Having visited Shedd in Chicago, The Georgia Aquarium, one in Ibaraki, Japan, and now Sydney, I have been lucky to see some of the best aquariums in the world. Below is a picture of Darling Harbor, near our hotel, with the aquarium just visible in the distance.

PS I added a few underwater photos to my post about snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef.

Romeo and Juliet

After an afternoon of walking around the city and exploring the many shops and bookstores, we suited up for dinner and then an evening at the Sydney Opera House to see Bell Shakespeare Romeo and Juliet. I know our coordinators had tried to get us to the opera, but that wasn’t possible because it was not in session now. However, this performance was excellent. It was a modern take on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet as directed by John Bell. It was certainly a highlight to see a great show at such a famous venue. After that a couple of us Fulbrighters went out to explore looking for gelato, but all the stores were closed. So, we walked back and called it a day.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Gardens and a Cruise

We began our first morning back in Sydney with breakfast and then a lecture on the environmental issues of Sydney from Ted Edwards, our wonderful guide during this whole trip. He has lived in and around Sydney for most of his life as a teacher and a principal. Now he does occasional trips for Odyssey Travel, which is the agency that arranged the logistics for this Fulbright-Hays trip. Ted has been a real delight during this whole trip and will be missed when we have to leave. After Ted’s lecture we went to the Botanical Gardens in Sydney for a walking tour. The gardens are beautiful and offer many wonderful views of plant life, the city, and fruit bats. (Yes, there were tons of fruit bats flying around and making quite a mess!) After the gardens tour we boarded a ship for a Sydney Harbor Cruise with lunch on board. After a wonderful lunch most of the group spent time on the deck admiring the views of Sydney from the water. The first picture below is of Ted Edwards and me. The second is of the Sydney Opera House from the water.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Travel Back to Sydney

Today was a travel day back to Sydney for the conclusion of the trip. We got to sleep-in before flying out of Cairns to arrive in Sydney at around 6 PM. We checked-in back at the first hotel we stayed at and then had dinner. Several of us went out to visit two famous and very old pubs—The Lord Nelson and the Hero at Waterloo pub. The Hero at Waterloo pub actually had a basement in which sailors were kidnapped and then put on ships out to sea for forced labor. They would go in for a drink and then wake-up 60 miles out to sea! The Lord Nelson pub is supposedly the oldest pub in Australia. This made for a nice evening before turning in for the night. The picture below is from my hotel room balcony in Cairns.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Rainforest Habitat Centre

After breakfast we had a guided tour of the Rainforest Habitat Centre. This was an amazing collection of native Australian animals, many of which we had seen before, but could see many times and still enjoy the experience. We saw many types of birds close up, koalas, freshwater crocs, saltwater crocs, emus, wallabies, kangaroos, and many more. We got to feed the kangaroos, which was fun because they were so tame that they ate out of your hand. There were even some with a baby kangaroo still in the pouch! All in all, it was a great morning. We spent the next hour at Mossman Gorge in Daintree National Park touring the beautiful rainforest area there. After that it was back to the hotel for lunch and then we had the afternoon free. I went to a store called Reef Teach to purchase several items for my curriculum unit on the Great Barrier Reef. I also bought an authentic Akubra Australian hat. For dinner that evening a bunch of us went to a local pizza place before calling it a night.

Breakfast with the Birds

We departed at 6:30 AM for a Breakfast with the Birds at the Rainforest Habitat Centre. We took an hour and a half drive along the ocean coastline before reaching our destination. The café was situated in the middle of a bird sanctuary, as is pictured below. We dined on many different types of exotic fruits and also on classic breakfast cuisine. This was yet another interesting experience to go along with the many on this trip.

Monday, July 10, 2006

The Great Barrier Reef

Today was one of the days that I was most looking forward to. My curriculum project for this trip is going to focus on the Great Barrier Reef, so today was going to be enjoyable and educational. We took a boat out on a two hour ride to Michaelmas Cay to snorkel on the reef. Most of us were nervous about getting sea sick since the surf was supposed to be rough, but pretty much everyone, including myself, was fine. The ride was beautiful. Once we got to the little sand island that is Michaelmas Cay, we took a little boat out to the island and began to snorkel. The thing that amazed me immediately was that there were tons of giant clams right off of the shore. Reefs were everywhere around and it was amazing to see so many different corals and fish. I went snorkeling three times with lunch in the middle before it was time to take a two hour ride back over the choppy seas. The picture below is of me just before we pushed off from the port to head to Michaelmas Cay. The second and third are both of giant clams and assorted corals in the reefs at Michaelmas Cay.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Cairns Arrival and Kuranda

This morning we left the hotel at 4:30 AM for an early flight to Cairns. The travel was uneventful, as is usually good, and we arrive in Cairns (pronounced Cans) by 9 AM. We immediately went to a train station to take a train up into the mountains to Kuranda. The trip was magnificent, and it was especially fun to stand outside the car and just view the mountains all around us as we ascended the mountain. After we were up top we had some time to browse the stores before eating lunch at a café. The way back down the mountain was a treat as well because we took the Skyrail and rode in a gondola. We were way up in the air and had a breathtaking view of the surrounding rainforest and of Cairns and the ocean. Once we were back at the hotel we had a lecture on the Great Barrier Reef and then dinner. The picture below is from the Skyrail looking over the outskirts of Cairns and the ocean beyond.

In Darwin

Once we arrived in Darwin we had a very nice lunch and then had time to explore a little before a dinner with the Australian-American Association. The Australian-American Association is a group of people that have American sailors to dinner each time a ship docks in Darwin Harbor. Darwin is a major military base, a growing city, and has a beautiful shoreline. The dinner was a lot of fun for all.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

A Didgeridoo

A while after the stop at the Cathedral termite mounds, we pulled-up to The Didgeridoo Hut & Art Gallery. Several Fulbrighters on the trip wanted to purchase a didgeridoo, a traditional Aboriginal instrument made with a termite hollowed-out tree trunk. The sound is a very low vibrating that sounds very Australian. I was interested in buying one, but not particularly interested in hauling it back half-way across the world with me. However, I found one that I liked a lot because it had the right colors and it had Namarrgon, the Lightning Man on it (see previous post for more info). So, I bought it and had it shipped back to me in Indiana to arrive in late July. I also bought a bag for it, an instructional booklet, and another piece of artwork that had Namarrgon, the Lightning Man on it. I will be very excited to see my purchases in a couple of weeks.

Cathedral Termite Mounds

We departed Kakadu National Park this morning for the return trip to Darwin. In route we had a morning tea break at the Bark Hut, a very Australian-looking outback store and bar. Then we stopped by a site of Cathedral termite mounds along the road. There are termite mounds everywhere around this area, but the Cathedral mounds are especially great because they are so tall. The mound I am pictured with below is over 13 feet tall and probably at least 20-30 years old.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Yellow Waters Cruise

We had the privilege of taking a boat down a wetlands and river area to view birds and crocodiles this afternoon. The views were spectacular. We saw so many amazing birds and quite a few saltwater crocodiles (this was freshwater, but saltwater crocs can live in freshwater). The first picture is of the amazing Jabiru bird that we got to see land and fish. The second picture is of one of the crocs. It was such a wonderful afternoon that I don’t think any of us wanted it to end. We concluded the day with dinner and then some time to discuss how our curriculum projects are coming along.

Namarrgon, the Lightning Man

We began out day with a visit to Mamukala Wetlands to view local birds before we headed to Nourlangie Aboriginal Art Site. We toured more Aboriginal art painted in shallow caves or under overhangs. My favorite painting was of Namarrgon, the Lightning Man. He is shown with a circle of lightning around him and with axes on his elbows and knees to make thunder. In the picture below, he is the white figure on the right side. We also had another beautiful hike to see a great panoramic view around parts of Kakadu National Park.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Kakadu National Park

This morning began with a lecture on Kakadu National Park and then we headed out to the park. We spent time at the visitor centre and then had lunch at a hotel that is shaped like a giant crocodile. In the afternoon we went to Ubirr to view aboriginal cave art and to tour some of the beautiful rock formations in Kakadu. We view quite a few sites where there was cave art that was quite old, but the aboriginals drew over their previous art, so it is hard to date a lot of it. The picture I have included below shows a white man with his hands in his pockets in the middle of the pictures. This is thought to depict the Europeans who came and ordered the Aboriginals around and kept their hands in their pockets. We also got to do a fairly challenging climb to the top of a rock formation for a grand view of the forest and wetlands. The second picture below shows me in the midst of the climb. We finished the day with a quick crocodile viewing session down by a nearby river.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Traveling to Kakadu National Park

We were up and moving fairly early this morning to take two flights to end-up in Darwin in northern Australia. It was magical to get off of the plane into tropic conditions. I was very pleased to put away my pants for a while. We then had a three hour coach ride to our hotel in Kakadu National Park where we had dinner and then had the evening free.

Kata Tjuta & Sounds of Silence

There is another spectacular rock formation near Uluru called Kata Tjuta (or by the western name The Olgas). This is a formation with lots of domes that make-up a large, striking landform. We went to a look-out point to see the view from afar, and then got up close and personal by hiking a long trail back into a beautiful gorge, which is pictured below. After that tour we had a dinner out in the desert called Sounds of Silence. This experience began with a sunset overlooking Uluru and Kata Tjuta, followed by a didgeridoo performance, and then by a very fine white tablecloth dinner in the middle of the desert. There was even a night sky program in which we were showed some of the amazing stars and planets you can see in the southern hemisphere night sky. The grandest is the Southern Cross, which is not viewable unless you are down under the equator. I was also amazed to see the white belt of the Milky Way galaxy, which I can’t remember ever seeing that brightly before. We were even given the chance to use telescopes to see up close images of Jupiter and of the moon. All in all it was a truly magical day and evening here in central Australia.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006


On our Independence Day, I began the day early with several Fulbrighters to head out to Uluru to experience the sunrise. Mary Ellen and I ran around Uluru (about five miles), but overshot our rendezvous point, so we had to run back about a mile extra to meet up with our group for breakfast! Needless to say, I was exhausted, but Mary Ellen who does marathons, was fine. The other Fulbrighters that went walked around to experience the beautiful sunrise. Shortly thereafter we began a more in-depth tour of Uluru and some of the famous spots around this famous site. The picture I show below is of an old, dead tree in front of Uluru.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Traveling to Ayres Rock

We had a very early departure time this morning because we had to catch a flight from Melbourne to Ayers Rock in central Australia. However, we were in Ayers Rock before noon and out at the cultural center and the famous Uluru shortly thereafter. We met our guide that will be with us for a while, named Martin (pictured below). Uluru is the Aboriginal name for what explorers later named Ayers Rock, and is very sacred to Aboriginals. I have it pictured below at sunset. We spent time learning some of the Aboriginal culture that surrounds the rock, and we spent time doing a little exploring, before we experienced a beautiful sunset looking at the changing colors of Uluru. Of course it was time to eat again, and we did a special cook-your-own-barbecue where we sampled alligator, emu, and kangaroo along with normal meats.

Eureka Centre, Sovereign Hill, and Blood on the Southern Cross

The Fulbright group next visited Eureka Centre to learn about the famous miners’ stand that helped to spur democracy in Australia. The story is basically about unfair taxation without representation, and the miners decided to make a stand, but were brutally crushed by soldiers and police (it is more complicated that that, so Google it to find out more). The miners had a flag called the Southern Cross that is now used to show defiance or labor unity even today. We also toured an area called Sovereign Hill, which is a recreation of an old mining town. We did a really great gold mine tour during this time as well. Finally, for dinner that evening we returned to Sovereign Hill to have dinner in an old banquet hall and then watch the sound and light show called Blood on the Southern Cross. It really was a spectacular day learning about how the miners stood up to the unfair government actions.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Craig’s Royal Hotel

When we arrived in Ballarat we were all amazed to see our accommodations for the evening at Craig’s Royal Hotel. This is a very old hotel that has been renovated to provide absolutely beautiful rooms. Every room is different, but each had a very warm feeling with beautiful beds, wardrobes, and bathrooms.

Attempted Whale Watching

This morning we got an early start so we could stop by Logan’s Beach in Warrnambool Bay to try to see some southern right whales. There is a whale nursery there that currently has some whales staying there, but we didn’t see them. The view was fantastic anyway, so it was still worth it. Then, we had a two hour and forty minute drive to Ballarat.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

The Twelve Apostles and the London Bridge

A while later on the Great Ocean Road we came upon the famous Twelve Apostles. These are striking rocks that rise from the ocean. Supposedly there were once twelve, but now there are fewer. From our vantage point you could only see a couple, but the view was still beautiful (as you can see from the first picture below). A little while later we stopped to see the London Bridge, another rock formation naturally formed by the ocean. In the picture below you can see it, but the part that used to attach to the mainland broke off and fell into the ocean in 1990. Now there is just one arch, instead of two. We also did stop to see the Bay of Islands before we finished the day’s travels to stay in Warrnambool for the evening.

Koalas and Ottway National Park

We continued up the Great Ocean Road and stopped by a little café for coffee. Normally this stop isn’t worth writing about, but we got to see two koalas in the wild. They were in some eucalyptus trees near the driveway to the café. Supposedly it is getting more and more rare to see these quiet animals away from a zoo. We also stopped to walk in Ottway National Park on the Maits Rest Rainforest Walk. This was an amazing walk through a temperate rainforest. The overwhelming green, moss, and dampness of place was quite an experience. The picture below shows the rainforest with Mary Ellen and Andy leading the way.

The Great Ocean Road

This morning we left Melbourne for a drive along the Great Ocean Road. This is a famous road that goes along the southern coast of Australia and offers incredible views of shorelines and sheer, rocky cliffs. It was a very winding road that tested the ability of each Fulbrighter to resist motion sickness! The first picture below shows me along the shore with the Great Ocean Road in the background.

Aussie Rules Football

After a quick dinner most of the group headed to the Telstra Dome to see an Aussie Rules Football game. We saw the North Melbourne Kangaroos take on the Essendon Bombers. Aussie Rules Football is interesting because to score you have to kick the ball in between the uprights at each end of the stadium. If you get it in between the two middle poles you get six points and between either of the two outer areas you only get one point. Other than that, they pretty much just run around and kick the ball and try to tackle the other person. It is quite a fast-paced and wild sport to view. It was quite enjoyable. I do have a picture of the game below. After the game I went for a walk with others for our last night in Melbourne. The other picture below is of part of the waterfront area.

Friday, June 30, 2006


Later that afternoon Mary Ellen and I went to see the brand new Picasso exhibit at the National Gallery of Victoria. The exhibit is traveling from its home in Paris, and just happened to open on our last day in Melbourne. The museum features work from Picasso from 1935-1945, and focuses on his painting of love and war during this period. He met his companion Dora Marr early in this time and that inspired him, but then as fascism took hold in Europe, his focus changed towards the pain and destruction of war. His masterpiece Guernica was painted during this time and recorded in photographs by Dora Marr. It was a very nice exhibit and really broadened my knowledge of Pablo Picasso.

The Queen Victoria Market

This morning I woke up and went for a nice run with Mary Ellen along the river and through the botanical gardens. After breakfast myself and Lynn, Donna, Laurie, Andy, and Jo went to the Queen Victoria Market to do some sightseeing and shopping. It was quite a display of food and items to purchase. After lunch there I went out on my own to walk back towards our hotel. The picture below shows Lynn, me, Donna, Laurie, and Jo on the tram in Melbourne on our way to the market.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Mao’s Chef

For dinner this evening we had the privilege of having Mao Zedong’s former chef cook for us at the Post-Mao Café. We had a massive dinner with some of the local Fulbright Scholars in the area. The food kept coming for something like 3 hours before the evening was over. It was good food, but after that long, I was ready to head for home.

The Australian Open

I had some time to myself this afternoon so I went wondering about the city. One of the places I visited was the home of the Australian Open. Of course it wasn’t in full use now since the Australian Open is in January, but it was still really cool to see the sights. I visited the Rod Laver Arena (which holds the center court), some of the show courts, the courtyards, the gift shop, and the Australian Players’ Hall of Fame statues.


Today was our first full day in Melbourne, and we spent the morning visiting a unique environmental center called the Centre for Education and Research in Environmental Strategies (or CERES for short). This was an interesting place to visit because this center does both educational programs for students and research in sustainable, environmentally friendly buildings. For instance, the center uses rain run-off for water, recycles water, has compost toilets, uses compost for almost all waste, recycles, uses bio-diesel for vehicles, has lots of solar panels, a windmill, a wind-turbine, and organic gardens. It is a great example of how we could live with a minimal environmental impact. The picture below is of Mrs. Cactus Head, one of the many interesting statues at CERES.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

In Melbourne

We drove for another hour and a half to reach downtown Melbourne, where we will be staying for the next two days and three nights. Melbourne is a magnificent city that is supposedly more refined than Sydney. When we did arrive we had dinner that evening at the hotel and then several of us went out and walked around the city to the riverfront area. It really is a beautiful city. Below are two pictures I took the following day of parts of the city.

Healesville Animal Sanctuary

We drove for several more hours, including a lunch stop, before coming to a mountainous region. After what seemed like hours of winding roads we ended up at the Healesville Animal Sanctuary. I didn’t go into this zoo with many expectations, but it was absolutely incredible. We got to see almost every well-known native Australian animal up close. We saw emus, koalas, wallabies, kangaroos, a Tasmanian devil, duck-billed platypus, wombats, and many more. One koala even had a baby with it, as pictured below. Several of the areas with the kangaroos and the wallabies had the animals moving around among us. Most of us got to touch a wallaby and get our picture taken with one (as I did below). This animal sanctuary has operating rooms to help injured animals that are brought in because of accidents. It has become a large tourist destination because of the wonderful interaction that is possible in such a place.

Brown Brothers Winery

Today was a traveling day from Albury to Melbourne. But, we had several fun stops along the way to help break the journey up. We stopped first at Brown Brothers Winery in the Milawa Gourmet Region. We had the opportunity for morning tea and then we learned about wines and some of the differences between varieties. In all we spent several hours there before moving on up the road. The picture below is of me and Andy with the vineyards in the background.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

A Home Cooked Dinner

This evening Vicki (from Kansas) and I went to have dinner with some local Rotary members, Tony and Nan Brandt. Tony is a lawyer and Nan is a nurse and swim coach. Each Fulbrighter had been paired up to eat dinner at some local resident’s house, and Vicki and I were lucky enough to get to eat with these fine folks. We had a wonderful dinner and wonderful drinks and spent time talking beside the fire. It really was a wonderful evening. Below I am pictured with Tony and Nan.

School Visits in Albury

The group had the experience today of visiting two local schools. We began in the morning with a visit of Burrumbuttock Public School. This is a local K-6 elementary school that specializes in environmental education. They have a campus that is made up of several buildings, including a K-3 school and a 4-6 school. There are only two teachers that I saw, with only 38 children. It is a very small school that is doing very neat things. In fact, local schools come to this campus to see the great outdoor education opportunities that it offers. After the elementary school visit we saw a local private Catholic high school named Xavier. They also have a large campus with many buildings. It was fun to drop in on cooking, shop, computer, PE, and other specialty classes. The first picture below is of the elementary school visit and the second shows the library of Xavier High School.

Two Other Blogs

Just a FYI--there are two others on this trip doing blogs. You may want to check them out for a different view of the trip, and for more pictures.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Skiing in Australia

Bridget from Ohio, Mary Ellen from NYC, and I decided to do some skiing today. Bridget is an avid skier and really wanted to ski in Australia. Mary Ellen and I decided to go along. The challenging part is that we had to rent a car and drive the about two hour drive to the mountains and Falls Creek Ski Resort. Bridget drove and we did make it without having any trouble, but it took a lot of concentration to not mess-up while driving. The scenery was absolutely beautiful up on the mountains. Bridget and I went downhill skiing while Mary Ellen did cross country skiing. I fell several times, but I am still proud of my effort. After several hours we drove back home to Albury to have dinner and call it a day. The pictures below are of us before skiing, me on the slopes, and of the drive home on the wrong side of the road.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

A Local Farm

Today we traveled back to Holbrook to visit a farm that has an environmentally friendly planted area to help restore some natural area in the countryside. There is a sort-of consortium that is partially funded by the government to help restore places in farms to be more wildlife friendly. They see it as a way to be environmentally friendly and not hurt the farm’s earning power. Some local scientists were there tagging and documenting some local birds, and that is the picture I have below. Later that day we had lunch in town and then we had the evening to ourselves. I wondered about the town and then went to see The Da Vinci Code with several Fulbrighters. Myself and two others are booking a car tomorrow to drive to local skiing slopes to have a look and maybe do some skiing. It should be an adventure with the driving on the wrong side of the road and all….