Never did we dream that we would be able to visit Australia during our Mission, but here we are!!!! One of the hats we wear is that of Public Affairs for the Church in the Solomon Islands. We were invited to attend the annual conference for those with this responsibility in the Pacific Area. This year it was held in Melbourne. We have been doing public affairs for nine months and were so grateful to be able to be trained.
We had a little hiccup on the way to Melbourne, our plane was scheduled to leave Honiara at 3pm, but didn't take off until 6pm. For some reason, they could not refuel the airplane before we took off, so we stopped in Cairns Australia. Who would have guessed, but now we can say we have been to Cairns. As we sat on tarmac, after 30 minutes or so, the pilot came on the intercom and told us he was sorry it was taking so long, but the ground crew was really busy. We looked out the window to the right and couldn't see a plane, out the left the same, and this is a small airport. Oh well, after about 1 1/2 hour, we took off for our original destination of Brisbane. It was 11:30 pm when we got to Brisbane and the airport was nearly deserted. There were no more flights that night and we of course had missed our connection to Melbourne so they put us up in a hotel about 45 minutes from the airport. We finally got to bed at 1am and we were up at 3am to get ready and catch the bus back to the airport at 4 am. We caught the first flight to Melbourne and arrived there at 9 am. The conference was at the Marriott and we checked in at 11 am.
While we were still running on adrenaline we jumped on the trolley and took a look around town.
There a many beautiful parks in downtown Melbourne. You can see Cheryle is dressed a little different than when we are in the Solomons. Every one said we would freeze, but it was great, our first cool day in 9 1/2 months. Yes winter here is in June, July and August!!
No, there are not a lot of Rhinos in Melbourne, just a lot of these signs. They warn you to look out for the trolleys because it would be like getting hit by a rhino on a skateboard.
The Queen Victoria Market has been in Melbourne for over a hundred years. It is amazing, you can buy almost anything from produce to jewelry and the prices are really good.
Cheryle loved the isles and isles of clothes and the prices!!
Our room at the Marriott was great. After a short nap, we enjoyed a session at the Melbourne Temple. It has been 9 long months since we have been able to attend the temple and we appreciated this opportunity.
Elder Hamula was the first speaker at our Public Affairs seminar. He gave the important vision of what we should be doing in our callings.
What a great honor to have him speak to us.
What a great honor to have him speak to us.
Ken wore a suit for the first time in 9 months.
As the Conference concluded Sunday afternoon, Rob and Theone Snow invited us to their home in Melbourne to stay with them for a few days. They are a great Senior Couple serving in Papua New Guinea as Public Affairs and Humanitarian missionaries. They treated us like family and we had a great time with them.
Monday morning Rob took us to Healesville sanctuary, a nature preserve with all Australian native plants and animals.
The Kangaroo Whisperer
Kookaburra sitting in the old gum tree
While we were with Rob at the sanctuary Theone and their daughter Tammy were home preparing a wonderful dinner. The Melbourne Mission President and his wife and a counselor in the Temple Presidency and his wife were invited. It happened to be Cheryle's birthday.
The dinner could not have been bought at a restaurant at any price, it had been prepared, presented and served in a most extraordinary fashion. It was delicious from the three appetisers, through the multiple main dishes, to the super tasty choice of deserts!
The next morning we started early for a trip down the Great Ocean Road. We spent the next 12 hours viewing the most amazing scenery you can imagine.
Our first highlight was a herd of Kangaroos on the side of a mountain near the coast. Just like we see deer at home. Then we began seeing Koalas in the trees.
Split Point lighthouse
Rob Snow, our expert guide
World famous Twelve Apostles
Australia is an amazing country, we will never forget our time there!
We learned so much on our Public Affairs Conference and are so grateful for this opportunity to visit Australia. Cheryle could not imagine a better birthday.