I'm back from New Zealand and Australia!
We were gone for 24 days. It was fun, long, good, bad, all of the above. We went for World Youth Day to learn about our Catholic faith and to have Mass with the Pope. We first went to New Zealand for a week and did some community service projects (cleaned up an old cemetary), learned about the culture there, had Mass and worship at a local parish. The parish was very nice and set us all up with host families to stay with. Our host family was wonderful. Terribly, on the last day we were there, I started getting sick (body ached and my chest was tight). The plane ride to Sydney Australia was terrible for me, but I survived. Then the plan was to go to the World Youth Day events. Our group (about 50) stayed at the same hotel (cheap one, but it worked well. My sickness got worse and I stayed in bed for the next 5 days. I pretty much missed all of the World Youth Day events. I made it to the Stations of the Cross, which was neat to see and the Final Mass with the Pope. I was bummed I didn't get to do the 7K walk to the Vigil or attend the Vigil Mass and sleep outside to attend the Final Mass, but oh well. I slowly started to feel better and then it was time to rent the RV/caravan for just the 5 of us (Dan, Dan's brother Stephen and two sisters Cheryl and Katey and me) to travel up the coast to Fraser Island. Dan caught what I had and was sick throughout the trip. So I did most of the driving which was fun, since it's on the left side of the road. I did pretty well until the end. I was getting too comfortable with it and forgot once. At a traffic light I turned left and went into the right lane, I realized quickly because lights were coming at me down the road and so I jumped the little median curb and went over into the left lane. All was well, just some jumbled passengers in the back of the rv.
Anyways, the trip up the coast was fun. It was a lot of driving though, but it was nice to see more of Australia than just Sydney. We saw wild kangaroos dead and alive. Surprisingly they are like deer here. The weather was on the chilly side. It is there winter, so we wore jeans and sweatshirts mostly and raincoats when needed. Once we got to Fraser Island, we took a one day tour of the island. It was fun. We spent about 30 mins at Lake McKenzie and that was probably my favorite of the whole trip. I wish we could have spent longer and I wish it was a little warmer. However, the sand was soo soft and the water was super clear.
We drove back towards Sydney and stopped at Hunter Valley vineyards. That was a neat day too. Then we got back to Sydney and went to the Opera House and saw the bridge better. We got a hotel ($200 for a small room with one queen size bed and another $200 for another small room with double and twin beds for the 5 of us), so we got a good night sleep before the long plane rides back home (3 hours to New Zealand, 12 hours to LA, 3 hours to Portland Oregon and of course stopping time in between).
Here is a picture of Lake McKenzie.
I posted some other pictures on my flickr account, click here to see them.