Day 1: Home to Honolulu, Hawaii

Day 1 (7/9/2002): Michigan-Hawaii
The set time for the Gerald R. Ford airport was for 8:15 am to meet. Everyone arrived and we had plenty of time to check in, despite the strict security. Our plane took off on time from Grand Rapids and we arrived in Detroit a few minutes later. It was not a problem to catch our desired flight to Los Angeles.

We made great time flying, arriving in Los Angeles almost half an hour early. Unfortunately our flight to Honolulu was delayed by a couple of hours, so we stayed approximately 6 hours at the airport. We received $10.00 for food at the airport and basically passed the time waiting. A fellow from New Zealand (his name was Andrew) was passing through the airport, coming back from back packing Canada and the Mediterranean. The girls flocked to him and some exchanged names and e-mail addresses. We finally got on the airplane (Hawaiian Airlines) and arrived in Hawaii at about 10:00 pm local time.

Adam and Joy met us at the airport and so my group of 19 wa…

Days 2 and 3: Honolulu, Hawaii

Days 2 - 3 (7/10/02 - 7/11/02): Honolulu
We got up and the group went down to Perry's Smorgy, a place where it was all you can eat breakfast. After that Mike got us on a bus then took us down to Pearl Harbor. He was Samoan, I believe. He told us why all the natives called each other cousin (They all had the same uncle, Uncle Sam). We seen the memorial and then took a tour of Honolulu with another bus driver. He told us some interesting things about Honolulu.
1.Most people work two jobs so that they can afford to live there.
2.A fellow named Bishop married a great (or so) granddaughter of King Kamehameha and         basically inherited the islands. He is very rich and has invested in the school system here.
3.If you can prove that you’re at least 50% Hawaiian, you can get a $1/year land lease for a house.
4.All of Honolulu uses water from a drilled Aquifer that is very good water.

We stopped at the statue of King Kamehameha, a good looking statue that was downtown. The story goes that…

Day 4: Sydney, Australia

Day 4 (7/13/2002): Sydney, Australia
We arrived around 7:00 am in Sydney, losing a day due to the aforementioned date line. We got through borders and met Jonathan, our Australian tour director. He took us on a tour of Sydney. He talked about the history of the city. 

The two most important people are Captain Cook and Governor MacQuaries. Captain Cook was instrumental in mapping the island and Governor MacQuaries was instrumental in developing Sydney, as he used convicted thieves other abilities (like architects or builders) to help build up the island. Then we took a turn down some old streets so that we could pass the time until we could check in to our hotel, The Hyde Park Plaza Suites. It's got a good location in Sydney, within walking distance of a lot of stores. 
We split up into two groups to shop and to eat lunch. Once we got into our rooms we took a few hours off to do laundry, rest, and use the pool and hot tub that was on the top floor.

We met as a group again and split up …

Day 5: Sydney Australia

Day 5 (7/14/2002): Sydney, Australia

We had a wonderful breakfast and had our first taste of Vegemite. It is a concentrated yeast extract that is usually put on toast, it's very salty. I guess it's also a good source of vitamin B. Most Australian's have this every day. 
The tour bus took us to Lady Macquarie's chair in Mrs. Macquarie's Point. It was a place that her husband the governor made for her to walk around. There was even a chair carved out of stone for her to sit in. 
From there, we left to go to the Sydney Opera house. We took a tour and saw the different sets (stages) and got a lecture on how the acoustics worked. The outside is made of concrete and glass, which covers another building inside.

We also went to the Sydney tower and got a great view from the tallest building South of the equator. It was the finale of a fine exhibit on the history of Australia, complete with rotating stages and holograms. It even had a ride with chairs that moved and delivered m…

Day 6: Sydney to Coffs Harbor, Australia

Day 6 (7/15/02): Sydney-Coffs Harbor
Today's journey is the longest by bus. We started out after breakfast toward Coffs Harbor. We heard some Australian songs like Waltzing Matilda, the G-day song, Tie Me a Kangaroo Down Sport, and The Vegemite song. Everyone was quiet and sleepy during the morning. We took a break for snacks and lunch on the way. Some brought stamps, ate the local grub, and bought some food for evening meal.

After lunch, We had a music quiz on famous movie songs. I also found out some more information on our tour director Jonathan Johnstone. He was currently on break from the "uni" (university) and is studying to become a primary school teacher. We arrived at the Coffs Harbor at around 4:00 p.m. The hotel, the Opal Cove Resort at Coffs Harbor had a great pool and outdoor swimming facility. The beaches could be heard from the hotel room. It was too dangerous to go swimming at the beach because of the tide.
We took a few hours to enjoy the beach, get into th…

Day 7: Coffs Harbor to Surfer's Paradise

Day 7 (7/16/02): Coffs Harbour-Surfer's Paradise
We got up extra early to see the sunrise. It was set for 6:58 a.m. but arrived a little earlier. There's nothing like seeing a sunrise against the setting of a beach and the roar of the ocean.

We continued our trek along the Pacific highway, actually seeing Kangaroos in fields along the road. 
Along the way, John played a VCR tape about Kangaroos and how they interact in their society.
We stopped at Cape Byron, the eastern most point of Australia. We saw the lighthouse and dolphins in the ocean. We didn't see any whales. 

Around lunchtime we stopped at Byron Bay Township for a few hours of beach and shopping. 
Despite the cooler weather and water, it was fun to be in the ocean. 
We continued north and arrived in Surfer's Paradise around 5:00 p.m. An hour late, John took us downtown where we all took off shopping and eating supper.
Interesting information about Australia: All native trees lose their bark not their leaves.They cele…

Day 8: Surfer's Paradise

Day 8 (7/17/02): Surfer's Paradise
A lot of people got to sleep in today. Those who went to the 4 wheel drive tour of the rain forest left the hotel, Mercure Resort Conalia, at 8:00 a.m. We took off west towards the continental divide , occasionally stopping to see breathtaking views or animals such as kangaroos, wallabies (very similar to kangaroos but with different habits, as was explained to me).

We stopped at an Alpaca ranch. The animal looks very similar to a llama and has fur that is seven times warmer than sheep's wool. The prices at the boutique also indicated this.
Later, we had tea at another great view. Tea, coffee, or juice was served as well as fresh banana cake and cookies. 
We continued on to Lamington and Mount Tamborine National Parks to see a rain forest. One was high up in the hills close to the continental divide. I had not realized that rainforests can be in many different altitudes. The type of fauna and plants just differ. 
We went above the rainforest in a …