I’m Elder & Sister Kinghorn’s niece, Shelly Olivier and my husband and I visited Uncle Dave and Aunt Ilene earlier this month. As soon as I heard they were called to the Sydney South Mission, I started planning my visit, studying my cousins’ itineraries and on March 4th we arrived! After a short flight and a long flight and customs, it was so nice to have friendly faces pick us up at the airport. I couldn’t get over all the green as we drove to their flat, Colorado is not green yet.
We were able to attend the Chinese Branch with them and meet some members of the branch and the Mortdale ward as well (who I now recognize from their pictures on the blog). I quickly learned that we were on “holiday”, not “vacation”, and everyone was very friendly.
Elder and Sister Kinghorn told us it was their job to keep us awake, so they drove us down to see views of Wollongong, then the beach, then the cliff bridge! It was very strange to see cars on the “wrong” side of the road, Elder Kinghorn has it down, so we are glad we didn’t have to try it. “Keep left unless overtaking” was our favorite sign.
Monday we got to see the Mission office where they work, the storage closet with so many different languages of copies of the Book of Mormon… and the train station and we were off! We toured the Opera House and learned a lot! I expected stucco siding and was really surprised by the tiles. We walked through the Royal Botanical Gardens and loved all the beautiful, different flowers and foliage.
We stopped at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. We had planned to come
when it was cold in Colorado and lovely in Sydney, but we came during an unseasonably warm week, high 80s, so we enjoyed the air conditioning, and the art.
We walked back through the botanical gardens to the ferry and rode across the harbor to Manly.
On the ferry we think we found the spot in Finding Nemo where there are boats in the harbor and all the seagulls saying “mine”. We rode the train back from Circular Quay (key) to a lovely dinner a
nd hosts ready to hear about our day.
Tuesday morning we rode the train to the Queen Victoria Building. It’s an older building, built during a recession to give employment, the architecture, ceilings, tile work, and stained glass windows were gorgeous.
We followed recommendations and visited the Barracks Museum to learn more about Australian
History. We tried the beds, the hammocks and determined the guest room at the Kinghorn’s is much more comfortable. Then we followed the recommendation of the Eastern Coastal Beach walk from Bondi Beach to Coogee Beach. It was gorgeous!! We also tried the Fish & Chips place that my cousin found almost a year ago. Delicious!
We almost made it, but the heat caught up to us, so we stopped and Clovelly and caught a bus to the airport. Airport? Yes, we flew up to Cairns (Cans) that night.
Jeff arranged for a day trip to Green Island, about an hour boat ride from Cairns. We took a glass bottom boat tour, a semi-submarine tour and spent the rest of the time snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef.
Our hotel was right on the coast and we ate all our meals watching the water, the sun set, the huge bats fly around and enjoying the view.
Our second day in Cairns we rode a 100 year old scenic railway to Kuranda, explored Rainforestation, got an army duck tour through the rainforest, petted a crocodile, a koala, wallabies and kangaroos,
saw Aboriginal dances, learned to throw a boomerang, and rode back in the skyrail above the rainforest.
We got up at 3:30 (not so bad when you are jetlagged anyway) Friday to fly back to Sydney. When we landed we took the train and ferry to the Taronga Zoo. Even though we had seen many Australian animals the day before at Rainforestation, the zoo had many more. Their noctural building was full of various sizes of hopping noctural animals.
The Tazmanian devil does not resemble the one in Looney Tunes. The zoo is on a slope and as you walk up and down and around you have many gorgeous views of the harbor.
After the zoo we took the ferry to Circular Quay and another ferry to Watson’s Bay. The views were gorgeous. We took a bus to the train and headed back to Elder and Sister Kinghorn’s flat.
Looking from Watson’s Bay to Manly
Elder & Sister Kinghorn worked hard so they could spend Saturday with us. They kindly offered to drive us up to the Blue Mountains in Katoomba, saving us a 3 1/2 hour train ride each way. They joined us at Scenic World, although they had been there twice
before and showed us the ropes. We rode the skyrail and hiked to Katoomba Falls. Then we rode back and tried out the World’s Steepest railroad, 52 degree slope! We rode up for lunch and then back down to hike around the forest. After the hike we rode the cable car back up (looks like the skyrail, but from low to high) and the guide was a hoot,
encouraging all the cramped passengers to try yoga or calisthenics. We drove over to Echo Point to get a closer look at the Three Sisters and then headed back to Sydney.
The Stake Relief Society Birthday Party/Musical Fireside was that evening and I was able to join Sister Kinghorn while Elder Kinghorn and Jeff found a great Indian restaurant. The food was delicious, the Samoan and Tongan dresses were gorgeous, the music was beautiful and the talks touching. Sister Kinghorn played violin with the Chinese sisters as they sang and I was grabbed last minute to sing “Abide With Me” with four sisters of the Mortdate Ward. Such a great evening.
We really enjoyed hearing about the work Elder and Sister Kinghorn are doing and the problems they have fixed. I was impressed to see Sister Kinghorn make breakfast, lunch and dinner as she got ready for each day. Elder Kinghorn explained what it’s like to pick up 20 missionaries from the airport with vans and trailers, parking all the vehicles at the top of the parking structure and meeting them at the national AND international terminals. He also explained how each flats (apartments in a complex) are owned by different people and what a challenge managing the flats had been. We are amazed at all they do, getting up at 5:30 every morning and staying up later than we did each night.
Sunday morning we woke up, packed, ate, skyped the kids and headed to the airport. Thank you so much Uncle Dave & Aunt Ilene, we had a wonderful time, we really enjoyed seeing you and the amazing work you’re doing there, and Australia was pretty amazing too.