Tuesday, October 25, 2011


A highlight of our Saturday adventures Down Under was our journey by train to Rockingham about 45 minutes south of Perth early in October. Our destination was Penguin Island, a 5 minute boat ride off the coast.

The island is home to around 1200 “little penguins” – the smallest species in the world. They are naturally shy and spend most daylight hours feeding at sea or hidden away in burrows. At the Penguin Discovery Centre, we watched the daily feeding of a dozen little penguins housed there.

The park abounds with other wildlife, including wild dolphins, sea lions, stingrays, pelicans, and over 50 species of seabirds.

The baby terns had just hatched and were being watched over carefully by their mothers.

We had a fascinating experience in the glass bottom boat trip around Penguin Island and Seal Island. As we pulled away from the Penguin Island Dock, the skipper played the theme song from Gilligan's Island over the speakers. We all chuckled at its implications. After setting sail, we saw many pelicans and other seabirds. The sea lions had finished eating and were having their beauty sleep on the beach.

We did manage to awaken them long enough to get this picture.

We then turned to the seaward side of the island in search of the dolphins. The boat captain finally found a pod of dolphins (about a dozen) who wanted to play. The captain enticed them to wave surf alongside the boat. This time a chose to play "Surfin' USA." We were so enthralled with watching the dolphins surf the wake of the boat that we were unable to get a good picture of them. But for us it was the climax of the day’s adventures. It was amazing. As we approached the island jetty at the end of our boat tour, he played "Yellow Submarine" and everyone enjoyed singing along with the music.

The island, the color of the water, and the blue sky were too beautiful for words.

Reluctantly, we made our way back to the jetty for the brief return trip to the Rockingham shore.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Our last grand adventure Down Under was an extended weekend trip to the south west portion of the state of Western Australia. We had been invited to speak in Sacrament Meeting in the Bridgetown Branch by Brother Mullin. You may remember that the Mullins gave us a huge gift box of food and vegetables when we were new to the mission field, and continued with more “goody boxes” every month or two. They would travel from Bridgetown to Perth every month to attend the temple, a 3-1/2 to 4 hour drive one way. We had developed quite a friendship with them.

We headed south along the coast for our first adventure, the Lighthouse at Cape Naturaliste.

This lighthouse is the shortest in Australia, but sits on a hill overlooking the Indian Ocean, making it inexpensive to construct but extremely visible to ships off the coast.

Replacement of the lens at today’s prices would be well over a million dollars.

We continued south along the coast thru the Margaret River area and the vast fields of vineyards with its wineries offering free samples. (NO! We made it all the way without stopping for a taste!) Our next stop was at the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse where the Indian Ocean meets the Southern Ocean.

The Cape is known for its treacherous reefs, rocks, and weather. It is regarded by mariners as one of the most dangerous coastlines in the world. The lighthouse was built in 1895 and today it still uses the original lens that shines a light with the intensity of a million candles that is visible from over 30 miles away.

We stayed in Pemberton and spent a rather chilly night. The next day we took a two hour tour on the Pemberton Tram.

The railway meanders through towering Karri, Marri, and Jarrah forests, over tressle bridges spanning rivers and streams along one of Australia’s most majestic rail lines. During this spring visit, the forest was resplendent with colorful wildflowers. We stopped at Cascade Falls for a breathtaking view.

On our arrival at the Gloucester Tree in the Karri Forest, we were greeted by several of the colourful local residents.

The Gloucester Tree is famous for being the highest fire lookout tree in the world. It soars almost 200 feet above the ground to a lookout platform which has been firmly bolted to its uppermost branches. It was manned for pinpointing forest fires during the tinder dry summer months until the 1980’s. The climb to the top is made using the 153 rungs consisting of alternate wooden karri pegs and steel spikes.

Dad made it about ten feet up!

As we continued southeast out of the dense forests, we reached the southern coast of Western Australia, and were treated to the ocean view near Walpole.

Our next stop gave us this panoramic view of the Denmark inlet.

Further on, we stopped at Elephant Rocks, for another amazing view of the southern coast.

 The next day we made our way to the Valley of the Giants with its Tree Top Walk, which is almost 2000 feet in length, and reaches a height of over 130 feet. This suspension walkway is susceptible to swaying as you traverse its many spans. The swaying quickly leads to nausea and a sense of sea-sickness. Quite a feeling while 130 feet off the ground! Not for the sissies! The tiny person in the distance is Mom.

There is also a ground-level walk through a dense grove of uniquely shaped Tingle Trees called “The Ancient Empire.” This led us to “The Red Tingle Tree” which is 250 feet tall, 65 feet around, and over 400 years old. Hollows at the base of these trees are caused by fire, fungal and insect attack.

Sunday we attended church services in Bridgetown. We were favored with a very spiritual Sacrament Meeting, with almost three times their normal attendance during the three hour block of meetings. Members then provided a special farewell luncheon for Elder and Sister Orth, who have completed an 18 month mission and will be returning to Brisbane, Australia.

On our return to Perth we stopped in Fremantle (AGAIN!!!) to board the life-size replica of Captain Cook’s ship, “The Endeavor”, which is on a two year tour around Australia. We were welcomed aboard and given an hour long tour of the Endeavor, with details about life aboard ship during its 2 year journey in the early 1770’s.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Wave Rock

Due to the distance to Wave Rock, one of the major highlights of Western Australia, we decided to take a bus tour scheduled for Saturday, 3 September 2011. It took four hours to drive to Wave Rock and another four hours to drive back (not counting the stops) and Dad said, “No way am I going to drive it!” So we paid for the bus tour, and Sister Kruger joined with us.

The bus left Perth at 8 a.m. and headed east into the wheat belt region of WA. Our first stop was York, a small country town, which just happened to be celebrating York Day.

JoLyn, would you believe that there was even a Young Living Essential Oils booth there.

The gentleman at the booth mentioned that they had just begun sales in Australia.

Along the way the bus driver drew our attention to the famous “Rabbit Proof Fence.” After rabbits were first introduced to Australia by a British immigrant with 14 rabbits, a rabbit infestation from eastern Australia was threatening wheat fields. The government decided to build the fence to stop the western migration. It is the longest fence in the world! It slowed the migration but failed to contain the rabbits.

On to our next stop…a Dog Cemetery!! A gentleman wanted his dog buried next to him, but the township wouldn’t allow it. So he purchased a small piece of property and began a dog cemetery where well over 50 dogs from the community are buried.

Our journey continued to Hippo’s Yawn, and huge rock formation resembling a hippopotamus’ open jaws. It probably could have swallowed the whole bus.

The first order of business when we arrived at Wave Rock was to have lunch provided by the tour company. In a pond next to the lunchroom, were two beautiful black swans (the symbol of Perth) along with their 3 young goslings.

We have seen few black swans since our arrival, and never seen their goslings before.

WAVE ROCK – one of the world’s greatest natural spectacles which rises over 50 feet above the ground (and over 325 feet long) like a giant wave about to break. It’s a granite formation created by erosion. The dark stains are created by algae and lichen.

We made the steep hike to the top and discovered water pools and a natural fault line.

Note the beautiful panoramic view from the top. Wave Rock was the highlight of our day.

Before beginning our return trip, we stopped nearby at Mulka’s Cave.

Mulka was an Aboriginal boy with a vision impairment preventing the ability to hunt to provide for himself and his mother after his father’s death. He eventually turned to cannibalism and hunted down and killed. He lived in Mulka’s Cave, which contains hundreds of handprints, believed to be his, as well as young tribal warriors in later years.

Note the beautiful view from the parking lot as we headed back to Perth, another 4 hour drive which included a brief stop for afternoon tea and crumpets, arriving just before 10 p.m.

All in all, another wonderful adventure Downunder!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

We're in the paper!! LDS Church News article on Summer Wonderland

Here is the link to the article: http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/60335/Summer-Wonderland-boosts-missionary-effort.html


'Summer Wonderland' boosts missionary effort

200 referrals, one baptism so far, result from event held near Mormon temple
Published: Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011
This time of year means cold and snow in much of the world, but not in Australia, where summer prevails from December through February. Mormon missionaries in the Australia Perth Mission took advantage of the balmy temperatures to put on a "Summer Wonderland" event Dec. 10 that drew some 1,500 people, yielded some 200 missionary referrals and has already led to at least one baptism and several people hearing the missionary lessons.
Photo by Elder Michael Johnson
With Perth Austrlia Temple in background, crowd watches island cultural performances, part of "Summer Wonderland" event organized and put on by missionaries in Australia, where the summer season runs from December to February.

In an e-mail to his family in Utah, Elder James Crawley said a committee of six missionaries planned and organized the event, which included a Cook Islands group, a Samoan fire dance, a Hawaiian group, a New Zealand kapa haka group (the traditional performance art of the Maori people) and performances by groups of sister missionaries and elders.
The program was staged adjacent to the Perth Australia Temple and a Church meetinghouse, giving visitors a chance to see these edifices.

Photo by Elder Michael Johnson
Samoan fire dancers perform for audience at "Summer Wonderland," a missionary-sponsored event which included tours of adjacent meetinghouse.

"During the breaks between performances, people went on chapel tours," Elder Crawley said. "On the tours we had either a stake president or a bishop in the chapel explaining what we do for sacrament meeting. The group then moved to the overflow of the chapel, where a Relief Society sister had a nice display set up and where she talked about the Relief Society organization of the Church."

Photo by Elder Michael Johnson
"Summer Wonderland" event was organized and put on by missionaries in Australia, where the summer season runs from December to February.

Tour groups then were conducted to the meetinghouse cultural hall, where booths were set up and attended to by Church members who explained youth programs and family history research.
"Towards the end of the tour the missionaries stopped by the baptismal font and talked about why we baptize by immersion," Elder Crawley wrote. "Then, after the tour, a professional photographer took family or group photos on a nicely decorated stage in front of the temple. Afterward, most families wandered up around the temple."

Photo by Elder Michael Johnson
"Summer Wonderland" event was organized and put on by missionaries in Australia, where the summer season runs from December to February.
It was arranged that missionaries would drop off photo prints to the families or individuals who had their pictures taken and talk to them more about the Church.
"So all members really needed to do was bring a friend, and automatically they would go through the chapel, meet really good people, have a lovely evening, meet the missionaries and even expect a visit from them afterward to drop off the photo," Elder Crawley wrote.
Many details were seen to in planning the event, Elder Crawley said. "We spent a long time and put a lot of effort into this. Our best effort plus the grace of God made the activity an incredibly successful evening." he added.
"Planning all this may not sound like typical missionary work, and it wasn't. But there were so many things that happened that made us realize that it was certainly inspired. The fruits from our efforts are actually greater than if we had spent all that time proselytizing normally; 200 member referrals is not an easy thing to come by."
Member support is illustrated by the fact that a stake president asked his entire stake to fast beforehand for the activity, praying that they could find someone to bring and that it would go well.
Even though missionaries have not had opportunity to drop off all of the photos yet, here, according to Elder Crawley, are some early indications of success:

A woman from Midland was touched by the chapel tour and the spirit of the temple. As a result, she was recently baptized.

A friend of a Duncraig Ward member attended the ward Christmas party and has agreed to take the lessons from the missionaries.

After attending the activity, three friends of a Dianella Ward member have attended Church and have now been taught three missionary lessons.

Two families invited by a member family in Ballajura attended the activity and have now accepted an invitation to hear the missionary lessons. One family has been taught the first lesson and has agreed to a return appointment.

Photo by Elder Michael Johnson
"Summer Wonderland" event was organized and put on by missionaries in Australia, where the summer season runs from December to February.

An individual who came to the activity wanted to learn more about the Church. After learning all he could on the Internet, he showed up at the Como Ward wanting to be taught and is now receiving lessons from the elders in his area.
"We trust that many more good things will come as we follow up with those people who attended," Elder Crawley said.