Sunshine Coast, Australia

Our Week With The Sunshine Coast of Australia

Marlene DiBrito, Exchange Director

The Aussies came, they saw, and we conquered!

Our week exchange with the Sunshine Coast was educational, engaging, and enjoyable. The weather cooperated ironically with an Indian summer as we visited the Native American Museum to learn about our original inhabitants.

The Discovery Museum video highlighted the birth of our Northern Lake County and displayed live exhibits and artifacts showing the outgrowth connecting Chicago. After we viewed the dazzling cars at the Volo Auto Museum where our 16 ambassadors dreamed about owning and driving one of those antique American beauties, we toured the Volo Bog with a naturalist who explained the thousands of years of glacial melting and its effects on the surrounding area.

The Chicago History Museum gave our guests a virtual ride on the “L”, traced the cause and route of the Chicago Fire and all of the Chicago events following the rebuilding of it. We enjoyed lunch at a wonderful Asian restaurant; drove up Sheridan Road and viewed Evanston’s Northwestern University, Baha’i Temple and Glencoe’s Botanic Garden.

We wound up the week competing in teams playing Bocce Ball after enjoying a sumptuous Sunday Brunch and then all 35 of us experienced the musical “Dream Girls”.

During this exchange we traded experiences and cultures with our Sunshine Coast guests and got to know each other’s lives one on one across the dinner tables. We realized that no matter where we live and who we meet, we share the same joys and sorrows in our everyday lives and that Friendship Force gives us the opportunity to experience that friendship with many different worlds and know that through it all we are all the same.

Ambassadors with hosts at bus station





Northern Illinois meets Sunshine Coast


Volo Bog and Auto Museum

Native American Museum and Chicago History Museum

Entertainment at the Farewell Dinner: “Christmas in Australia”

Host Comments:

John Balazs:
Sunshine Coast travelers visited the Botanic Garden by John Balazs
Our two visitors from the Sunshine Coast of Australia, Tony and Patricia, enjoyed viewing the flowers and trees of our area, especially the roses and the fruit trees. Both are rarely seen in Australia. It seemed like all of the Aussies enjoyed the Garden and had a great time there.

They were impressed by our rivers and ponds throughout Illinois and smiled at the Botanic Garden waterways. Tony and Patricia said that their country has mainly black swans, when they saw the white swans of the Garden.
I also was told that although our trees lose their leaves, their huge Gum Trees lose many limbs (branches) during their lifetime.

Joan Harrington:
The Native American museum in Evanston was one of the highlights of this exchange for both our ambassadors and the hosts. The museum is well lighted, well organized and artifacts are beautifully displayed. Our docent was superb. He became interested in Native American art when his junior high school teacher gave them a project to create a Native American mask and to present its history. He said that he was hooked on Native American and Indian art from that time on. In addition to an explanation of the artifacts and art work our docent gave us the background of the migration of Indians all over the world.

This was a first class tour and I highly recommend it.

Mary Lou Balazs:
Tony Barry was very interested in seeing the coal mine in Chicago that he had heard so much about from friends. So on our free day, we took Tony & Patricia to the Museum of Science & Industry to spend the day. Tony very much enjoyed the simulated coal mine experience and asked a lot of questions from our guide.

He was equally impressed with the great World War II exhibit, showcasing the captured German U2 Submarine. They could not believe that the entire sub was enclosed in the museum and they were able to board it for a tour. The wonderful explanatory pictures and stories of the war leading up to the captured sub were especially important to both Tony and Patricia. Both were born in England during the war and had heard many stories from family. After extensive bombing, Tony’s mother, a nurse, was trapped in a hospital for 3 days before being rescued. And Patricia was born in a bomb shelter. Both had family members serving in the war and they appreciated reading all the old news articles from the London papers.

Another surprise at the museum was the life-size replica of the Mars rover, Curiosity. A museum guide was there to point out the various aspects of the space vehicle and showed actual pictures currently being sent back to Earth from its camera. Of course, the farm, trains and body exhibits were a big hit too. It was a full day, but one which they truly enjoyed.

On our second free day, we took Tony, Patricia and our 3 year old grandson to the Apple Holler Orchard in Wisconsin. They enjoyed seeing the children feed the goats, play on the hay stacks, pick out pumpkins and walk through the corn maze. In addition, they got to experience the changing color of our trees.