On Thursday September 10, Suzanne Webber, Kimberly Apthorpe and five chosen Bingara ambassadors, Jade Dixon, Nicole Coombes, Michael O’Brien, Ellora Legg and Ally Holland-Wright set off on an eight and a half hour epic journey on the bus and train to Willoughby.
The trip down was extremely longbut everyone was talking about how excited they were and what activities they were most eager to embark on and this made the trip a lot more exhilarating. Sampling the food on the train was definitely an experience … Eeewwww!
Arriving in Chatswood after the lengthy trip, we met John Woodward (Willoughby Council Youth Coordinator), where we all headed to Fook Yuen Restaurant for the welcoming dinner with both the Bingara and Willoughby exchange students, host families, Council staff and Councillors.
After a wonderful welcoming dinner and extremely long day everyone headed to their host family home to get some much needed rest for the days ahead that were crammed full of exciting activities!
Friday was packed full of breathtaking experiences, including a city tour and the Botanic Gardens, shopping at Paddy’s Markets and lunch in Chinatown before embarking on an amazing three and a half hour Sydney Harbour Bridge climb. The Bingara and Willoughby group of 13 successfully climbed to the summit of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and received a climber certificate to prove it.
Saturday was the Willoughby Spring fair, Councilor Peter Pankhurst and Mayor Pat Riley presented the students with their certificates on the main stage then all of the students participated in the march and helped out on the Gwydir Shire Council Stall, giving out fridge magnets and brochures to encourage people to visit our Shire then they spent the rest of the day browsing around the fair before heading to Macquarie Ice Rink for two hours of skating.
Twohours of skating turned into two hours of laughing and enjoyment as almost everyone fell over several times. Limbo on ice was very popular with the Bingara and Willoughby kids challenging the whole ice rink to dancing and limbo on the ice!
Sunday was a relaxing day, with a sleep in and a peaceful day at Manly beach. The weather was great and the beach was packed. The water was a bit nippy, but after a while everything went numb!
A few highlights included footy activities on the sand and burying a few people. We finished the day off with a farewell pizza dinner where everyone was together for the last time.
Monday was another long day as we all left the big smoke and headed for the bush. Departing Hornsby and saying goodbye was hard, but many friendships were made during this exchange and all involved stay in contact thanks to mobile phones and facebook.
A big thank you to Michael O’Brien, Aaron Duncan, Jade Dixon, Jessica Papikian, Nicole Coombes, Elly Aitkenhead, Ellora Legg, Madi Cornay, AllyHolland-Wright, Xu Jie (Jacki) and ZhiJun (Ernie), for being wonderful ambassadors and great role models for their families and towns/suburbs.
A big thank you also goes to all the host families involved and to John Woodward, Suzanne Webber and Kimberly Apthorpe for all the hard work and effort that went into making this years exchange program such a success.
The Willoughby program runs each year and is always after new young people to share the amazing experiences, so if you are between the age of 14 to 17 and would like to be a part of the program, then approach either Suzanne Webber or Kimberly Apthorpe to put your name down for next years exchange program.