After the long flights down here from Kelowna and Yakima, the Rotary District 5060 Vocational Training Team (VTT) went to work almost immediately. We were warmly greeted at the beautiful Adelaide Airport by study exchange coordinator Jacqui Atyeo and VTT Scholarship Committee members. Next were were whisked off to the Barossa Valley to a hotel to relax a bit, then a few hours later were the guests of the Barossa Valley Rotary club and the program for their evening meeting. It was a lively meeting and as it was Saint Patrick’s Day there was a bit of Irish fun.
Next morning we were at it again with an orientation on the trip with local planners then off to host families to get settled for the duration in the Barossa Valley. Our first winery tour was to Bethany Winery, a family owned operation where the fifth and sixth generations of the Schrapel family work in the business. Our team wine expert Lynn will be writing a more detail blog soon on the wine experiences we’ve had in the Barossa Valley.
Then we spent time with our host families. One of the highlights of the Rotary Vocational Training Team trips is the time spent with local hosts. These dedicated Rotarians and families truly show the spirit of Rotary and their country. Well versed in their communities and Rotary, they offer insights and unique experiences you could never duplicate in a regular vacation. My host for this week is Marie Rothe. I do think Marie practically knows everyone in the community of Tanunda and beyond. Every where we go we see and talk to folks she knows, whether it be along an isolated gravel road in the hills or an impromptu stop at a winery, up pops a chum or fellow volunteer. While we are here for career enrichment and sharing, the host families make the experience.
In the afternoon we spent time at the local Visitor Info Centre, learning from their staff about their marketing efforts and to marvel at the variety of services they offer.
Yesterday (Saturday) we were literally on stage for the Rotary District 9500 Annual Conference. We were welcomed by District Governor Doug Layng and presented to the attendees a program about ourselves, communities and careers. Our team did our home clubs and communities proud. For lunch we met with a few of the VTT that in May will come to our regions of Washington and British Columbia. The day wrapped up with the conference awards banquet, a great way to mingle with newly met Rotarians.
This morning (Sunday) Marie took our team on a hike in the Kaiserstuhl Native Forest Reserve. The rugged park and trails cover 596 hectares (about two square miles) largely along the crest of a small hill overlooking the Valley. In this forest are around 400 native plant species and animals. Having spent my early years in the Los Angeles area, I grew up in a large yard that was lined with tall Eucalyptus trees, so they have always been a favorite of mine. There were many Eucalyptus trees of varying sizes and species in the reserve, some as old as 200 years. Along the trek we had our first sighting of a mob of kangaroos. They must be used to human visitors as they did not pay much attention to us.
The local committee is doing a great job of providing us educational and cultural experiences in the Barossa Valley. We look forward to our final two days here.