Voigt presents ’Abby’s Aussie Adventure

Linda Saholt

News Review Correspondent

Voigt presents ’Abby’s Aussie AdventureAbigail Voigt, 14, showed her photos of Australia to the Ridge-crest Exchange Club on Sept. 12. The enterprising teenager gave the program to thank the club for helping her participate in the trip as part of the People to People program.

The club’s support was part of the donations allowing her to raise the $8,000 needed to be able to go on the trip.

Abby is the daughter of Nancy and Brian Voigt of Ridgecrest, and is now in 10th grade. She is being homeschooled, and also tutors with a group of high school students.

During “Abby’s Aussie Adven-ture,” she and a group of 38 students and five adults flew to Sydney in a 15-hour flight, departing America on June 17 and returning on July 6.

Her show opened with her pictures of the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbor Bridge.

“Sydney is a beautiful city,” she said. “We drove around Sydney the first day.” Among her pictures were views of the elegant inside of the Sydney Opera House. She described the huge pipe organ there as having more than 2,000 pipes, with the smallest being the size of the first joint of her little finger and the largest being more than two stories tall.

For dinner, she had an opportunity to try kangaroo steak. “It’s not my favorite, but it was OK,” she said.

The second day found the group rappelling down a cliff face with ropes and safety equipment. “It was really, really scary,” she remembered. Later, they attended an aboriginal dance performance, which she enjoyed.

Day Three saw the teens surfing at Bondi Beach, “the most famous beach in Australia.” She said it was very beautiful. “The water was warmer than the outside air.”

In subsequent days, the students stayed two days with host families in Newcastle. Her host family ran a ranch, where she helped with the chores. “I could not have asked for a better host family — they were really welcoming,” she said. “I got to try to crack a whip in an open field. I only got two little teeny cracks out of it.

One adventure involved petting and holding a koala. “Their hair is really coarse. It was not what I expected.” Another day, when the group visited a crocodile farm, she held a baby crocodile. Later the group had dinner there, which included crocodile chowder. On another occasion, she got to pet a kangaroo.

One night the group slept on the floor of a glass tunnel through an enormous aquarium, so they could see the fish and sharks swimming overhead. Another trip introduced them to the Capricorn Caves, which have church pews inside one area. Church services and sometimes wedding services are held there.

“They shut off all the lights and played music in total darkness. It was amazing,” she said.

A skyrail took the group over a rainforest for an eagle-eye view. “It was really big, with a huge waterfall,” said Abby.

The highest point of the trip was snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef. “We got to swim forever! We saw a sea turtle and took underwater pictures. We went on a boat to several different locations,” she said. “I got to see all these marine animals.”

The students celebrated the American holiday of July 4 in Australia, challenging one another to see who could dress up in the most patriotic fashion. She included photos of her new friends, who came from many locations in the U.S.

“I was expecting a culture shock but I never got one. The light switches were different and the people were a lot more polite, but otherwise Australian culture is very similar to ours,” she noted.

“It was a great trip and yes, definitely, I would like to go back.” Abby thanked the Exchange Club for helping her get to Australia for the adventure of a lifetime.

Story First Published: 2013-09-18