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Friends Across the Sea  (Newcastle)

(Reprint from News: April 7, 2002)

April 6, 2002


Last year, before I left my job with Parsons Brinckerhoff in Portland, I sent e-mails to about a dozen folks in PB offices throughout New Zealand and Australia asking if I could drop by their office if I happened to visit their respective city.  I just picked these names from a staff list and had never met any of them before.  As testament to the good will of Kiwis and Aussies, though, I received a nice reply from each... and some rather humorous replies, as well.  A fellow in Wellington, New Zealand wrote back suggesting that I stop in for some "chokky biscuits" (which I later translated to "chocolate cookies"), and a cheerful chap in the Sydney office filled his reply with all sorts of Aussie-isms, like "Gday, Mate!" (i.e., "Hello") and "Just give me a bell" (i.e., "Call me").  


To celebrate my last entry from Australia, here's my favorite Aussie singer, Kasey Chambers, once again. This is On a Bad Day.

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Over the following months, I exchanged several e-mails with a guy named Peter Horn who worked in the PB-Newcastle office in Australia.  From his e-mails, Peter seemed like a pleasant fellow and I was looking forward to meeting him if things worked out.


As I traveled through New Zealand and Australia, I'd only been able to meet with one PB person because of scheduling conflicts.  As I got closer to Newcastle, though, I kept in touch with Peter and it looked like a visit might work out.  He and his wife Helen even offered to put me up for a night or two, which I thought was exceptionally kind since he knew me only from reading my website.  Newcastle was just a few hours north of Sydney, so based on their kind invitation, I decided to spend my last weekend in Australia visiting the Horns before flying out of Sydney on Monday morning.


I drove into Newcastle Friday afternoon, found Peter's office and introduced myself.  Peter, as I had deduced from his e-mails, was an exceptionally nice guy and he gave me a tour of his office.  After work, I followed him out to his house in the country where I met his wife Helen, his dog Iva and Helen's cat.  Peter and Helen were both super hosts and unbelievably kind to this total stranger, and the next day they showed me around the beautiful rolling foothills of the Blue Mountains, one of the most scenic areas that I visited during my two months in Australia. 


Not only did Peter and Helen put me up for two nights, they fed me, entertained me, and even showed me the correct way to spread Vegemite on my crackers.  Getting to know Peter and Helen was one of the real highlights of my overseas trip, and I'm looking forward to seeing them again someday.


2-3344_Peter_and_Helen.jpg (42597 bytes)    2-3340_Driving_Back.jpg (44231 bytes)   

Above left:  Peter and Helen during an all-day tour of rolling hills near Newcastle.  Like just about all the Aussies I've met, Peter and Helen were exceptionally hospitable.  I wish Americans were a lot more like Aussies!

Above right:  Riding with Peter and Helen on the beautiful backroads north of Sydney.


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