By Len Roberts:
40 years ago we could only afford to go to the Gold Coast.
However, going to Hawaii today is similar cost as going to the Gold Coast.
The changes in technology and tourism incentives have brought the rest of the world closer.
It is good to observe the different attitudes and rationale of people in other countries.
Hawaii boasts of beautiful beaches and they are a huge drawcard and well marketed, but have nothing on our beaches.
Even their sand is imported from Australia. Waikiki, which is the best known beach was man made from swamp land and the sand was from Kurnell and Stockton.
Perhaps there is a market for our very own dredged sand from the Myall!
The water is warm and the climate exceptional all year round, but seasonally there are cyclones and occasional volcanic eruptions. We just have a cold winter.
In building our houses we need to be mindful of the flood levels and need to make sure our floor levels are above the 1 in 100 flood level.
Places such as Grafton, Brisbane and towns on the Hunter River flood regularly but that pales to insignificance when you are on high ground in Hawaii and see signs indicating tsunami evacuation area.
The Americans have an extremely high respect for their military personnel, both serving and retired.
It is not unusual before the start of concerts and events for the compere to ask for all defence and first responder personnel to stand whilst the audience applauds them for their work.
Yet at the same time there are so many homeless (some proudly displaying signs Vietnam vets) begging on the streets.
Many of these homeless were bundled up from the mainland states and flown to Hawaii to live on the streets.
The rationale from the mainland state and city governments was that it was better to send them to Hawaii than die on the streets during winter.
Hawaii used to have cattle, sugar cane and pineapples as their main industries.
Today it is tourism, defence personnel payroll and coffee. Cost of housing, petrol and food is high.
A similar house in Tea Gardens for $500k would be $1.5m in Hawaii. Most people rent. Prestige cars abound and 80% are owned by non-homeowners.
The Hawaiian flag is the only U.S. state flag to feature the Union Jack of the United Kingdom, a remnant of the period in Hawaiian history when it was associated with the British Empire.
It is good to holiday overseas and Hawaii is indeed a wonderful place and well worth a return visit, however, overseas travel really places into perspective how great home is and what a blessed life we have.