So for spring break I went to Cairns (pronounced ‘cans’). Cairns is famous for a couple of things. The first being that it’s very close to the rainforest and the second being that it’s one of the best places to go see the Great Barrier Reef. I saw both. :)
Cairns is in north Queensland (Brisbane is also in Queensland) close to both the beach and tablelands where the rainforest is. On the first day in Cairns we walked around the city and went touristy shopping. The city is nothing like cities I’ve really been in before because the term city is kind of a stretch. It’s a small city that relies heavily on tourism for the economy.
On our second day in Cairns we went to the Great Barrier Reef. I got to scuba and snorkel. Scubaing is a strange experience. You are very aware of your breathing because it’s all you can hear. They also tell you beforehand that you must never hold your breath while scubaing or your lungs may explode. That is a terrifying thought. So for the first five minutes I had to get used to being able to breathe under water and control my breathing to slow even breaths. After I got the hang of it I was an okay scuba diver. I kept floating up not realizing that I never stopped kicking my feet when I was upright in the water. Our instructor had to grab on to me sometimes to make sure I stayed down. But it was worth it because I saw a giant clam, I held a sea cucumber, and saw Nemo! (I tried to upload the pictures here but the files are too large. I can email them to anyone who wants to see, or they’ll be on Facebook at some point in the next few days).
I liked snorkeling more than scubaing because I felt like I could breathe easier. I also saw a lot more when I snorkeled. I saw a reef shark, parrot fish, a huge school of black fish, and a lot of the coral up close. I saw so many kinds of fish that I don’t know the name of. The water was about room temperature, and was lovely. I’m getting spoiled here with warm water and weather and I don’t know what I’m going to do when I get back to OCNJ. The boat ride was rough to and from Cairns. A lot of people got seasick including a couple of my friends, but thankfully I did not!
The next day we did a waterfall tour through part of the rainforest. It rained heaps on us! At the end of the day my shoes were completely soaked. We also encountered leeches that day. The leeches we got on us were tiny, but I’ve seen bigger ones. I got one on me and then became paranoid for the rest of the day that there would be leeches on me. Our tour guide, Peter, was a stereotypical Australian man who said, “no worries” too many times to count. Here are some pictures of the waterfalls:
On our fourth day in Cairns we went to Cape Tribulation and the rainforest. Cape Tribulation is named by Captain Cooke who named a lot of Australian landmarks, but he named this one after his ship had run into a rock and was slowly sinking. Cape Tribulation backs up onto Mount Sorrow and other sad landmarks. On the way to the cape we did a guided rainforest walk and saw a lot of cool plants and insects. I saw a couple giant spiders and refrained from taking photos so I would forget them immediately, but if you want to see Google Golden Orb Spider. A couple cool things I saw were fan trees, where the leaves look like fans. A beetle that looks like a jewel, and tree that grows around other trees.
The gap in the bark is where the old tree used to be.
We spent the night at Cape Tribulation and went to the beach. We were not allowed to swim because the box jellyfish (one of the most deadly animals in the world) were still in the water. If you get a meter and a half of one of its tentacles around you, you will die in less than ten minutes. Needless to say we stayed away from the water. There was coral washed up on the beach which looked really cool. And you could see all of the rainforest surrounding the beach.
On the way home from the cape the next day we did a river cruise on the Daintree River. And we saw crocodiles! These are baby crocodiles (1-3 years old). They live about the same lifespan as humans. They grow up to 4 or 5 meters and maybe more, no one is completely sure. They’re saltwater crocodiles (salties) but they can also go in fresh water. They are also man eaters, and if provoked will kill you.
Can you see him?
We flew back to Brisbane the next day. I loved Cairns but I was happy to be back in Brisbane. Tomorrow (Thursday) I am going to Melbourne until Sunday! I’m very excited and have been told that Melbourne is completely different from other cities in Australia. We’re also going to drive the Great Ocean Road and see the 12 Apostles. The 12 Apostles are rock formations in the ocean that are supposed to be breathtaking. I am very excited to see them! I’ll post again when I get back!
That is me shortly after I jumped out a plane!
But back to the beginning! So Byron Bay is about two hours south of Brisbane in New South Wales. It’s a beautiful coastal town that is the most eastern point in Australia. On the way to Byron we stopped at a hippy town called Nimbin that seemed to be stuck in the 1970s. When we finally got to Byron we went to the light house as the sun was setting. It was absolutely beautiful.
On Saturday we went kayaking on the ocean. As you all know, I have never kayaked before and have a pitiful amount of arm strength. It was windy and some of the waves were rough but Kaitlyn (the other girl in the kayak) and I did not capsize! I call that a win. Before we started kayaking we were told that there was a good chance that we would see dolphins, and they were right. We saw so many dolphins that got within 30 feet of our kayaks. They were jumping out of the water and waves showing off for all of us. The guides said that this was the best day they had for dolphins all season.
Sadly I cannot take credit for these photos. None of us brought cameras in the kayaks out of fear that they were be water damaged. Thankfully the guides took photos with waterproof cameras and put them online for all of us to see.
On Sunday we woke up very early to go skydiving. 10 of us decided to sky dive and the first load was supposed to go up at 7 am but there was a lot of cloud coverage. We had to wait about two hours before the first load of people went up, but it was completely worth it. My friend, Kaitlyn, was the first one to sky dive and she said it was the greatest thing she had ever done. This helped ease any nerves that I had before going up.
While on the plane ascending we saw beautiful Byron Bay and Australian country side. I was pretty quiet on the flight up and my tandem guy, Wayne, thought I was a little strange for being so quiet. When it was our turn to jump (from 14,000 ft), I started to become really nervous, but I didn’t have time to dwell on it. The way you fall from the plane is you stick your feet out and curl them under the plane, fold your arms up and tilt your head up, then you flip out of the plane. For the first five or ten seconds I screamed, but then the adrenaline hit. I free fell for about 60 seconds before the parachute was pulled. Free falling is one of the best feelings ever, it is pure adrenaline. Once you’re falling, there’s no more fear only excitement and adrenaline. Byron was beautiful from above!
When I got to the ground I wanted to go again because it was such an amazing experience. I loved everything about Byron it was beautiful! Enjoy the pictures!
Did you know that Sydney gets about 280 days of sun annually? So if you go it’s more than likely going to be sunny. Sadly when I was there the minority of rainy days decided to make an appearance. It rained on Friday and Saturday while I was in Sydney. Thankfully Sunday was beautiful.
Friday was a rainy and cold (yes believe it or not cold) day. It was so bad that we stopped at a cheap market and everyone bought sweatshirts and umbrellas before we started a two-three hour walking tour around the city. On the walking tour we went to the cliffs on the other side of one of the harbors, the botanical garden (where we saw sleeping bats!),the shopping district,war memorials, the art museum, and ended up at Sydney harbor to see the opera house.
On Friday night we did a pub crawl around some of the oldest and most fun pubs in Sydney.
On Saturday we did a walking tour of many of the beaches of Sydney. Thankfully it only rained off and on that morning before a torrential downpour that afternoon and night. We also go to walk along the cliffs of the beaches getting spectacular views of the ocean and rock formations. The last photo is of Bondi Beach which is one of the most famous beach in Sydney. It even has it’s own show Bondi Rescue about the lifeguards, which my roommates and I watch every Monday.
On Sunday it was beautiful for a change. I did an Opera House tour and got to see three of the theaters (it holds 4) including the ballet and opera theaters. I also learned some interesting facts, like the glass expands with the heat of the day and that the designer of the opera house never saw it completed because of rift with the government about funding. Sadly we were not allowed to take pictures of the actual theaters but there was a beautiful view of the Harbor Bridge from one of the entrances to the Opera House.
For the rest of the day on Sunday I hung out around the harbor with friends before getting on the plane back to lovely Brisbane!
School is starting to become more work with assignments due dates coming up. But there is still fun to be had! This weekend I’m going to Byron Bay which is where I’ll get to kayak with dolphins and sky dive! I’m very excited to go there. I also just booked a trip to go to Melbourne with two of my roommates and we’re going to take a tour of the Great Ocean Road and see the 12 Apostles. Finally, I’m planning on going to Cairns for spring break to see the Great Barrier Reef!
I hope everyone is doing well at home! Cheers!
So I haven’t posted in awhile! But in my defense I’ve been busy exploring the city and completing my first week of classes!
So last week was orientation week (O-Week), and all of the freshman (freshers) and exchange students became acquainted with the campus and how the class schedules work. The campus is huge, and I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to navigate it expertly, but my tour guide said that there are 3rd year (seniors) who still don’t know where some buildings are.
During O-Week, Dickinson payed for a trip to the Fourex also known as XXXX Brewery. There we did a tour and got to taste some of the beers. What I learned is that unless you’re very interested in beer, brewery tours are a little boring, but getting beer on Dickinson’s dime is always fun! The way that beers are classified in Australia is different than the U.S. For example, a light beer in the U.S. has less calories, but in Aussie it means it doesn’t have as much alcohol in it. A full beer has the full amount of alcohol. I tried the Summer Fourex beer and it was pretty good considering beer is not my first choice of drink. There was also a pale ale that tasted fruity, which I was not expecting.
On Monday I started classes at uni. I’m taking Anatomy of a Superpower: U.S. History from 1945 to present, The Foundations of Europe 1200-1800, Australian History, and World Religions. The way that the classes are scheduled is that I have one lecture for each of these classes and then a tutorial (tute) for each class. The lecture is and hour and fifty minutes whereas the tute is only fifty minutes. Dickinson’s classes are either fifty minutes or an hour and fifteen minutes depending on how many times a week you have it so it may be a struggle to sit through the lecture!
So far I like my classes, they aren’t nearly as intense as Dickinson classes, so it will be nice to have a quick break before jumping into my senior seminar and student teaching next year. I think my favorites so far are the U.S. history class (and I’m not the only American in it!) and world religions. The best part of my classes is that I only have class three days a week! Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday then a FOUR day weekend!
So I turned 21 yesterday! Sadly it was not the bash that I wanted. Dickinson got us tickets to see a play, “Summer of the Seventeenth Doll” which was very sad, very long, and not very good. So by the time I got out of there it was too late to get into a lot of places and get up for class today. Thankfully, I’m going to Sydney this weekend with the Dickinson group so I told my friends that we will be celebrating my birthday there.
By Monday I’ll have much more to post and fun pictures to go along with it! Til then I’ll leave you with a picture of a Kookaburra and the Brisbane River!
One of my roommates made this for her tumblr! So I thought I’d post it here. This is on the way to South Bank. South Bank is across the Brisbane River from the actual city of Brisbane. There is a man made lagoon/beach area which is really nice. There are also a lot of shops and restaurants. It is also home to the cheapest movie theater I’ve been to in awhile. We went to see The Vow and it was 5.50 for the ticket! We were on a ferry and this is the city lit up.
YES! That is me holding a koala! At the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary you can hold a koala and get your picture taken with it. You can also feed kangaroos and wallabies! That is me and a wallaby! Also at the Lone Pine Sanctuary are wombats (which are ugly), dingos, kookaburras, platypuses, emus, and many other birds, snakes, and reptiles! This will probably be a highlight of the trip because I knew that when I came to Australia one of the big things I wanted to do was hold a koala, so life dream accomplished!
The other two pictures are of Brisbane. Brisbane is a beautiful city, and different from American cities because it is so clean! It’s relatively easy to navigate and most importantly I remember the bus number that takes me home! You can get to the city by ferry or bus, I’ve done both and I think my favorite is by ferry.
Today (Friday 2/17) the rest of my roommates arrived and I’m excited to get to know them and hang out. I have figured out my class schedule and only have classes three days a week (Monday through Wednesday) which is very exciting! I don’t think I’ll be able to switch back to Dickinson’s class schedule.
The one thing about Australia that’s not so fun is the spiders! There are huge spiders here and they are terrifying! There has been one really big one in my apartment that a repair man killed for us. But apparently it’s the small, black ones that I should be looking out for because they are poisonous! But thankfully even if they bite me I’ll only get sick. Hopefully I don’t see too many giant spiders!
Orientation for the college starts on Monday, but until then I’m going to take it easy and try and shake this jetlag! I’ve been going to bed really early and waking up really early. Hopefully by the time that classes start I’ll be fully functioning once again!
Today was exhausting. So exhausting that I’m sitting in bed at 8:45 thinking about going to sleep now! I saw the UQ campus for the first time and went into Toowong Village where there is a lot of shopping areas. Sadly, already I’m a little sunburnt! I have to remember to put sunscreen on.
Australia is beautiful. Brisbane is right on the Brisbane River and you can take a ferry into the city. I’ll be exploring Brisbane more in the next few days before most of the student body arrives.
I have my own room, it’s a little small but it’s mine. Only the other girl from Dickinson is here with me now. The other girls will becoming in a few days and I’m excited to meet them.
Tomorrow we are going on a tour of the city so hopefully I’ll have some lovely photos to post then!