Leaving Australia: The Longest Day Ever
By Loren Butler
Today ended our two-week journey “Down Under.” It was a day of mixed feelings about leaving Australia. For me, I was extremely happy to be going home and sleeping in my own bed. I couldn’t wait. After about day seven, I was starting to feel a little homesick anyway. I woke up excited about leaving and packed my things. We checked out of the hotel and headed to brunch. It was the most beautiful day we had seen in Australia. The sun was shining and not a cloud in the sky. There was the perfect breeze so you didn’t get too hot. All of this made me a little sad considering we had rain 11 out of the 14 days we were there. After brunch, we had some time before heading to the airport. My roommate and I decided to walk along the water and enjoy the beautiful scenery of Cairns. Read more
By John Gary
Throughout the trip through Tjapukai I could not help but notice all the similarities between their creation story and that of all other religions. It seems that some characteristics are universal. Watching their creation story was definitely a highlight of the trip through their sanctuary. It was interesting to hear everyone’s opinions on the story. Read more
By Tori Ingerson
Queensland University was an impressive campus as you enter. The grounds were beautifully kept and there were winding walkways as we headed to the large open grass area. Nothing was as impressive as the large sandstone blocks that the school was made of. They stood three stories high and each had their own unique hue and texture that came together masterfully. Colors of yellow and orange ruled most of the blocks with swirls of purple and red spotted around the courtyard. We lined up for a photo in the grass. The females were very attentive. The photographer was prettier than all of us. No problems smiling at him.
We finished and walked into a ground level classroom. We were met by a middle-aged woman that was very friendly. I struggled to listen but she greeted us with a welcome presentation. Oddly it was a welcome to Australia, not just Brisbane. Since we had already been there a week, most of us had realized they drive on the opposite side of the road but she made sure to emphasize this. The presentation was short and had little to do with the city however we did get to learn about the University and its’ history. We are spoiled in America having so many Ivy League schools, the significance of the school was slightly lost on me until it was further explained.
The student body was mixed. There were many people of different races. There seems to be a large Asian presence everywhere in Australia. Some students were dressed in business casual, some seemed to have a uniform of some sort. Many of the young ladies had the same skirt and blazer on, perhaps it’s a cultural thing. Very few students were in jeans and tee shirts but there were some speckled throughout. The campus seemed very large although the vegetation made it feel homey and not so much like an institution.
By Josh Hutchinson
Growing up accompanying my grandfather on trips along the old railway line where he worked, I was not unfamiliar with their workings and capability to surprise even the most well-traveled guest. However, the historic Kuranda Railway has a charm rarely seen on tracks elsewhere in the world.
Snaking its way through the Macalister Range, this 23-mile track passes several waterfalls and crosses 55 bridges providing breathtaking views throughout. Upon boarding the train, I was impressed with the rustic feel of the carriage. Red leather seats in rows of 4 awaited us with space for up to 40 passengers per carriage. As the friendly voice tape reminded us, the carriages have all recently been restored in order to retain their original look and feel.
After several initial squabbles over who was to secure a prized window seat, the train slowly pulled away from the historic Kuranda Railway Station to make its steady way towards Cairns via Freshwater and also a quick stop at Barron Falls for photo opportunities. Aside from the obvious scenic views, the train provides an interesting glimpse into the lives of the over 1500 workers who toiled away in the baking heat in order to make the railway a reality. Read more
The Great Barrier Reef
By Catherine Clark
A brief, brisk walk down to the docks and before I knew it, we were boarding a magnificent sailboat that would take us to the small sandy island of Michaelmas Quay. After about an hour of windy, rocky sailing, we arrived at our destination. The water was as clear as glass, filled with fish and sea creatures of all kinds. The day ahead was full of fun opportunities to explore the miraculous ecosystem right below our feet. Read more
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
By Elise Karriker
Today was a day of dreams come true. I got up-close and personal with kangaroos that roamed freely; got to hold a cute, cuddly koala; and saw a baby kangaroo in its mother’s pouch. Truly, my ‘bucket list’ just took a triple hit! When we arrived at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, the anticipation was real. So real. I couldn’t wait to hold, and get my picture taken with, a koala. I’ve always loved koalas and thought that they were so cute. With their calm and deliberate ways, they remind me of my favorite animal, the sloth. To set the stage for our visit, we heard a brief lecture from the general manager about Lone Pine and some of its marketing and other business strategies. It was so interesting how little the nonprofit spends on marketing each year, yet it continues to grow steadily, as does its customer base. Lone Pine simply lets its guests do the marketing with their pictures and reviews, and this approach is obviously working. I mean, koala pictures are a pretty great marketing tool! Even more, I am proof of the contagious enthusiasm generated by the experiences the sanctuary offers. After the lecture, we walked further into the zoo and to the first exhibit: the koala exhibit. I went immediately to the store and got my photo pass as fast as I could, then got in line to hold one of these adorable creatures. Finally, it was my turn. I held a koala. She was soft and cuddly, and I felt like “Cordelia” was giving me a hug. Even though I was filled with such joy, I had to work to contain my excitement so I wouldn’t frighten this sweet Aussie ambassador. Read more
Brisbane’s XXXX Brewery
By Tony Brienza
It was a long, fun day, in Brisbane, Australia. It was the first day without rain and we started it with a few presentations at the University of Queensland and then went to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. Towards the end of the day, we boarded the bus and began the trip to XXXX Brewery. The outside of the factory was amazing and had a large billboard of the famous Mr. Fourex. We walked inside and the tour officially began.
We walked into a room, put on a safety vest, and began to watch a video about the history of beer. After that, we moved to a big theatre and another video played about the 135 years of history at XXXX. Beer was originally labeled by X’s and they decided to keep that as their name. We were warned by our funny tour guy that told us no photos were allowed in the factory and then began to walk up the stairs into the brewery where we took the steps of brewing beer and the ingredients used. We even got to taste some of the barley used in their beer. Read more
By Jon Thompson
June 13th started just as our previous days here have started, with rain pouring from the clouds over the east coast of Australia. We are convinced that the storm is following us on our journey up north to Cairns as well, but hopefully, positive thoughts will help us conclude this trip with some good weather.
Through the rain and clouds, we journeyed an hour and a half to Beerwah, Queensland where we were entertained by mellow Kangaroos, lazy Tigers, leaping Crocodiles and many more at the Australia Zoo. As a kid, I idolized Steve Irwin’s passion for animals and adventure. Being able to visit his zoo and see the impact that he’s left on the employees and his family was incredible. The crocodile hunter died almost 11 years ago and today his family, the Australia Zoo, and the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve still carry out his legacy and research every day. When people visit the Australia Zoo or the SIWR, they are funding conservation projects that protect many species including crocodiles, tigers, wombats, elephants and cheetah. June 13th was a free day with the option to pay extra to go to the zoo, but growing up a huge crocodile hunter fan and knowing the amazing things that the Irwin family does for animals across the world, going to the zoo was a no-brainer for me. Read more
Free Day in Brisbane
By Rachel Deena
On the first free day in Brisbane me, along with my classmates were disappointed to find that the rain that had stayed with us throughout Sydney had followed us to Brisbane. Our plans for an adventurous hike through Mt. Coot-Tha was fading with each hour of rain past. Luckily the afternoon brought wonderfully warm sunny weather that we had all been missing since we departed our sunny summer North Carolina. A couple of students and I jumped on this opportunity and made our way to the trail. With each twist and turn up the mountain I was nervous that we would never reach the showers of the waterfall. The impatience was beginning to wear me thin and the only thing that kept me calm was the constant breathtaking views. Read more
First Impressions of Brisbane
By Kevin Poulin
Today was our first day in Brisbane, my first impression of Brisbane started off when we left the airport and got on the bus and I noticed that this bus was a lot nicer than our first bus in Sydney. The seats were much bigger with more room and were more comfortable. As we started driving around the city I noticed that there was a lot of smaller houses right outside of the city and the surrounding areas had a lot more green space than Sydney. At first it looked like the city only had a few tall buildings compared to Sydney which had tons of tall buildings. Once we got in to the city it was obvious that all the buildings were very tall and there was just a few that were taller than the rest. My first observation was only because we were so far away from the city. As we made our way to our first stop in Brisbane to the mountain top we passed many lush trees going up the mountain and passed a rock quarry on the left-hand side. Read more