I studied in Australia for about three weeks earlier this summer. In that time I learned that rubbish cans are smelly, koala’s are not cuddly or even friendly, and daggy means the crusty part on a sheep’s arse.
Traveling through the Communication Department at UW-Green Bay, 20 students, including myself, tackled the enormous country of Australia. I mean that literally too. As we were deplaning, one girl fell off the plane, down the stairs and crash landed on the Australian turf. No serious injuries occurred.
We landed in Sydney in the middle of the Australian winter. I would say it was about 60 degrees. I was not complaining. We were in Sydney for a week. Every day we spent exploring another part of the city. Enjoying small findings was the best part. Things like street vendors, entertainers and the lively culture of the Australians made the adventures ever so interesting.
Our big highlights in Sydney were none other than the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I did the climbing tour of the bridge, where I climbed to the very top. We were harnessed to the bridge the whole time and were engulfed with history of the bridge from our guide, Craig. It was breathtaking to view the city from a fun and different angle.
Our next stop was Katoomba, a small city in the Blue Mountains. On our drive we stopped by Featherdale Park, one of my favorite stops on the trip. My dreams came true here – at least the dream where I pet a kangaroo. We roamed around the petting zoo where we could touch, play and talk to the kangaroos and wallabies. I was running around like the paparazzi at the Grammy’s. I loved the kangaroos. This is also where I pet a koala and was saddened to find out koalas are not as friendly as I thought. They sure are cute though.
We stayed in the mountains for a few days. The Blue Mountains are one of God’s finest works. A soft, hazy blue color outlines the range and everywhere you look it is beautiful. While in the Blue Mountains I rode the steepest train in the world. My advice for the owners would be to get seat belts. We spent the time there hiking, relaxing and taking umpteen million photographs.
We traveled to Brisbane via shuttle bus, and flew from Brisbane to Cairns. During our one night in Brisbane I went to see the movie, Hangover 2. If you want to sit in a comfortable seat for a movie, go to Brisbane. The theaters are amazing. I considered my seat to be a Lazy Boy without the reclining ability.
After arriving in Cairns we drove to Port Douglas for a few days. This part of the country was more outdoorsy. Seeing a crocodile on the side of the road really put the “you are in Australia” in my head, along with the, “holy crud that is a crocodile!” We saw the Great Barrier Reef, another fantastic sight. I am not a big fan of fish, but it was enjoyable to see everyone in snorkeling gear with messy hair, goofy looking equipment on their faces and wet suits.
While in Port Douglas we stayed at the Port O’Call, a local hostel owned by a man named Steve. He really had a great insight on life. He shared his life perspective that as college students we really appreciated. Steve had wanted to be a dentist, but ended up working for a big company. He knew it was a good job but really didn’t like it. When he met his wife he knew that change was in order. He quit his job, and opened the hostel in the small town of Port Douglas. He is the owner, bus driver, receptionist, bartender, and maintenance man, or in other words a Steve of all trades. I never saw him without a smile on his face. My favorite quote from him was, “If you are giving your life and soul to work, do something you like.” That is just one small story of the interesting people we met along the way.
The rest of the trip we spent in Cairns. I went whitewater rafting with a hefty man named Marty. He threw us out of the raft to test our swimming skills. What a character. I also went skydiving. Yes. I paid money to be strapped to a stranger and jump out of a plane at 11,000 feet. Why? Because I could and it was awesome.
Traveling to Australia was a bucket list check-off. More than that, it was a piece of my life that will never be forgotten. The night sitting on the Jetty looking at the stars and feeling the wind blow through my hair? Unforgettable. Playing a didgeridoo? Extremely difficult. Sitting on the wrong side of the fence on the tip of a mountain to get a picture of the edge? Stupid but worth it. Watching the sunrise twice on the way home? Mind-blowing.
The entire trip was worth every penny and I highly suggest that if you are in college to study abroad somewhere. If you are not in college, I also highly recommend studying abroad somewhere. Life isn’t over until you’re dead – so it’s never too late to take a trip.