During May of 2018 I had the opportunity to travel to Australia on a program called Human Impacts on the Natural Environment. We left on May 7 and arrived to Australia on May 9, the flight from Los Angeles, California to Brisbane, Australia was around 13-14 hours. We then flew to Townsville where we spent the first part of our trip. Australia is fourteen hours ahead of Ohio so it took some time to recover from major jet lag.
The entire trip was focused on the environment and how Australia maintains a sustainable lifestyle. During our first week in Hidden Valley we were in the rainforest area where we learned about the history of the country and identified flora and fauna. We also spent a day learning about the aboriginals culture at Mungulla Station. We swam in Running River Gorge and hiked to Wallaman Falls, the largest sheer drop waterfall in Australia.
We spent one day in the aquarium in Townsville where we snorkeled and visited a sea turtle rehabilitation center. We then traveled to Magnetic Island where we did a research project on the Koloa population and saw these animals in the wild. They are endemic to Australia, meaning they are only found in this country. We even got to hold one! We also saw other wildlife on the island such as lorikeets and parrots. We also participated in a reef restoration project where we looked at how changing temperatures impacts the plants and life in the ocean.
Our next stop was Mission Beach where we had a free day to sleep in and explore the area. My favorite part of our stay here was when you walked to the beach you had to follow a path through the rainforest first. We weren’t able to swim in the ocean because it was Crocodile season!
Due to the location and size of the country the seasons and weather and very different than the United States during the month of May. This is there fall/winter seasons. For the majority of the trip we were in Northern Queensland where the temperature was in the high 70’s to 80’s. Although near the end of the trip 11 of us traveled to Sydney, which is in the southern part, where the weather was in the low 50’s. I didn’t realize that their weather could be so cold. In some areas in the winter months it will snow near the southern part near Melbourne.
We had the chance to experience the outback while we stayed in Chillagoe. We swam in a local spring fed creek, toured a cave, and learned about why the soil is red as well as how they manage the land with the air and soil being so dry. We also looked into the process of mining. My favorite part of staying in the outback was experiencing the sunsets every evening.
The next section of our trip focused on farming in Australia, with this we had the opportunity to stay with a host family in the Atherton Tablelands. My host family lived on a beef farm. We toured the farm and learned how they manage their farmland with portions of the rainforest being on their property. We also saw a 20 foot python! The family has to watch their livestock and dogs to ensure the snakes do not harm or attack these animals. We also had the chance to make fresh squeezed orange juice. Spending time with the family we learned about their culture and daily life. Much of their lifestyle is similar to Great Britain as they are part of the commonwealth.
We then traveled to Port Douglas where we learned all about the Great Barrier Reef! We had a day to learn about the zoning system that is put into place for businesses and recreational purposes. We also learned how to identify fish and coral species. We spent three days snorkeling on the reef learning all about the impacts humans have on ocean life. We had the chance to see clownfish, sharks, and sea turtles. During our last morning in Port Douglas we did a beach clean-up where we learned about the impacts plastic are having on ocean life.
Also, while in Port Douglas we went to a Wildlife Habitat where we had the chance to see some animals up close. We saw kangaroos, pelicans, crocodiles, and wallabys. My favorite was the cassowary. These are flightless birds similar to what would have been dinosaur species!
We spent our last day as a full group in Cairns where we were able to explore the city after we took our final. We went to the mall and walked on the board walk. This is where part of the group flew home and part of us flew to Sydney for about a day and a half.
While in Sydney the light show Vivid was going on. The whole city is lit up with bright lights and shows and activities. We had the chance to see Sydney Harbor Bridge, the Sydney Opera House. It was really fun to just explore and see the city. We went shopping in some of the stores and saw the different parts of the city.
On the way back with all the time changes I lived June 8 for 41 hours! Through this trip I was able to learn more about the environment and ways to be more environmentally friendly. I also gain valuable friendships with people I wouldn’t have met if it wasn’t for this trip. I am so thankful for the adventures I had every day and won’t forget them anytime soon!