Taking a Study Break

Hello all, I would like to apologize for the lack of posts the past couple weeks but things have been increasingly busy here at Wollongong. We had two weeks of midterms, full of time in the field and hours in the computer lab. When I wasn’t busy at Uni, I was home studying or participating in Australia’s relay for life. I find my school work difficult, but also interesting which is nice! I am constantly learning new things and see many doors opening for the future… But, I know you all would rather hear about mid-session break and what it’s like in other parts of Australia.

We began our week long break by visiting the Gold Coast, noted for its nightlife and beautiful beaches. We received some pretty bad weather while there, but this gave us the opportunity to talk to people in our hostel and make friends from all over the world. This year the Uni Games were also being hosted in the Gold Coast, meaning there were about 8000 athletes visiting for the week to compete in sports ranging from footie to beach volleyball to bowling. The atmosphere very much reminded me of the Scare Games from Monster University. The city was fun, but I was happy to move on to the more slow paced town of Cairns.

Cairns is a primo spot for visiting the Great Barrier Reef as well as the surrounding rainforest. We went on hikes

The friendly cassowary
The friendly cassowary

and saw many iconic Australian waterfalls, one that was recently featured in an Herbal Essences commercial! Most excitingly for me, I was able to feed a cassowary at a bird sanctuary, which is this really amazing bird that literally looks like a dinosaur. Everyone seems to be terrified of them in Australia, but the two at the sanctuary very gently took fruit from my hand and were clearly taking care not to bite my fingers! We also saw a platapus in the wild and spotted a tree full of flying foxes which squeaked at us as we watched them fight over tree branches! Overall, the wildlife we saw inland was amazing!

giant clam while out snorkeling
giant clam while out snorkeling

But what about the Great Barrier Reef you ask? Once again, we were

struck down by weather, with the waves being so big that most tours got cancelled and the ones that were not had extremely low visibility. All in all, not a great time to visit the outer reef. We did however visit an island where we could snorkel off the edge and view some of the inner reef. Unfortunately, it was mostly destroyed due to the carelessness of the previous owners of the island. It was basically a wasteland of broken and bleached coral. After swimming pretty far out to sea, Shelbey and I were able to spot some living coral and almost immediately heaps of different fish and creatures appeared, clearly indicating the importance of the reef in maintaining biodiversity. Here we swam with three sea turtles and dove down deep to view giant clams hiding in the coral beds.

 

the most iconic waterfall in Australia
visiting the most iconic waterfall in Australia

Now I am back to work at Uni, studying hard because exams are in just a month. I cannot believe that I am already so close to the end of my trip, but there are still so many exciting things to happen before I go! This weekend we have a camping trip, followed by a trip to Melbourne and then some time spent in New Zealand. I know my final days in the southern hemisphere will be amazing!

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