Posts Tagged ‘australia’

The Semester Comes to a Close

It’s crazy to say it, but my semester of classes abroad have officially ended.  I’m a little bit late making this post because I’ve been studying for my finals, but classes ended May 25th.  I’ve taken 3 finals out of 4, and so far, so good.  On the last day of class, the JCU International Office hosted a completion gathering for all the international students finishing their time here at JCU.  It kinda felt like graduation, with recieving certificates of attendence and some small gifts.  Following the ceremony, they had a little party.

Photo Credit Kristof Schrader Photography. Thanks for the great pictures!

They had a jazz trio, free food, and free drinks for all of us.  It was truly a great way to end a semester of classes.  I have to say, I am completely amazed that it’s already been a full semester.  It seemed as though it was just yesterday that I was getting off the plane in Townsville.

Jules and I at the Completion Gathering. Photo Credit Kristof Schrader.

I may be close to coming home (June 20th), but I still have plenty more to do.  Since we have a couple of days after finals before we leave, Jules and I decided to take another trip up to Cairns.  Since the weather wasn’t great when we were there in April, we’re hoping it will be better this time.  The weather has actually changed quite significantly, with the daily highs only reaching to about 75 or 80.  We’re out of the wet season, though, so hopefully the weather will be beautiful.  After Cairns, we’ll be back in Townsville for 2 days, but then it’s off to Sydney and home!

 

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Labor Day Weekend

So yeah I know, it may seem weird seeing a post about my Labor Day weekend in the middle of May, but things are a bit different here in Australia.  Either way, we still had off school on Monday, so I wasn’t complaining.  Since we had a bit of an extended weekend, Jules and I decided to be a bit spontaneous.

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The home of the North Queensland Cowboys

On Friday, we decided it was time to see our first Cowboy’s game.  For those of you not from Townsville, the Cowboy’s are North Queensland’s rugby league team.  The shuttles to get there were a bit of a hassle, but it was definitely worth it.  I’m not going to lie, these guys made NFL players look like a bunch of babies.  It was a great game, with the Cowboys beating the St. George Dragons 30-6.

The next day, we chose to once again visit Magnetic Island.  So Saturday morning, we hopped aboard the ferry and headed on over.  Saturday, we figured it would be best to just relax and enjoy the weather.  We climbed around on some boulders, did some swimming, and sat on the beach.  Overall, it was a great day.

The next day, we picked up some snorkeling gear and headed over to Arthur Bay.  Arthur Bay isn’t accessible by the main road, so it’s fairly secluded.

We grabbed one of the few other people there to take a picture for us.

Although there weren’t as many types of coral as compared to the Great Barrier Reef, the visibility here was a bit better since the weather was nice.

You can’t get much clearer than that!

Since we were on our own time, and had pretty much all day, we were free to see what we wanted to see.

Jules trying to poke some fish…

One of the fish I was creeping on

Aside from the occasional jellyfish sting, (of course on the one place we didn’t have covered, our faces)  it was amazing.

Some of my favorite fish

After a long day of snorkeling, we headed back to Geoffrey Bay to feed the Rock Wallabies.  I know I may have put up some pictures of these guys the last time I went to Magnetic Island, but I can’t resist including some more.

He’s smiling!

He was a keen little guy

Unfortunately, at the end of the day, we had to head back home for school.  Finals are quickly approaching, so I guess it’s probably time to start studying.  We’ll see if I have time for some adventures in between tests.

Our visit to Cairns

So it’s been a few weeks since I got back from Cairns, but I figured it’s better late than never to catch you up on my time.  When we got into Cairns around 6 am, we had some time before we were able to check in to our hostel.  Even though it was early, Cairns luckily has Sunday morning markets, with massive amounts of fresh produce.  After that, we had breakfast in a delicious little diner, and had the first coffee since coming to Australia that wasn’t instant (ahhhhhh).

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Pete and Paul's Breakfast Diner

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The hostel we stayed in.

When we finished breakfast and checked into our hostel, we were free to explore what Cairns had to offer.  I have to admit, when I saw the countless souvenir shops, my inner 8 year old got the best of me.  We also got chance to see the night markets, filled to the brim with small vendors and plenty of food.

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Nervously trying the baby octopus.

Later that day, we headed out to Palm Cove, one of Cairns’ Northern Beaches.  The weather wasn’t great, but we still enjoyed ourselves.  That night, we settled in early for bed because the next day, we would be snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef.

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Looking down the beach at Palm Cove

Early the next morning we headed to the Marina to get on our boat, the Ocean Free.  The Ocean Free is a 30 foot sailboat that gives a more personal touch to the reef experience.  Instead of going on a huge boat with 150 other snorkelers, we had a crew of 3 and 15 passengers.

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Our boat at the marina, looking small compared to the others

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Enjoying the water.

If you combine the amazing service, relaxing sail, and beautiful scenery, you have a recipe for a great day.  Although the weather wasn’t great (super windy and a bit rainy), the captain (and owner) ensured us that, “I can’t do anything about the weather, but I can make you have the best day in it.” If you ever make it to Cairns in your life, I’d highly recommend this company.

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Choppy water and all, sailing was so relaxing.

We sailed about 2 and a half hours out to Green Island, where we explored the island for an hour or so.  After lunch, it was time to snorkel.  The water was a bit choppy which cut down the visibility, but it was still beautiful.  It was definitely something I’ll never forget.

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Looking stylish in our stinger suits (protecting us from irukandji stings)

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On the shores of the coral cay, Green Island

The next day, we visited our second World Heritage Site in two days: the rainforests of North Queensland.  We hiked Mt. Whitfield, a conservation park just outside of Cairns.  Once again it was simply beautiful.  The type of scenery was just so different from anything I’d seen before.

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The rainforest!

Although we were only in Cairns for a short time, it was one of the most memorable three days of my life.

My Easter Adventure!

In the preparation for leaving for lecture recess, I nearly forgot to catch you all up on my Easter break travels.  After two days of failing to understand the public holiday bus schedule, Jules and I finally decided to jump on the ferry and go to Magnetic Island on Sunday.

The Magnetic Island ferry.

When we arrived, we settled into Foresthaven, a quiet little hostel in one of the less traveled bays.

Foresthaven Hostel

We then hopped on a bus (getting it right this time), to Bungalow Bay Koala Village.  We took a tour of the exhibits, and were able to hold crocodile, feed a cockatoo by letting it take a seed from my mouth, and see a wombat.  The highlight, of course, was seeing and petting a koala.

Petting Matilda the Koala

Holding Barbie the croc!

The night was topped off with a visit to Alma Bay, and a delicious meal at the cafe.

Alma Bay just after sunset.

The next morning, Jules and I woke up early to buy some lunch food at the grocery store (cheese quesadillas since we forgot a cooler for hot dogs) and called a scooter rental company.  After a crash course in scooter driving for Jules, we were off on our scooter adventure.  Along with the spectacular weather, we got to see the beautiful scenery Magnetic Island has to offer: sandy beaches, crystal clear water, and vivid plant life.

A view of Radical Bay

The island has a bunch of forts remaining from WWII, so we got the opportunity to visit some of these.  We also got to see some of the local wildlife, including a wild koala and Rock wallabies.

A little rock wallaby with a joey.

The wild koala we saw on the Forts walk.

The day was ended with a bit of a surprise.  As we were driving to one of the bays, we were pulled through a random DUI checkpoint, in our scooters.  We were all clear of course, but it was an interesting experience.  It must have been the intimidating helmets that tipped off the cops….

Our little moped gang.

Anyway, I’m heading off to Cairns now for lecture recess, where I’ll be hiking in the rainforest and snorkeling the reef.  Until then, g’day.

Don’t worry about the world coming to an end today. It is already tomorrow in Australia.

-Charles Schultz