Our journey to this beautiful country started over a year ago with our applications and hopes that we would be chosen to join the group for the journey of a life time. We worked through saving up money, planning our journey, and packing all the things that we could possibly need while in a rainforest and on the Great Barrier Reef. We studied the poisonous and dangerous plants and animals, making sure that we knew all the things in Australia that could kill us (AKA everything). Though we thought we were prepared, nothing could have readied us for our experience here.
The number of snorkelers drop like flies today. Yes, the wind and rain picked up over night and the water looks choppy, but a little rain never hurt anyone. Well, that's what six of us (a.k.a Team Adventure) think….until the boat ride.
Disney has some pretty good logic – life is better under the sea! There’s so much life to observe living underneath the clear water encapsulating the Great Barrier Reef. Without stepping foot in the water you can encounter stingrays, sharks, turtles, dolphins, and a variety of birds that add so much to the atmosphere (mainly, their nonstop chatter and guano). But when you take one peak under the surface, you find a world unimaginable, and much of it is unknown.
By this point in the blog we’ve established several things. First, yes, it is hard for C of I (or Idaho for that matter) to beat a “winter experience” of being on a remote island in the Great Barrier Reef. In fact, I’d take suffering through 30 minutes of lecture in an extremely air conditioned classroom on an island any day over a regular lecture at home (Note: Dr. Mark Gunderson’s lecture last longer than the scheduled 30 minute period so we’re not getting off that easily).
It is our fourth day on Heron Island and I still can’t get over how amazing it is. There are beautiful sandy beaches and the water is so perfectly blue. The island is only about a mile around, but there is plenty to see! On the island, there are trees and birds everywhere. In the daytime, it is a beautiful sound…but when nighttime rolls around and the shearwaters move in, the air is filled with sounds that resemble a combination of small children whining and wolves howling. Seriously. They make these awful sounds all night and wake you up at the crack of dawn!
I think we have arrived in paradise. Literally, that is what I thought when I stepped off the catamaran and onto the dock of Heron Island yesterday afternoon. I am sure my classmates felt the same way. If the two hour boat ride with views of sea turtles, jellies, and sea birds wasn't enough to get environmental science and biology students excited, then the first snorkel within hours of arriving most definitely was.
We boarded the bus at 8:00 a.m. and began down the road. Yesterday the bus got stuck in the sand, but it rained during the night. This should make the roads firmer, but I could still bury my feet in them very easily. The bus was barreling along blasting songs by Taylor Swift and other artists I will not name. While many of our ears were bleeding, we were also bounced up and down and rocked around. Imagine four-wheeling in a great big bus. Our driver, Lee, is a young fellow who has been working as a tour guide on Fraser for about a month.
When my fellow classmates and I arrived at Lamington National Park we had no idea what was in store for us. We stepped off the bus and realized that we were no longer in the comforts of the city. The singing of birds and the dense forest looked promising for an adventure and an experience that would last a life time. Within the first 20 minutes, we spotted brush turkeys, skinks, and a carpet python. We were all excited to begin filming and start snapping pictures. A couple of groups hiked different trails hoping to catch amazing footage of Australia’s wildlife.
Today, we reached the first hard work day of our Australia trip. We all want to go on longer hikes for our last day in Lamington, but our documentaries are due soon which made us buckle down. Although this limited the excitement of the day, we are looking forward to tomorrow. My group and another group that was unable to go on the hike to Coomera Falls earlier in the week will be completing the 20K (about 12.5 miles) trek. While there, we hope to see creatures like the spiny crayfish and lace monitor lizards.