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.
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.
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.
Today we went to the City Botanical Gardens, located in the heart of Brisbane, Australia. The purpose of this activity was to become more familiar with the local vegetation before we leave for the forests of Lamington National Park. The Gardens did feature some flowers, as we might expect from a garden, but trees were most prominent. We walked along the paths sketching enormous fig trees covered in vines, slender and papery Eucalyptus, and even exotic species like the sausage tree which produced hanging fruits that look like large potatoes.
I have never before done any traveling down to the Southern Hemisphere, but the weather here has definitely made a positive impact on me compared to the snow that is to found back in good ole' Idaho. Our first day here, we got off the train from the Brisbane Airport and walked the four blocks to a hostel that we will be staying in until the Monday morning of January 7th. Known as the Explorer's Club, I found it an appropriate name for the overall purpose of our trip.