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An Australian Adventure

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Posted: November 3, 2011

I woke on the morning of May 21st in a cold sweat. At that moment, it finally sunk in that I would be traveling as far away from Downingtown, Pennsylvania as possible with people that I hardly knew.
Canola Flowers

Canola Flowers

Unable to eat my bagel and cream cheese, I loaded my things into the car to head to the airport, unsure of what would lie ahead. Right then, I would have never guessed that this trip to Australia would be the experience of a lifetime and that these people I hardly knew would become some of my closest friends.

Canola for bioenergyIn the brochure, they neglect to mention the vast assortment of wildlife in Australia that can kill you. However, on the first day of lecture this was made ever-too-clear by the PowerPoint slide dedicated entirely to the subject. From that point on, the death adder snake was my worst fear. An hour and a half of life was allotted if bitten by one and not given the appropriate anti-venom, which, by the way, had to be flown in from the mainland. Even with that knowledge, two other girls on the trip and I decided to go on a hike from Horseshoe Bay to Balding Bay on Magnetic Island in search of koalas. The path we chose took us off of the trail and into the dead of the forest. There, we encountered giant spiders, three-foot lizards, but unfortunately, no koalas. We now refer to that hike as the “death hike”, due to the fact that we all thought we were going to run into our friend the death adder. Needless to say, we were all elated to see the beach at the end of it.

After leaving Magnetic Island, we ventured into the heart of the Outback. This by far was my favorite part of the trip. Our first stop was in Undara, home of the famous lava tubes. The tubes stretched hundreds of feet into the air and lead out into the rainforest. There I also saw my first live kangaroo (the actual first one I saw was dead on the side of the highway), and learned about the various flora of the Outback.

Our next stop in the Outback was Tyrconnell, an old gold mine that had been converted into a campsite. In the day, we learned about the struggles of living in the rough environment of the Outback, and we spent the nights playing campfire games and sleeping in tents. Two of the boys struggled with tent life and the “class five arachnids” that went along with it. I personally loved it, especially the stillness in the air. I do wish that the skies were a little clearer, because the stars would have looked beautiful in all that darkness.

After we left Tyrconnell, we headed into the rainforest. Even though the bulk of our trip was supposed to be about learning how to make tourism sustainable, our resort cut directly into the rainforest. That left us surrounded by wild boars and snout nosed water dogs. While on a night walk through the rainforest, our guide told us about how snakes use thermal imaging to sense food. He then proceeded to have us turn off our flashlights and sit in the darkness for twenty minutes. All that I could think about was how much I was glowing in the dark to a twenty-five foot rainforest-dwelling snake. But, walking out of the rainforest unscathed, I was glad to have experienced the rainforest as the animals that live there experience it at night.

-- Brie Brigham