A Travellerspoint blog

Last Entry

Gold Coast, Cattle Station, Rubyvale for Sapphire Mining, Carnarvon Gorge

Greetings Family and Friends! This is our last entry from Down Under! Tomorrow night is our farewell dinner with our 15 students, then we head back to the US! Here are some highlights from the last few weeks! Thanks everyone for e-mails, prayers, and good thoughts. See you soon!

We spent our Easter Spring Break (autumn here) at SeaWorld on the Gold Coast.

We spent a few days on a working cattle station in the bush country of Central Queensland. After a 4-wheel drive tour with the owner, Mia, Natalie, and Jeannie took a horseback ride.

Australia is blessed with rich mineral resources, one of them is sapphires! We spent a day fossicking with the Brown Family in Rubyvale. We didn't strike it rich but we did have a gem of a time. Neil was sure we had found TowMater (is there anyone who hasn't seen the movie CARS?). The last photo shows an Australian culinary delight - Wedges!

DSC03221.jpgDSC03195.jpgDSC03176.jpgDSC03234.jpg Kookaburra, Echidna, Aboriginal Paintings, Kids in a Tree

Posted by primrose 03:29

Special Places in Australia

Rainforests & Coral Reefs

We filled our last week in Brisbane by saying goodbye to Cadan, Katie, & Grant, visiting some fun gardens (the kids are doing their Roo dance around the topiary Roo), visiting the largest Ginger factory in the world, and a working train museum (check out who was hiding in a nearby shed!). On the way back from the train museum we stumbled upon the best park we have ever visited in nowhere else than Ipswich, Queensland.

Neil says, “Happy Bilby Day”. (In Australia the rabbits have destroyed much of the habitat that supported small native marsupials such as the Bilby shown in chocolate).

We left Brisbane and headed to the subtropical rainforests of Lamington Park (the first national park in Australia). After preparing camp the students set out to trap birds, marsupials, and insects. In our time off we fed the local Rosella parrots, did tree top hikes, and of course helped the students. This experience has been a highlight of our time down-under.

We then set out for Heron Island, a small coral cay (you can walk around the entire island in 20 min) located at the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef. We snorkeled, enjoyed the beach, found plenty of caterpillars, helped the students on a night snorkel, saw huge loggerhead turtles and baby hatchlings heading out to sea.

In this photo are stingrays, a turtle, and a huge hammerhead shark (all 4 meters from the beach).

Posted by primrose 01:46

Exploring Australia

Visit from family and studying North Stradbroke Island

Cousin Cadan, Aunt Katie, & Uncle Grant visited for 2 weeks! It was so nice seeing family. We did not waste anytime showing them around Brisbane and hitting the beaches. We visited Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary where Cadan got to feed Roo's and Mia had her RooFood stolen by an emu. The cousins loved chasing each other around the Bottle Tree in the local park.

While Cadan headed up north to the tropics we headed to North Stradbroke Island for the weekend to study sand island geology and ecology. We took a walk through a mangrove swamp learning about how these plants survive in the harsh environment at the edge of the ocean and then explored the mud flats of Morton Bay where we discovered a rich assortment of marine life (sea cucumbers & swimmer crab are shown)! We topped the day off by sinking ourself in the mud!

North Stradbroke is the second largest sand island in the world (yep, just big piles of pure sand covered by a eucalypt forest). Basically its a series of a about a dozen giant dunes that formed when sea levels dropped during the last three major ice ages. The group photo is from the top of one of the youngest dunes formed about 5 thousand years ago, however there are 500,000 yr old dunes as well. After exploring the dune we hit the beach (lead the way Alice!) where we studied the plants that colonize the newest dunes. Oh did we mention that it warm and sunny Down Under?

Posted by primrose 04:43

Family week in Brisbane

This past week we had no program responsibilities, as the students were on a week of independent travel. We took the time to explore Brisbane, navigate public transportation, take a bus tour of the city, and visit all of the free museums. We will be living here for the next month. Here are a few picture highlights:
Our first destination was the local park in our suburb, New Farm. We instantly felt relieved to be in a smaller town, about the size of Portland (however its the 3rd largest city in Australia!). Notice the Banyan fig tree in the background. As it extends its branches it sends down roots that grow into new trunks!
All of these pictures are from Steve Irwin's Australia Zoo. Easily the best zoo that we have ever visited. Steve's enthusiasm for nature conservation, animals, and his beloved crocs (he was a co-author on a scientific publication last year describing croc migration) was overwhelming and this place was a kid magnet. It was a Ripper of a Day!
No better way to end the day than with some food from Neddy's Nosebag Cafe in Beerwah Queensland.

Posted by primrose 03:23

Our Third Update

Last Week in Sydney, Aboriginal Cultural Field Studies, Arrival in Brisbane

Our happy little builder! This is at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney - An eceletic mix of fashion/eco-living/steam engines/music/etc.
These are modern Aboriginal Paintings - read the photo description to learn more!
A free day - we are at Manly Beach - the surf and tides were dangerous this day, so swimming was limited to a small section of the beach. The Opera House photo is taken from the ferry over to Manly Beach.
St. Mary's Cathedral They are getting ready for a visit from Pope Benedict in June.
Hyde Park Barracks
Time for a brief history lesson. January 26, 1788 the first fleet of European settlers arrive. Most were convicts, convicted for minor crimes like stealing a loaf of bread or clothing. These convicts served 7, 14, or 21 year sentences of free labor for the colony. For the first 30 years the convicts lived among the soldiers and free settlers. However, in the early 1800's, barracks were built to house them when they weren't working. This building held between three and four thousand convicts a night. In the late 1980's in preparation for remodeling the building as a cultural center, they discovered that underneath the floorboards, the rats had smuggled thousands of convict artifacts. Now the building is a living museum.
We tried out the hammocks which seemed pretty cozy if you are less than four feet tall.
A bit out of order, but here is Sydney University where the lectures were held for the LC students.
We went down to Darling Harbor the night of Australia Day. It commemorates the arrival of the first fleet. Let's just say the fireworks safety rules are much more lax in Australia.
Traditional Aboriginal Dance at the Yaban Celebration - the counterpoint - celebrating the survival of the indigenous people following the arrival of the first fleet.
Just a great cup of coffee - a little luxury item.
The sounds of male cicadas filled the air in and around Sydney. These insects live over a decade as a beetle-like creature underground. Then crawl up a tree and hatch out into a large loud flying bug. The girls found these casings hanging on trees. They decided to throw them all over their heads.
We are at Aboriginal Cultural Camp. The week was filled with once-in-a-lifetime experiences. These pictures represent a glimpse into our experience with Uncle Wayne, Aunt Jodi, and our friends at camp.
Here is our amazing babysitter and new friend Sofia! We hope to see her in Oregon this summer!
Flight to Brisbane - Goodbye Sydney!
Our personal baggage collector.

Posted by primrose 02:52

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