Before I get started, this is my 100th post on this blog! So crazy! Appropriate that I am talking about one of my favorite places I have been in my travels.
We arrived in Cairns fresh off the Gold Coast, and we welcomed into a large hostel called Gilligan’s, which he had been told was the “ultimate hostel of Australia”. Cairns is known for being a beachy town with the Great Barrier Reef off of the coast, and throughout the entire trip, the beach city vibe was very present. It reminded me of home a little bit, with an Australian flare. Needless to say, this was a perfect place to end our trip because we would be able to lounge in the sun after our final and go on an excursion to the Great Barrier Reef!
We got a quick tour around Cairns upon our arrival by a TEAN staffer so we could get acquainted with the downtown area, which is actually pretty small. From our hostel, we could walk to everything we needed, so the central location was definitely a plus. Also, the Engineering group had gone ahead to Cairns when we left for the Gold Coast, so we were able to meet up with them again and they also were able to show us where they had been and what they had been doing the two days previous.
On our second day in Cairns, we had a field trip scheduled for the Tourism group (our last field trip!!) to a butterfly reserve in Kuranda, which is a rainforest area above Cairns. Once we got on the bus, the TEAN staffer told us our destination, but none of us were all too happy. Luckily, we convinced her that seeing koalas and kangaroos would be much more fun of all of us, and so we set off to the Koala Gardens which is conveniently located right next to the butterfly reserve.
At Koala Gardens, we were able to hold a koala (!!!!!) and received a professional photo of us
holding the koala. This is something only one of the Tourism people had done before, so the rest of us were really excited to be able to be a part of this. Holding a koala seems to be one of the most iconic things you can do in Australia, so we were lucky that we were able to do it as part of a field trip, rather than just on our own where we would have to pay out of pocket.
After all of us got pictures with the koalas, we continued through the gardens to the kangaroo and wallaby area where we were able to hand feed both of these animals. Many of the kangaroos were lounging in their protected area, but some of the hungrier ones came over to the side to mingle with us. We also got some great pictures of us with these creatures, and spent a long time crouching down and feeding them. This field trip was for sure the highlight of the trip – I really did not think that this was something I would be able to do, and there I was, holding a koala and hand feeding a kangaroo!
After our trip to the Koala Gardens, we had lunch in the markets next to the Gardens, which the TEAN staffer had put together for us. It was really good food, and the meat eaters of the group were able to eat emu, crocodile and kangaroo (!!).
For the last part of our field trip, we went on the sky rail over the Kuranda rainforest. We made two stops in total at different look out points, but the highlight was at the second point where we met up with Ranger Phil (“In America, you have Doctor Phil, and in Australia, we have Ranger Phil! That’s me!”) and he told us about the rainforest in detail. The Kuranda rainforest is very similar to the Amazon, so I already knew some of the trees he pointed out from my trip to Peru, but there was a great deal of different wildlife in Australia. Unfortunately, since it was day time and there were a bunch of us on the tour, we were not able to see any of the crazy huge birds they have, but we did learn about them.
When we got back to Gilligan’s that night, we boasted about our amazing field trip to our friends in the Engineering program who had gone to a sugar mill that day. Sometimes it pays to be in Tourism (;
My next blog will be about our class coming to an end and our farewell dinner. Bring the tissues!