Friday, January 28, 2011

G'Day Mate!

G’day Mate!  I’ve been in New Zealand now for a few days, but I’m just now getting to posting my last Australia post.  Sorry!  As our tour manager says, “this is not a vacation, it’s an adventure” - one which keeps us busy non-stop from 7am ‘til 9pm!
Crikey!  I got to hold a crocodile, my favorite animal, in Cairns, Australia!  It was a baby, but it was still a crocodile, and I held it!  :)  I watched a feeding demonstration of a gianormous crocodile whose head was about the length of my lower body and the girth of a large pig.  It was so forceful and was feeding just on the other side of the fence from me.  This croc was brought into captivity because it had a few altercations with humans, so they figured it was best to get him off the streets.  If only Steve Irwin, The Crocodile Hunter, were still alive and I was able to see him wrangle a croc or two my Australia experience would have been complete!  ::tear::
 My next great adventure, one I’ve been looking forward to for a long time, was snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef!  It’s actually made up of 29,000 separate reefs to create the largest reef in the world.  I donned a lycra diving suit, a mask and snorkel and my flippers and hopped into the Coral Sea.  We were out in the Outer Great Barrier Reef about 16 miles out into the sea.  They said it was a protected area to snorkel in so I figured there was some sort of net surrounding the area or something, but no, we were open to sharks, killer sting rays and whales.  Yikes!  It was raining while we were there so there was reduced visibility to only about 10 feet or so, but it was still unbelievable.  I found a huge reef that was about 3 feet below the surface of the water giving me just enough room to swim over it.  It was covered with colorful coral, anemones and there were fish coming out of everyone.  Some single fish, some schools of fish, all different sizes and different colors.  I got a little nervous each time I went out into the water and no one else was around because it’s pretty eerie when all you can hear is your own breathing and nothing else.  When other people are around you inevitably bump into them and each time I was certain that I had crashed into a boat or a shark or something just as menacing.  So I went back down into the water, all by myself, and I saw something dark out of the left corner of my eye.  So I slowly turned around and saw, about2 feet from me, a HUGE fish about 3 feet long and 2 feet high.  It looked like a giant sheet and I turned around and started swimming away kicking as hard as I could.  I probably kicked the poor thing, but I had to get away – I don’t know if I’m cut out for this sort of thing!  But other than that I had an amazing time and it will go down as one of the most memorable things I have ever done.  It was really incredible to be out in the middle of the sea, bobbing up and down, checking in with others about what we just saw and directing each other where to go to see something even more beautiful.

Another item from my bucket list has been checked off and that is to visit a rainforest.  I’ve always wondered what it would be like to actually be in the rainforest.  And in a word it is WET!  We went on a day that was pouring down rain, so at least it was authentic, because what’s a rainforest without the rain?  We took a gondola up a mountain, amidst the clouds and I stared straight ahead and would not, could not, look down.  Once we finally reached the top I was so happy to be there!  We walked along a path with the huge trees drooping down in our way.  It truly sounded like “the rainforest” on sound machines, with the droplets of rain hitting the trees and the various animal sounds, ones I’d only heard before at Tropic World at Brookfield Zoo.  As the gondola passed over the Barron River I allowed myself to look straight down, but only because I was on the hunt for wild crocodiles.  Although, because of the floods there were a lot of sticks and trim limbs in the muddy water so it was difficult to differentiate.
 Our last city in Australia was Sydney!  Every tour guide on each tour we took was very eager to talk about Oprah in Australia and how Hugh Jackman crashed into the stage on a zip line (or a flying fox as the Aussies say) at full speed.  They’re hoping for the Oprah Effect on their tourism industry!  Sydney is such a beautiful city with so many aspects to it that are so diverse.  There’s the Sydney Harbor which contains the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Bridge, cruises, ferries and tons of shops and outdoor restaurants; the Rocks which has lots of shops, offices and restaurants perched on sandstone rocks; Bondi Beach which is a picturesque beach filled with surfers, sunbathers, beach activities and sun; and many more.  The Rocks was previously known as a dicey and dilapidated place to live back in the 1800s.  We visited the Susannah Place Museum which was a terrace house building from 1844 and is one of the few buildings still standing from that time.  It gave an interesting glimpse into life throughout the years in Sydney.  We climbed the Sydney Harbor Bridge while wearing attractive nylon climbing suits.  We were 440 feet in the air and I didn’t particularly like the shots of adrenaline that ran through my body when I looked straight down.  At the Sydney Wildlife World I got to pet a Koala but wasn’t able to hold him because they’re very shy (or at least that’s what they told us – I’ve heard they’re actually somewhat mean – but they’re so cute and cuddly looking!).   

Next we went on a tour of the Sydney Opera House and learned about its history – it almost never got completed because it exceeded the budget by approximately $100 million, the architect walked away from it while it was being built, and they couldn’t figure out how to make the roofing for the sphere shaped sails.  My mom went back in the evening to see if she could get her hands on some Jimmy Buffett tickets and she did!  She sat in a box seat super close and had a great time!  The concert lasted three hours (longer than I expected) and she was out there alone, without a cell phone, and I had my first glimpse into what it’s going to be like to be the worried parent waiting up at home!  I was a nervous wreck!  On my last night in Sydney I went out to dinner with my friend, Holly, who actually just recently moved to Australia and is having the time of her life!  I love travel!  :)

No comments:

Post a Comment