Hello again! I’m currently back in the states, but I’ll be uploading my last few blog posts from my study abroad experiences in Sydney. Both the wifi and my phone data were extremely limited during the month of July, so I figured I would just upload these blog posts back in the States. Delaying the posts actually gave me some more time to reflect upon my experiences in Sydney, so my last post will probably be based on these reflections.
With this said, I’m just going to dive into my final weekend trip – my trip to Cairns. Although most students chose to visit Cairns during the Queen’s Birthday weekend, my roommates and I decided to save Cairns til the end so we could spread out our traveling. We went to Melbourne during the long weekend (see previous blog posts for details on this trip) and traveled to Cairns during the June 26th weekend.
We arrived in Cairns that Friday morning and checked into our hostel pretty smoothly. The hostel really fit the mood of the entire city; everyone seemed so relaxed and down-to-earth, and the hostel even had a renovated RV sitting in the middle of the common space for people to lounge in. We met so many interesting people in our hostel. I even talked to a man from Portugal for an hour about Philadelphia sports teams (#trusttheprocess)!
The next morning, we headed to the marina for our Great Barrier Reef expedition. This was probably one of the biggest things I was looking forward to in Australia, and finally getting to see the reef in person was amazing. We were able to snorkel by certain areas of the reef, but even at a quick glance, it was striking how much coral was dying. It is sad to realize how much damage humans have been causing to nature. The boat instructors told us that simply touching the coral could cause around 7 years of damage to the reef since it grows so slowly. Nevertheless, I am extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to visit such a remarkable piece of nature.
Besides the trip to the Great Barrier Reef, we also got to hike on the Crystal Cascades trails and see gorgeous waterfalls along the way. We also had the chance to hold a koala! Queensland (which is the state Cairns is in) is one of the only places where holding a koala is still legal. Even when we were there, the zoo had specific instructions with how long we could keep the koala in our arms. According to the zoo, too much time away from the trees causes distress for the koalas. Although I only had a quick encounter with the koala, the excitement on my face is hard to miss. Featured in the photo above is my adorable new friend, Nellie.