Byron Bay!

Over the past two weeks, our team has delved into the life of the Australian people by immersing ourselves in the city and learning about the “human environment”. Today, we embarked on our journey of taking a step out of the city and making our way into the rural and natural environments of Queensland. This journey starts off by us traveling down to Byron Bay, and in a few days flying up to Cairns to begin our research with James Cook University.

Our drive to Byron Bay included a quick stop to Gold Coast where we were given the opportunity to ride to the 77th floor of the Q1 Observatory. The lookout gives you a large view of Gold Coast and the great ocean that lies beside it. It was interesting to see the Miami style neighborhoods where rivers flow in and out of the streets.

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After arriving to Byron Bay, we quickly realized we were far from the young inner city that we become comfortable with in the beginning days of our trip. In Byron Bay, the streets are lined with the latest clothing stores and the people represent a large “no worries” kind of look (hippy, as referred to in the US). Despite this, the food is delicious, the people are very nice, and the views from the beach are spectacular. I think we’re going to enjoy our “free” days coming up here.

Today officially marks our half-way point for our trip. It’s hard for me to fathom that this trip is half way over. It feels like yesterday that I was sprinting through the Toronto airport to make it to my flights, or that we had just taken our first of many museum tours. Yet, I feel comfortable with how I left the city. Brisbane felt like a home that I will always be welcomed back to. From here on out we will transition into looking at Queensland from a more “natural” perspective by going north to Cairns to study in the tropical rainforest and start our research projects with James Cook University. Personally, I’m very excited for this portion of the trip and to see sides of Australia that I have been waiting for.

With that, I’ll leave you with some of my own personal reflections. In two weeks, I have made connections and friendships with people that I had never known before. As a group, and family, we have laughed and adventured and experienced things that only we will know. We are here in Australia, together. Tonight all 16 of us decided to make dinner together. I’m not sure about everyone else, but I know that sitting there felt special. We made it to Australia. We were chosen and we are doing it. With this much luck and enjoyment in the first half, I can’t wait to see what the second half has to bring.

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By: Jennie Feldpausch

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