when saying final goodbyes to my friends back in the states, i not only received well wishes and clingy embraces, but was sternly instructed to "please stay alive." whether sarah was concerned about australia's vast number of deadly animals/plants, depleting ozone layer, or copious alcohol consumption, she's probably right to fear for my safety. after all, recent events have shown i may be mildly accident prone (katrina put it so kindly as to say i have a death wish). but you know what? being approximately 9,6660 miles from home in a completely foreign environment hasn't really phased me. my biggest fear so far (besides when i thought i was going to fall off a boulder and die) is simply not experiencing enough of what australia has to offer. so far though i think i've been doing a pretty good job.
this past weekend, i went along with others from the arcadia program on a trip north to cardwell, mission beach and tully. we left friday afternoon and spent the evening in caldwell, a town about two hours north. originally, we were supposed to be camping but with all the rain decided against it. i can't say i was too disappointed, especially with the luxury of being able to sleep in an air-conditioned (!!!!) room. we did some outdoor grilling and enjoyed burgers the australian way- kangaroo patties with cheese, a fried egg, beet root, pineapple, tomatoes, lettuce and carrots. SO GOOD. it was incredibly filling, but once i start eating it becomes difficult to stop usually.. so fruit salad and tim-tams were necessary to follow with. a food coma ensued and we all passed out by 10pm.
we slept in until 8 (a luxurious 10 hours of sleep) and were off for a rainforest hike. i must have been dripping with bug spray, but the mosquitos here seem to be seriously immune to it. two seconds into the trail it became difficult to take in the lush foliage with the swarm that descended upon us.. i tried to keep my cool at first but towards the end we were all sorta freaking out. but i wasn't as bad off as carolyn who had a disturbing allergic reaction to the bites all over her shoulders (the mozzies' feeding ground of choice). we semi sprinted to the beach once we were in site of it and the relief was instantaneous. everyone agreed that it was probably wise to walk back to the bus via the sandy shoreline.
the trail looked promising at first..
i loved how there were flowering vines growing over the sand
it was actually agonizing stopping to take pictures
sprint walking through the jungle
we were VERY excited to reach the water
thought this tree was pretty cool looking
we spotted a snake out the window and had to stop to take some photos. pretty sure it had a small frog in its mouth
next stop was up a little way to echo creek, where we met members of the grant family and learned about a little bit about their aboriginal culture. their land was beautiful and a thick fog had descended over the mountains. we listened to one of their stories about the taipan snake and the fire it once guarded, then all painted boomerangs with the intention of illustrating part of the story. my artistic talents did not go very far unfortunately. i blame being rushed.. we also tried throwing wooden "spears" at rolling wooden circles (supposed to simulate kangaroos running by). i know its hard to believe, but i would likely starve if forced to hunt this way..
such natural artists
hunting our dinner of wooden circles
look at that form!
we spent the rest of the evening exploring mission beach, another coastal town. there were actually waves here which i would have loved to swim in, but i still had stitches in so no swimming for me. instead we played some frisbee on the beach and wandered around until dinner (delicious pizza). we stayed at a cool rainforest hostel that night and shared a room with a family of geckos.
mission beach, late afternoon
there was evidence of a large ghost crab population on the beach, they form these circular bits of sand as they feed
our rainforest hostel
sunday morning: kayak adventure down the bulgan creek in tully! this was the best day of the weekend by far. the entire journey was not only really beautiful but exciting as we went through several rapids! i was very surprised that i managed to stay in my kayak the entire time.
preparing to board
rapids under this bridge proved hazardous to some
what an awesome weekend spent with wonderful people! and there is still so much to look forward to.