Alas, our epic Australian adventure has come to a close! As I write this, all ten students are in an airplane flying over the Pacific Ocean likely dreaming of meat pies and cuddling with koalas. On this final leg of the journey, our ten intrepid travelers will breach the time-space continuum, and by some mind-boggling calculations, they will arrive in LAX 4 hours earlier than they departed from Brisbane. We left Cairns at 3 am and groggily made our way onboard the flight to Brisbane before parting ways in the airport. It was hard to say goodbye to our newly forged family, but we are all tremendously thankful for the memories we have shared over the last three weeks.
Looking back at the amount of fun we’ve crammed into 21 days is truly awe-inspiring. Here’s a quick recap of the highlights: we explored Sydney high and low (literally! From scaling the many steps of the Harbor Bridge to wandering the botanical gardens and touring Opera House), and we caught some waves at Manly Beach before bonding over meat pies. We hiked around the Blue Mountains and partook in a spontaneous drum circle/dance party a-la-Meredith & Christy. We attended an Aussie rules footie match – Go, GIANTS! We sailed and hiked and snorkeled through the Whitsunday Islands (aka paradise) with Frenchie, Dutchie, and Mal aboard Eureka II. We belted out a sublime rendition of Viva la Vida one evening in the cockpit after spending the day keeled over and cruising in the sunshine with the wind in our hair and grins from ear to ear (errr that’s true for most of us). We had a preposterous amount of fun riding the carnival rides at “The Show” in Townsville. We held koalas and nuzzled with kangaroos at the Billabong Wildlife Sanctuary. We learned how to throw boomerangs Tjapukai, and we tossed the Frisbee around at the Water Hole after mulching like maniacs at the Daintree Rainforest Observatory (still so proud of everyone’s dedicated effort!). We braved SO many spiders on the rainforest night hike, and we saw crocs in the wild! We learned all about the Great Barrier Reef at Reef Teach (it covers a patch of ocean the size of Texas, wow!), and we got to do back-to-back-to-back-to-back dives on the Great Barrier Reef where we swam amongst otherworldly corals, reef sharks, turtles galore and stingrays. We rafted the Tully River, went cliff jumping and competed in raft wars. Not to mention, we did heaps of “mandatory bonding” and owned the Tim Tam Slam 🙂 Most importantly, we immersed ourselves in Australia, and we learned so much about one another and ourselves. Thanks for being such a phenomenal group. Nourish your adventurous spirits and keep being the marvelous people you are.