G’ Day Mates!
Sorry you haven’t heard from us in awhile, but let me catch you up on what we’ve been doing. After everyone making it safely back from their independent travels, we all met up in Canberra the Capitol city of Australia. It was fun getting to hear about everyone’s adventures they had. We had groups travel through Tasmania and New Zealand along with others who explored Melbourne, Sydney, and Canberra. The group was happy to be reunited and start out on our journey again. The first day back together we went and saw the National Museum of Australia. Here we learned a lot about the aboriginal culture and the first aboriginals to live in Australia. The museum had a lot of historical artifacts and a wide range of diversity in the different groups living in Australia many years ago. It also gave a good representation of how the land was used both by the aboriginals and the Europeans. It’s interesting to see how much the aboriginal culture gives back to the land and how well they use their resources completely compared to the European style of living. Today was a good first day back together, and a good start to our week in Canberra in getting to understand the history of their country. It was Ian’s 21st birthday, so we sang and celebrated that night. Unfortunately we had midterms coming up, so many of our nights in Canberra were spent studying and preparing for our midterms. The following day we went to the Australian War Memorial. We were guided through some of the main war events Australia was involved in, and told about their take on war. Australia as a country never seemed to want to start wars, but as being a part of Britain for so long they tended to join forces with them as soon as Britain entered a war. Another interesting fact was that from the very start of becoming a federation in 1901, Australia seemed to be involved in some sort of war. Some of us found it really difficult to see the war memorial, and all the deaths and fighting that’s occurred over the years. Looking back on this part of our trip, I think it has been one of the harder places we’ve visited emotionally, but I think it was good to see. On our third day we got to visit the parliament. Everyone put on nice clothes, and we hopped onto the bus not really knowing what to expect. Once we got their and after going through security we were given a tour. Their new parliament was recently built, and much of how it’s built has meaning to some aspect of their country from culture to nature. Like the United States they have a bicameral system, but one major difference is the way they are seated in the house and senate. In the United States the representatives are seated by district where as in Australia you sit by your party. We found this most interesting during questioning. When in session they have something called questioning that allows the prime minister, and other members of parliament to be asked questions on the spot and than respond. When sitting in on this it was hilarious, because the party in power sits on one side and facing them on the other side is the opposition. The opposition will ask the prime minister or some other member a question, and when they go up to respond the opposition would make noises and yell at the person talking. Some people even ended up getting kicked out, but we found out that it happens quite often during questioning. After questioning we headed back to the yha to have some group discussions, and start studying again. The following day we had lectures in the morning that had a lot to do with their past history of war, the economy, and the European colonization. That afternoon we went to a panel discussion where we heard four different individuals talk about their work with the environment, government, and teaching. We left the next day (March 15th) for Sydney. Much of our time spent in Canberra had a lot to do with the government and history of their country as well as learning about their economy and how the government is involved in environmental issues.
Coming into Sydney we saw the opera house and the huge Sydney bridge. Everyone was really excited to spend some time in Sydney. Once we got checked into our rooms, we went on a Rocks Dreaming tour. The tour was given by an aboriginal women, explaining the history of aboriginals of the Sydney area. Sydney was the first place the Europeans settled after Captain Cook arrived in 1877. She told us about the Cadigal people living in the area, and how they saw the Europeans. She said it is as if we saw aliens landing in our homes. They had no idea who these people were, and they weren’t able to communicate with them. She also explained the role of the men and women of the clan, and told us a lot about their culture. While on the tour, we saw places in the Sydney harbor area that represented the aboriginal culture. Many neighborhoods in Sydney still have aboriginal street names. The aboriginal culture as well as the people are a big part of the history of Sydney. After the tour we had a chance to explore Sydney some more around the harbor, but many of us returned to the yha to study for midterms. The following day we took our first two midterms in the morning and afternoon. It was a lot of writing, and everyone’s hand hurt. We didn’t know how we were going to be able to write two more tests. That night everyone just relaxed, and we celebrated Justine’s 20th birthday. The following day was our study day. Many of us decided to study for awhile and go to a market. Lyla and Emily came back with some really cool Egyptian looking pants from the market. While we were out taking a little study break we saw all the people celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. Everyone was dressed in green with beads and hats. It was really cool to see. The rest of the night was spent studying knowing we had two more midterms the following day. Waking up the next morning, no one wanted to take two more tests, but we did and we all survived except our hands maybe. That night we had a free night, so we all decided we wanted to go out and check out Sydney and the night life. It was fun walking around and seeing all the people out. Some places we’re still celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, but I guess it was St. Patricks Day in some places like back home for us. The next day we had lectures in the morning about the aboriginals in a contemporary society. Afterwards we went to the Australian museum where we saw aboriginal history. We also saw some artifacts, learned about their past to some more present day issues, and saw an exhibit where we learned a ton about the western and Torres Strait Islander aboriginals. Once the tour was finished we were allowed to explore the other parts of the museum. We saw huge dinosaurs that were once apart of the land, and many other animals that have gone extinct. Not only that but there was a part of the museum with crystals and stuffed animals of Australia. Many of these animals we’ve learned about and have seen out in the field. This evening we had a free day, so many of us walked around Sydney by the opera house and the botanical gardens. The next morning we woke up to have lectures about the dreamtime. These lectures are really interesting, because it explains the stories of the aboriginals ancestries, where they come from, how they view the land, and they tell stories of the past, present, and future. This afternoon we went to the art gallery of new south wales. At the gallery we learned about art centers where aboriginals go to paint and do art work. You can tell where the work is from depending on what type of technique they used. The artwork was amazing, and each painting had a significance and purpose for why it was done. The next day we left Sydney to go to lands edge, but before we stopped there we went to Royal National Park. Pretty sure they sent us the smallest bus possible to put all of our stuff in. It was quite a task and the entire bus was full. This was Australia’s first national park, and they were the second country to have a national park after the United States. We had a guide named Andy who led us through the park. He was awesome and loved having us as a group. We canoed through the park seeing the trees and wildlife. We got to a spring where almost everyone went swimming and exploring farther down where the canoes couldn’t go. We canoed back to the main area and had a barbecue. During lunch we all tried to throw a spear. It was actually a lot harder than it looked and most of our spears didn’t make it to far. We drove through the park to a different area where there was a small waterfall and beach. We relaxed here for awhile swimming and enjoying the beautiful weather. Afterwards we took a hike through the forest up to a look out spot over the area and the ocean. Finally once our day was finished at the park we headed to lands edge.
The first day at lands edge an aboriginal man came and talked to us about his culture. He brought with spears, boomerangs, rope, baskets, and furs, along with some different types of plants. After explaining how they used the materials, we all got to make bracelets. Than we had the chance to try to throw the boomerang. We headed down to a wide area of the park where he demonstrated how to throw the returning boomerang. Everyone was a little nervous to throw them, because we were all standing there as well as some older couples sitting at a picnic table. We all took turns throwing it. Even after David W. hit a mans foot we continued to throw it. Everyone tried and some succeeded, but we had some pretty good laughs while attempting. That afternoon we got to go snorkeling and saw sea horses and many barnacles. Some people were even lucky enough to see a sting ray. At night we were able to watch some movies including finding nemo and cool runnings.The following two days we did volunteer work at Middle Head National Park either excavating an 1870′s military tunnel or restoring the bush land (pulling weeds). The first day though we got to work with an aboriginal ranger who told us about where he comes from and the ways they use the land. At the end he let us try and throw spears and boomerangs at moving wooden kangaroos and roosters. It was hilarious because most of the time we didn’t really hit either one. The second day of working the boys were determined to try to finish excavating the tunnel. They had high hopes, but it couldn’t quite get finished although the group that worked on the tunnel did a really good job. The other group pulled weeds for most of the day, but got lucky enough to go watch a music video being filmed in the park. None of us knew who the singer was, but it was cool to watch. After eating lunch a man named Gordon who is a famous aboriginal artist showed us some of his work, and told us about how he became a painter. We went to a small house and saw tons of his art pieces along with a few others. Right before we left there was a birthday party taking place at the house next door. The dad invited us over to go sing to his 5yr old son. We talked with the parents for awhile, told them what we were doing, and why we were in Australia. Right before we started to sing a women told us that at the end of their happy birthday song you say hip hip hurry hip hip hurry. Good thing she warned us otherwise none of us would’ve sang that part. After singing they even gave us cake. They were really welcoming and loved talking to us. Once we walked backed to lands edge we hit the beach, because it was a really nice day outside. Some people were brave enough to go to the nude beach up the road a ways. When they returned they said it was just a bunch of older men. Tonight was our last night at lands edge, and we all went out to eat. Some went to a thai restaurant while others had pizza, but both were really good. That night everyone started packing up again knowing we were going to be leaving in the morning. Getting up the next day everyone was looking forward to our first full free day in Sydney. We all had plans to go out on a catamaran. Arriving back at the yha everyone got there stuff had some lunch, and we headed down to darling harbor. We boarded dreamtime girl and set out around the harbors seeing the opera house, bridge, and botanical gardens. Everyone was having a good time talking, dancing, and singing. They stopped the catamaran by a small beach where we were able to jump out and swim. Us swimming turned into a game of 500 on the beach. Once we were done swimming we continued to cruise around and started grilling food. We were on the catamaran for four hours. That evening almost the entire group had tickets to go see the movie the hunger games. Most of the group is reading the book or has read it during the trip, so they decided it’d be fun to see the movie. The rest of the group that didn’t go hung out at the yha. The next morning we had a discussion and than a panel group came into talk to us about sustainability. This turned out to be really interesting in understanding how sustainable businesses are or other companies, and what’s taught in universities about sustainability. As a group we had tons of questions to ask wondering about many different aspects of sustainability. That afternoon we had a free day. Some people went out exploring the city of Sydney from walking around, to shopping, to going to the harbor. Others ended up at Bondi Beach watching surfers and laying out, and some stayed at the yha trying to figure out their independent travels days and how they were going to get to Brisbane. The following day was our last day before break. We took a train out to the Blue Mountains. This is where Charles Darwin once walked exploring the area and specimens. We hiked through the mountains with a guide explaining much of the botany, ecology, and animal life found in the area. It was a really pretty hike seeing waterfalls, valleys, streams, and forests. We even ate lunch under a cave overlooking the mountains and valley. After our hike we heard from an aboriginal man about the culture of the area, and he showed us some spears, shields, leaves, boomerangs, and told some old stories about the people. After our tour was done we took the train back into Sydney. That brings us up to where we are now; our independent travels. This past week we’ve had individuals exploring and hiking in Sydney. Others are laying on the beach up north in the Brisbane area, and some went back down south to visit family and friends. As of this morning the group has safely made it back into Brisbane, and will being our studies. Tomorrow morning we leave for Morton Bay Research station until Sunday when everyone will move in with their home stay families.
The Aussie Crew
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