Australia Update

As our time in Australia comes to a close, we still have a few more stops that we wanted to take.  But there is no better way to relax in Australia than celebrating a Free Day as a class.  Various students traveled to neighboring cities to visit the beach, the Aquarium of Western Australia, and to spend a few dollars at the Fremantle markets.  Don’t be surprised if you see boomerangs flying across Elon’s campus or hear the sound of a didgeridoo, as these were a few of the popular purchases.  The class chose to close out the adventurous day with a group dinner at the Moon Cafe  to share our stories.

After this well deserved Free Day, the class quickly readjusted to work mode as we tackled the Ferry ride to Rottnest Island, which once acted as a penal colony for Aboriginal men and boys.    It came as a shock to many of us to stand on a land that once experienced so much heartache.  This area holds great significance as it contains various Aboriginal sites scattered around the island.  A few of these sites included the prison site itself, the cemetery, the house of an ex-convict, and a museum displaying the history of the land.  The former prison, now known as the Lodge, provided an interesting glimpse into the devastating conditions that existed only a few decades ago.   However, you would never recognize this history as the Lodge is now ironically home to a fabulously furnished resort, thus covering up the deep rooted history of the prisoners.  Just next to the building we found the Aboriginal prisoners’ burial ground, though it is not like the cemeteries we see at home.  No graves were labeled, and the land was disrespected in the past as it once served as a camping ground.  However, today mechanisms  have been set into place to preserve the history that is associated with the land.

This day was definitely about balance.  The all work and no play mentality is not one that this group hopes for – whether you chose to take the bus, or getting in a work out as a few students biked around the island.  Either way Parakeet Bay seemed to be a popular place for the students to end up.  It did not take long for anyone to jump into their snorkel gear and explore the reefs in the Bay.  We made friends with a sting ray and some even spotted Nemo!  Though our return to dry land was not as welcoming as we had imagined as a few students encountered quokkas, a marsupial species native to Rottnest Island, before hopping on the Ferry back to Perth.

The following day, students enjoyed the morning at various beaches before heading to Curtin University in the late afternoon for a lecture from esteemed Australian Representative of Parliament, Ken Wyatt.  Students had the opportunity to pick apart the brain of the very first Aboriginal man to be elected to the House of Representatives – which we dare say is no small feat.  After spending the past few weeks in the bush learning how the Aboriginal people fit into their native land, it was fascinating to learn the experiences of a man who works to partner the world in the outback to contemporary society.  As the son of a woman of the Stolen Generation, he definitely gave us insight into the multi-generational impact of Aboriginal history and how Australian law attempts to bring the two worlds together.  It would seem that our class was affected by his talk of empowering collaboration, as we found ourselves enjoying a 29 person dinner party at a Mexican restaurant that was muy delicioso.

The next morning, the students were excited to spend their last full day at Caversham Wildlife Reserve. They were able to get an up close and personal look at some of the fascinating animals that are indigenous to the area, such as the dingos, wombats, koalas, and other creatures. The most popular attraction was the kangaroo exhibit as students were able to feed, pet, and hop around the yard with them. As we close out with our last night, students are excited to have enlightening discussions with a panel of some of the prestigious members of the Aboriginal community over one last group dinner.  Before we depart on our 25 hour journey back to the States, the students are excited to take part in Survival Day festivities tomorrow, which is put on annually by members of the Aboriginal community. We are very sad to leave and all hope to be able to return to Australia one day!

-Cheers!
Abby, Chelsea, Eric, and Meghan

The bloggers at Rottnest Island

Playing around with our kangaroo friends

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2 Comments

  1. Posted April 13, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    If you had to recommend one thing in Australia to visit what would it be??

  2. Posted May 6, 2012 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    Boomerangs and Kangaroos, wowzer! Sounds like: everyday is excitement day in Australia. Anyways, hello Abby, Chelsea, Eric, and Meghan; I googled to research about my upcoming student exchange to Australia next year. I’m Indonesian. Thanks so much for sharing.

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