Australia Ecotourism 2015

January 7 – Tasmania, Canyoning

Conquering Canyons; Forgetting Fears

Think about your worst fear. Now think about actually accomplishing it. That is exactly what we did today, on January 7, 2015.

We are currently in Cradle Mountain, Tasmania, and today we went canyoning. Basically, we repelled down the side of mountains, threw ourselves off cliffs, and allowed ourselves to flow downstream with the river as a group. (No worries Mom and Dad, we survived and are in one piece.) To begin the day, we broke off into 3 main groups. The first group consisted of mainly the boys, and a couple of girls, who were conquering this battle head strong. The second group continued with similar stamina. The third group, (this includes us) although athletic, went into the day hesitant on what it may bring.


The next step was to get the safety gear needed, fitted, and meet our instructors. Then, each group was driven a mile or so up the road to begin the 40-minute hike to a rock where we changed into the safety gear and wet suits provided for us at the lodge. The hike consisted of steady planks through what seemed like the Lion King’s backdrop. We also were fortunate enough to have seen a wombat (and its unique square poop) on our way up the hike!

By the time we reached our changing rock we were slightly out of breath from carrying the weight of our gear (it felt like fat camp, thanks mom and dad). But definitely worth it. We changed into 3 layers of wet suits, helmets, socks, shoes, gloves, and a life vest. It felt like it was 200 degrees under the Tasmanian sun.

We then continued down the path into the woods, where we met up with the second group, as we prepared to begin our first obstacle: repelling down the side of the mountain. After the second group finished, and we had received a stern safety talk from our instructors, we were ready to go! And with that, our fears began to subside. Similar to coming down from a indoor rock climbing wall, repelling was so much fun! We went down one by one, with one instructor helping us by controlling our speed, and the other instructor waiting for us at the bottom, to help us unhook our harness. We waited at the bottom in the water (which was slowly finding its way inside our wetsuit to cool our bodies but essentially keeping us warm). Once we had all made it down the mountain side, we then began our journey down the river.

The journey consisted of three jumps that were approximately each 20-25 foot jumps into Chrystal clear pools of freezing water. We also got to experience sliding (one example would be an amusement park type shoot, in which we were sent down a water fall and then shot out into the water). This was definitely the talking point of the journey. Another cool slide consisted of a tree trunk that we slid down, and then hopped off. After completing these tasks, everything else seemed like a breeze…


…until we began our climb up the mountain. Imagine walking up a steep mountain in a wet suit that was filled with water. This is exactly how we had to get back up the mountain. Inch by inch and crawl by crawl we slowly ascended to the spot where we left our bags, as water squished in our shoes with every step.  We then began the super fun process of peeling off every item of wet clothing that was on our body (this tended to take a while). With helping hands we successfully got dressed back into our shorts and t-shirts. With that, we walked back to the parking lot, taking in the breathtaking scenery and hot sun on our skin.

Ending the day with a class meal at a local pub, we enjoyed friendly conversations and experienced our first wallaby! We ended the night in our cozy cabins feeling brave, accomplished, and proud.

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January 6 – Melbourne, 12 Apostles + Loch Ard Gorge

Today we woke up at Surfside Backpackers and drove a short ways to Mait’s Rust, a rainforest named for a general in WWI.  Due to its location, it is home to flora and fauna not found anywhere else in the world.  One of our tour guides, Lucy, led us on a short walk through the forest and taught us about the plants and the unique ways they grow and thrive.  For example, the fern that grows in this forest can be hundreds of years old and still growing.  As the ferns die, new growths spur from the dead roots.  It was interesting to learn that without the death of the preexisting fern, new ferns would never grow.  We also saw two very special types of trees: the Mountain Ash and the Myrtle Beech tree.  The Mountain Ash is the tallest tree in Australia and in the world only second to the California Redwoods.  The Myrtle Beech trees are only found in this forest and have been standing for hundreds of years; having survived a large fire that wiped most of the rainforest.  We all really enjoyed experiencing a place that we have only ever seen in pictures and that we will never experience anywhere else.


After we left the rainforest, we drove a ways to see the 12 Apostles on the Great Ocean Road.  They cover such a vast area that we had to make three separate stops in order to see all of them; though only 8 are still standing.  We saw them from lookouts above and were able to walk down to the beaches below them as well.  While down on the beach, we saw writing on the bluffs about 50 feet above the sand.  These writings were dated back to 1910, making it evident how much sand has eroded over the past century and how quickly it will continue to wash away, just as many of the Apostles have.  Lucy then pointed out that one of the largest standing Apostles has developed a crack down the center, which will inevitably lead to a split as the erosion continues.  Although there is no way to stop the natural erosion caused by the ocean, it made us very aware of the impacts we can have on the environment.  The beaches we visited were some of the most amazing we have ever seen and it was a truly eye opening experience about the vastness of the world we live in.  Additionally, it was awesome to spend some time in the sun at the beach.

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We ended our afternoon with a long drive back to Melbourne, where we boarded the Spirit of Tasmania II to start our overnight journey across the Tasman Sea to Tazmania.


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January 5 – Melbourne, Great Ocean Road

Waking up in Melbourne, we headed to “The Dunes” for a beginners surfers lesson. After changing into wetsuits we headed down to the beach to catch some waves. With some initial instructions, we made our way to the water where many of us attempted to catch our first waves. Surfing for about 2hrs, many of us began to show improvement with multiple people “riding out” full waves.

At the end of our lesson and practice we headed up the Great Ocean Road where we saw great sights up the coast. Stopping in Torquay for food, we found an excellent restaurant named Soulfuel where many of us enjoyed chicken fajitas.


Our tour guides led us to a koala bear hot spot named the “Koala Kafe.” Seeing multiple koala bears and birds, we learned about the lifestyle of these creatures and how they lived. Sleeping upwards of 20hrs a day most of the koalas were resting upon the branches of eucalyptus trees; their  main source of food.


After leaving this area we made our way to our hostel in Apollo Bay. Here we were served a fantastic meal that featured kangaroo, along with many American classics such as hamburgers and hot dogs. We then took to the backyard to learn the basics of cricket and created teams to play against one another. What followed was a exhibition between both sides, leading to many of our classmates showing off their athletic prowess.


The evening culminated around a camp fire where many of us began to get to know each other much better. Many of us stayed out on that full moon night talking about pasts and enjoying the time we had together.

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January 4 – Arrive in Melbourne


After a long 15-hour flight we arrived in Melbourne. As soon as we got to Melbourne we were sent off to check out the local restaurants and get lunch. After we got lunch, we went on a 5-mile tour of Melbourne where we got to see the popular sights and learn about the history of the city.

Our tour started off at the famous prison that held Melbourne’s most popular criminal “Ned Kelly.” Ned Kelly was a bush robber who would hide in bushes and jump out and rob the rich and give to the poor. He was convicted and sent to this prison after a long standoff with cops at the local hotel.


The next stop on the tour was at the arcade, which has lots of popular stores and restaurants. The arcade was a popular place in the old days for women to parade around in dresses in search for a husband.

Next on the tour we learned that Melbourne has a bigger population growth than Sydney and also is known for their laneways. The laneways are alleyways that contain small shops and bars that are popular with the locals. The laneways also have a beautiful display of street art.


After the tour we got to see the Yarra River and got a beautiful view of the city of Melbourne. Once the tour was over we were allowed to adventure off into Melbourne and experience the nightlife.

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Australia: Ecotourism 2015

Looking forward to seeing you all in LA on January 2, 2015 in 45 days!!!

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