Australia: Spring Break

Although Spring Break is not practiced in Australia since it’s technically entering fall at the moment, our University and internships gave us a week off to travel around Down Under. A few friends and I decided that our ideal week would start off going to Cairns to see the Great Barrier Reef and ending the week in Gold Coast at Surfers Paradise. Other friends I’ve made here ventured out to Bali, Fiji, and Thailand, but we decided that we wanted to see more of what Australia had to offer.
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Our flight to Cairns departed early Sunday morning, so we arrived by mid-morning to a beautiful, sunny day at one of the most popular hostels in the area. I was shocked to see a resort-like pool area including a waterfall and pool volleyball net, complete with a bar only a few steps away. It looked like every young backpackers ideal hotspot to hangout, and made it easy to meet people from all over the world. We decided to take it easy our first night since we had a rainforest tour the next day, but I still had a chance to meet a number of people from Germany, Britain, and Norway.
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The next morning we were up bright and early for our full day touring the tropical rainforest. It took less than an hour to leave the beaches and enter the tropical mountainous region. Our first stop was at a wildlife park, where we had an opportunity to hold Koala bears. The Queensland region is the only area where this is legal, so we all jumped at the opportunity. I will never get over the unique animals that inhabit Australia, and wish I could bring them all back with me. We continued on to a Dantee Riverboat trip which is mnotoriously populated with the most aggressive crocodiles in the world. Since the river was high due to heavy rain, we only saw a handful of these thrilling predators. Our next short bus ride dropped us off at the foot of the rainforest, where we were guided and informed about the exclusive flora and fauna the terrain has to offer. Unfortunately it started raining on us some, but it’s contradicting to complain about rain in the rain forest. Thankfully, it cleared up on us as we reached our final destination, Cape Tribulation. This is arguably one of the most beautiful beaches in Australia since it sits in the middle of a lush rainforest.
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Our next day was something I’ve dreamed of doing even before Finding Nemo came out: scuba dive the Great Barrier Reef. The all day excursion included an introductory dive, snorkeling, and a helicopter ride over the reef! Even though the day was a bit cloudy, the vibrant colors of the coral and fish still flourished. Luckily we didn’t have to be certified to dive in the shallow water, so I jumped at the opportunity to pay a little more for a second dive. Snorkeling on top of the reef did not compare to being doing with the fish, and I got to see a reef shark and sea turtle on my second dive. Shortly after our seafood buffet was our turn to ride the helicopter. Despite it only being a 10 minute flight above the reef, the views took my breath away. I was amazed by how much I could see from above, and didn’t want my time on the reef to end. Seeing one of the seven wonders of the world from every angle was by far one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. It breaks my heart hearing how much of the reef will soon be destroyed as a result of mass soil dumping up north.

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