jump to navigation

Heron Island! April 26, 2013

Posted by sgrimes7 in Travel Log.
trackback

I’ve gotten a lot of complaints recently about not updating my blog, but in my defense it hasn’t all been out of laziness — the internet in Australia is slower than road-runner dial up in the States! However, I’m going to try to catch up by doing a lot of them tonight!

I’m not real sure where I left y’all off, but I’ll start with our trip to the Australia Zoo! I love that over here a day long trip to Steve Irwin’s zoo is considered class, nonetheless I feel like I am learning so much while I am here! The Australia Zoo was completely set up by Steve Irwin and is still run by his family! We got to hold baby alligators and watch all the shows on crocodiles, snakes, platypuses, koalas, otters, tasmanian devils, and more! This zoo was so well organized and clean. They truly care about the animals here.

Holding a baby Gator!
Holding a baby Gator!
Crocodile Show -- I felt like I was watching the Crocodile Hunter live!
Crocodile Show — I felt like I was watching the Crocodile Hunter live!
Henry the Tiger!
Henry the Tiger!
The otters cuddling!
The otters cuddling!

Lamington National Park. Here we hiked 4 trails and did a canopy walk in the tops of the trees. Sadly, my camera died halfway through the hikes, but I still got some amazing pictures of the beginning. This hike was through a very wet rainforest and the tree canopy was so thick that at one point it was pouring rain, yet we could not feel a drop. We got to see wild wallabies and kangaroos just chillen in the forest which I found so cool! Also the waterfall that the trails ended in was breathtaking! It was quite a nice day of “class”

DSC00933
A thin part of the canopy — you can actually see the sky!
481221_10151827630253782_697670499_n
Overlooking the Waterfall!
me and lindsey on the hike
me and lindsey on the hike

 

For the upcoming weekend we went to Gold Coast, Australia. We headed to the train for a 90 minute trip south of Brisbane to Gold Coast. Here, we finally caught some great weather! This weekend didn’t have much to report in the way of great adventures, but I had a ton of fun! We laid on the beach, played around with some surf boards, shopped, and went out all weekend! Somehow Lindsey, Mark, Scott, and I ended up with an awesome hostel set up! The other 12 people in our group got stuck in large 6 person rooms with sets of bunk beds and communal bathrooms, but the 4 of us got an apartment to ourselves with private rooms and bathrooms, our own kitchen, living room, and even a balcony! Leading up to the weekend here there had been massive storms so a lot of the time we were there the beaches were “closed.” However, I learned that closed to Australians merely means proceed at your own risk so we were still able to layout and swim on the beaches as well as watch some amazing surfers! I had never seen waves so high in my life — up to 12 feet tall at any time. Overall, the weekend was amazing. Just to give you an idea.. Gold Coast is considered the Las Vegas of Australia!

Our last night out in Brisbane!
Our last night out in Brisbane!
Gold Coast!
Gold Coast!
Gold Coast!
Gold Coast!
Teaching the locals about sororities!
Teaching the locals about sororities!

After an amazing weekend in Gold Coast with the first pretty weather that Australia had brought us it was back to work for our last weekend in Brisbane. Classes went by quickly with many great trips back to South bank in between. On Friday we headed off to Moreton island for the day. About 20 of us decided to do a day long tour of Moreton island which was about an hour ferry ride away. The weather was not perfect — but at least it didn’t rain! We were kept super busy starting off with a 10 am snorkel on 4 separate ship wrecks! I was so excited to get into the water and see some great stuff. The wet suits they gave us are my favorite I’ve ever worn. I know that sounds dumb, but I seriously felt like a ninja in my neon green and black wet suit. The snorkel provided us with sharks, sea turtles, and fish galore! Next, we ran to the other end of the island where we embarked on a 4-wheel drive adventure through the sand dunes at the higher elevations. This was such a cool experience, I wish I had pictures to explain it! We drove the ATVs all along the waters edge and then also through tracks and dunes. We could get up to 40 km/hour and have some real fun flying down some of the hills and around the curves! I wish I had pictures of the amazing views up there of the entire Pacific ocean. Once we were done with the ATV adventure we grabbed a quick bite and then headed to the sail boats! I had never been sailing before and I actually had no clue that there was an actual skill to being able to sail. Christo, one of the guys on my trip, took me and Lindsey on his catamaran with us and showed us the ropes though. With the conclusion of our sailing excursions it was time to head back to the ferry and get back to Brisbane before an overnight bus ride to Gladstone so we could catch an early ferry to Heron Island!

Moreton Island!
Moreton Island!
One of the ship wrecks we snorkeled through
One of the ship wrecks we snorkeled through
All of us on our ATVs
All of us on our ATVs
Sea Turtle!
Sea Turtle!
our attempt at an underwater picture!
our attempt at an underwater picture!
Sailing the pacific ocean!
Sailing the pacific ocean!
feeling like ninjas..
feeling like ninjas..

The bus ride was surprisingly fun! I had downloaded an entire season of Criminal Minds that me and Mark watched until we passed out and then awoke to being in Gladstone! The ferry ride over to Heron Island was quite a bumpy one! I, luckily, didn’t get sick, but many others had a hard time for the two hours of massive swells. Heron Island is absolutely beautiful and a rare gem to be able to experience. It is located on the southern end of the Great barrier reef. The entire island takes 20 minutes to circumnavigate and the closet land is 80 km away! The only things located on the entire island is the University of Queensland research station (where I stayed) and a small resort for special guests. The only reason we even got to go to this island is because our program director is a renowned scientist and has many permits for research on protected parks so I am very thankful for that! I got to scuba dive so many times this week it was incredible! I had never seen such diverse sea life! Just to name a few — I saw lion fish, fire corals, sharks, sea turtles, manta rays, octopus, lobsters, crabs, and more! My favorite fish were the parrot fish — they eat coral and then poop out sand, which creates islands like Heron Island. There were also so many neon blue and yellow fish. I just couldn’t believe the vast array of colors seen under the water. No one on the trip had a camera that could go 60 meters deep so sadly I have no evidence of these incredible dives. I think the most amazing thing to me was that if you didn’t chase the animals then they gladly played with you! The manta rays would circle us and play just like all the other fish. We also got super lucky that the currents and wind conditions were kind of bad meaning that many of the resort guests could not go on the dives, but because we were researchers we were allowed! One night we ate dinner and watched the sunset over the jetty and then the next morning awoke at 445 am to watch it rise on “shark bay” I will never forget those views looking out on crystal clear water with no land in site. Class on Heron Island was amazing also. Over the course of the week me, Mark, caroline, and Leonid had a project of analyzing the giant clam populations on the reef. Our goal was to determine distant gradients as related to size of the clams. Once we determined where the clams thrived our goal was to understand all aspects of that microhabitat and what allows them to survive here. We measured things such as nutrient levels, wave energy, oxygen content, and more. This week has thoroughly excited me for my future career working in biomedical science. I loved getting a tan while doing field research. I also learned so much from the researchers that work full time on Heron Island. They even let me help them capture a sea turtle and tag it to monitor its diet and habitat to determine why the turtles population is decreasing so rapidly. All in all this week was my favorite by far!

I love that this was class for me
I love that this was class for me
One of the Giant Clams I was collecting data on!
One of the Giant Clams I was collecting data on!
Huge Ray!
Huge Ray!
Sunset on Heron Island
Sunset on Heron Island
Beach day on the island!
Beach day on the island!
Sunset!
Sunset!
Lemon shark right next to me!
Lemon shark right next to me!
Bye Heron Island! I'll Miss you!
Bye Heron Island! I’ll Miss you!
Sunset on the Jetty
Sunset on the Jetty
4:45 AM sunrise on Heron Island
4:45 AM sunrise on Heron Island
4:45 AM sunrise on Heron Island
4:45 AM sunrise on Heron Island
4:45 AM sunrise on Heron Island
4:45 AM sunrise on Heron Island
4:45 AM sunrise on Heron Island
4:45 AM sunrise on Heron Island

DSC01069

4:45 AM sunrise on Heron Island
4:45 AM sunrise on Heron Island
The water was so clear in Heron Island!
The water was so clear in Heron Island!
I love the ocean!
I love the ocean!
Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: