Kondalilla Falls “rushing water”

 

Because we had a car we decided to take a little road trip to the Kondalilla Falls. This was not the smartest idea because it was the middle of winter and it was raining. We figured we wanted the full effect of a rain forest while it was raining because if you go to a rain forest when it’s not raining then it’s just a forest right?

Pictures do not describe how beautiful this place actually was. To see real waterfalls and the green trees as they sparkled with fresh rain water was more than beautiful. A little wet and cold, but beautiful.

Friends of ours had visited this place in the summer and were able to jump into the water by hanging ropes and enjoy the scenery around them. Well, Andrew, Shaun and I decided we were not going to let a little winter slow us down from enjoying the beautiful water. So, we decided to bring our suits along and jump into the water, for the experience right? Wow, I have to say that was probably the coldest water I have ever been in. I mean, SO cold that as soon as you got out of the water you probably lost 50 calories because your whole body goes into overdrive and suddenly you’re warm, really warm. I have to say though as cold as it was it was 100% worth it because we all had to do it twice.

You cannot tell by the picture but I am literally shaking it was so cold and rainy but wow was it amazing. I’d do it all over again if I could. :)

Driving in Aussie

Not many people can say they have driven on not one but both sides of the road in their lifetime and I am lucky enough to say that I have. At first I thought it was going to be extremely scary I mean you even get in on the passenger side which blew my mind the first time I got into a person’s car. But I guess I was merely over thinking it because once I got behind the wheel it felt as natural as driving back home. Well, as natural as it can be. The petals were still in the same place and the seat was positioned just the way I liked it but back home I drive a jeep so driving a tiny car was a little strange. Plus the turn signals were on the right side and up was to go left and down was to go right. What I learned right away was if you mistake your lefts and rights and put up the left lever by accident and not the turn signal you get the windshield whippers instead. Let’s just say the first few times getting behind the wheel it should have been raining. 

What I had to drive through

I was lucky enough to get the shift where we drove through the mountains, day and night. By driving through the mountains I mean at some points there weren’t any lines on the road which was confusing and some parts were so narrow you felt like if a car drove beside you you’d for sure crash. Not only this, but there were so many hills that the car was exhausted and kept making loud sighing noises. But it was fun and it kept my eyes on the road. And it was beautiful. Although it wasn’t the nicest day out the trees were an amazing green. It was definitely a sight to see.

 

 

G’day Outback

Our initial plan was to rent a car and drive the 9 hour journey to a highway that would hopefully lead us to the glorious outback. Well, that was the plan at least. But as we were talking through the mini road trip and going through google pictures our Australian friend Emily goes, “All these pictures look like my home town, what do you guys really want to see?” “Nothing” Andrew and I responded. And we didn’t because we wanted to be on a road where we saw nothing, just like the Outback Steakhouse commercials. Emily showed us pictures of her hometown and we figured we should go to her house which was only a 2 1/2 hour drive and see her hometown. This way we could stop and see pretty nothingness AND see her hometown which she considers is in “the bush”. So Andrew and I did a large leap of faith and rented a car (you have to have your open license in order to drive in Australia which not many Aussies have until their middle-20s and American’s automatically have theirs).

Our cute little rental car for five days

Our first stop was at Hannibal’s Bucket which is basically a GIANT bucket, we could have even fit the car in it! But it was a rental so we didn’t.

Our first stop

Entered the small town of Nanango which means "a place of water"

Next, we went to a partially scary little town called “Cherbourg”. It’s an Indigenous town in the middle of no where that Andrew and Emily learned about in their Indigenous Australia class. This would be compared to a Native American territory in the states. It was interesting to see how the Aboriginals lived. Even more interesting was the sign right before you got into Cherbourg that prohibited large amounts of alcohol to be consumed in this town. Namely, there was only allowed to be a case of beer (36 beers nothing stronger) per person or car each night. This was the first place in Australia that I saw that there was a limit on alcohol.

Outside of small Indigenous town called "Cherbourg"

Our next stop was my favorite of the whole trip; Coomba Falls. This place would have been amazing to swim and visit in the summer time but it was just as beautiful in the winter.

Standing tall at Coomba Falls

We ate our lunch here and because it was winter we had the place to ourselves. We took full advantage by taking funny pictures by the pretty rocks and the amazing scenery.

Falling off rocks

This road trip lasted three days and we were lucky enough to stay in Emily’s hometown of Yarraman. This town only has a population of 700 people so it was quite small. Here is where I enjoyed my first home cooked meal for the first time in months!

Emily's hometown named Yarraman which means "wild horse"

But what was even more amazing than that was I got to feel like a real Australian because I got to see red dirt. Not just any red dirt, no, Australian red dirt. This did not seem so exciting for Emily or even for Shaun who has been here for a little while but for Andrew and I to see red dirt we finally felt like we were in the Australian Outback. We got to feel and see red dirt which not many Americans can say. I was more than excited to say the least. Overall it was an amazing road trip and I’m so glad I was able to see how Australian’s really live.

 

Having to say goodbye

Our home cooked meal

Saying goodbye is never easy, ever. You want to tell them, “See you later” or “See you soon” but you never know if that will actually happen. On the plus side, most of the people leaving go to schools around the U.S. so it is possible to see each other again. But as a last little celebration for the one’s leaving soon we decided to have a little family dinner that turned into a large feast. This consisted of all different kinds of food including, spinach and artichoke dip with baguette bread, potato bake, pasta bake, macaroni and cheese, lasagna, chicken and shrimp skewers, na’an bread, and quesadillas with tomato, sour cream and guacamole. That wasn’t all, we also had cupcakes, tim tams, hot chocolate, and brownies for dessert. Needless to say, we were in a food coma after eating.

The Family Dinner

Everyone brought something and with 12 people it was definitely a lot of food and a lot of leftovers. It was pretty amazing, it was like going to a restaurant but having all your favorite foods readily available, you didn’t have to choose just one. But by the end of the night it started to hit the people that were leaving the next morning that their Aussie journey was coming to an end. Friends that we have made throughout the semester came to say their goodbyes and wish each other luck in the future.

The girls one last time all together

Although it was sad to see them go I was lucky enough to have become friends with them throughout the semester. Thankfully, I changed my ticket to stay just a little longer and have a little over 3 weeks left on my journey. But I know I cannot take these last few weeks for granted and do as much as possible before I come back to the states. Well, I could always do things I don’t do now on my next visit because I know this will not be my last time in Australia. ;)

Time to Study

Unfortunately it is that time of year here at the Sunshine Coast where it is starting to get chilly and not so sunny. Instead of my tank tops and short-shorts I’ve been wearing jeans and a sweatshirt. But on the bright side, it is almost exam time so everyone is studying away which with the cold weather is A LOT easier because you aren’t nagged by the weather to go lay out in the sun. In saying this, I do not mean to say I’m excited about writing exams, no, far from it. Especially because unlike at Queens, my two psychology exams count for 40% of my final grade. So these next two weeks are going to be filled with personality theorists and health psychology. Fortunately, the school gives a whole week for study break and my exams are not until the second week so I have two weeks to study. So no more Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest for me. Time for studying.

Wish me luck! :)

A Day at the Races

 

 

In North Carolina everyone told me about how big Carolina Cup is and I was disappointed to have to miss it another year. Fortunately for me, in Australia they also have horse races and at UniCentral (where I’m staying for the semester) everyone was excited for them. The races started early so we had to wake up pretty early to get ready. I mean people went all out just like it was the Kentucky Derby with the big floppy hats and the wedge high heels. I got out one of my nice Lilly dresses and got prepared for the races.

Joe and I

Shane and I

Before heading to the races, we all met at ‘The Pav’ (which is basically the hang out place with a pool table, ping-pong table, etc.) to pictures, I mean, we were all dressed up of course we had to take pictures. It was really fun to see all the girls and guys dressed up to the nines for this fancy (and what I consider Southern) event. We ended up going to the races at around 12:30. There was live music, really good pizza, and a lot of horses. Which I have to say didn’t make the place smell as bad as I thought it would. Unfortunately, it wasn’t that nice of a day out and was a little chilly but it was still exciting. No, I did not bet, everyone asks me if I put money on a horse but I’m not one for gambling so I was not about to waste money on a running horse. We still picked our favorites and hoped they won..Just weren’t crushed and out of $50 if they didn’t. Overall, it was a really fun day and it felt a little bit like being back in North Carolina for the day.

the girls

 

 

Professional Rugby: A Sport That Makes NFL Look Easy

Red's Vs. Lion's Game!

As I have said in prior blogs, rugby is kind of a big deal in pretty much every country except the United States and let me tell you we are missing out. On Saturday I went to my first professional rugby game in Brisbane. The Queensland Red’s (Australia) were playing against the Lions (South Africa). I haven’t been to many professional sports games, besides maybe baseball games, so I did not know what to expect. But the Aussies take this game seriously. Everyone was cheering and screaming, just like you see on TV. The weirdest thing was you could buy your normal hot dog and fries like any American game but you could also buy fish and chips or calamari, it was strange. But the actual game was intense.

 

 

Plus these men are HUGE! One of their legs is the size of two of mine. I wouldn’t want to mess with one of them let alone try and tackle them. Especially because it seems like every game I watch/go to someone gets carted off the field. I swear the medics get as much of a work out as the players do. But just like any American game, someone started the wave. And once you start the wave you can’t just stop the wave, so the wave went on for a while, it did look pretty awesome though. Unfortunately, even though I was wearing my friend’s South African jersey in support they couldn’t beat Australia. But I noticed by wearing the shirt I was a little outnumbered at an Australian stadium and when someone was rooting for South Africa they’d make sure to let my friend and I know. It was a pretty awesome game though, I’ll definitely have to go to another.

A little piece of home

Having my mom and brother here was almost like a dream because by the time they got here it seemed like it was already time for them to leave. They stayed in this amazing hotel that even had a slide! So instead of doing work I just had to lay by the pool and relax for a few days, that was until I actually had to go to class, yeah like my mom was going to let me skip class…I think she thought about letting me though ;).

My mom and I by the pool

My brother and I decked out in our USC gear

The only problem with the hotel my mom and brother stayed at was the fact that it was a 11-35 minute bus ride (depending on time of day, the day, and how many people decided to go to the Uni that day). We learned quickly that if we took the 615 it would only take around 10-15 minutes but if we took the 616 it was near the 15-35 minute range..Public transportation… Something I will not miss when I come back to the states. But something I will is the gelato (amazing italian ice cream). The U.S. has bans on gelato probably because it has something bad in it but whatever it is it is amazing. The ice cream place next to their hotel was good as well, it was called Cold Rock. Yes, much like the U.S.’s Cold Stone, but with an Aussie twist. I got cheesecake with passionfruit. It was amazing.

YUM

Alexandra Headlands (where they stayed) is only a bus ride away but I never really experienced it until my mom and brother stayed there. Now that I have seen all that it can offer I will definitely try to go there more often :)

Sydney Harbor Bridge

I loved my experience on the Sydney Harbor Bridge so much that I had to write a whole blog dedicating to it. Max told me how amazing this bridge climb was so after talking my mom into it we finally decided to take the very last climb to the top. I think my mom and brother were convinced after seeing all kinds of stars that had done it like Oprah Winfrey, the Glee cast, and much, much more. I mean if Oprah can do we can right? But before we could climb we had to sign a bunch of waivers and disclaimers like, “if you have this, this, or that you may not climb”. I, of course, was not wearing the right shoes so I had to stick my pretty toes into socks and shoes that were not my own but they were actually pretty comfy come to find out. After all the signing we headed into a room to change and had to put on MC Hammer like outfits, they were pretty awesome, I’d wear one some day…maybe Halloween. Our guide wanted us to get to know the rest of the group, there was 11 of us all together. In the introduction we had to say our name and where we were from. Come to find out 4 people were from Sydney and the rest of the group was from Michigan! Not only Michigan (where I grew up) but they were studying abroad for 2 weeks from Saginaw Valley State University which is the school I previously attended before transferring to Queens! It was so weird! I was pretty much mind blown that of all the people to run into we ran into 4 girls in our group from SVSU and then 3 more in the group before us. I thought it was cool. Anyways, after we got changed we had to do a little practice round on a small mini bridge they had set up which we all passed with flying colors. Next was the fun part, the climb. We started slow, walking through tunnels and what night then we saw it. Sydney at night.

It is a tad blurry because it is a picture of a picture but this is Sydney Harbor Bridge at night!

It was such an amazing view to see the Opera House all lit up.

I then of course had to represent my sorority Kappa Delta on top of the bridge

It was amazing, but I have not even got to the best part because it is hard to describe such an amazing view but I can describe what happened next. We moved on to the very top of the Sydney Harbor Bridge. Our tour guide turns to us and says,

“When you go through this little opening and step under the red light make a wish because if any wish were to come true it’s one where you are the only person in the world that is on top of the Sydney Harbor Bridge at the moment and you are one of the last ones to experience that for the rest of the night.”

So we waddled (you saw the jumpers you literally almost had to waddle) up to the top and all of us stopped under the light to make a wish. A couple behind us stops while the rest of the group keeps walking ahead. They are right under the red light, anyone could guess what happened next. Yup, he dropped down on one knee, in my head I pictured him saying, “the only wish I ever want to come true is for you to be my wife” or something cute and cheesy along those lines. My brother kind of ruined it by telling the rest of the group, “aw look he’s asking her to marry him!” So then of course the whole group stops to stare, which would have been really bad if she said no so our guide tried to distract us by saying like hey look a ferris wheel over there, but she didn’t say no because then she started to smile and kiss him. It was adorable I was so glad I got to experience it. When it was confirmed that she said yes our guide announced that there has been 3,000 proposals on this bridge and now there has been 3,001 and I was there to experience it! I don’t even think Oprah got to see that!

Group picture, the two on the far right are the lucky couple (both doctors too)

It was definitely one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen and seeing a proposal on the top made it that much better. Because of this and all that happened in Sydney it will definitely be a memory I will never forget!

 

SYDNEY!

my mom and I on the boat cruising around Sydney

SYDNEY! Most people associate the Sydney Opera House with Australia, much like the Statue of Liberty in the U.S. so when I was about to head to AU I had numerous people telling me (regardless if they had been here or not) to go to the Sydney Opera House. I was lucky enough to stay only one night, in a very, extremely scary hostile (like one you would see in movies with cockroaches and everything, it was so ekky!) and enjoy the night life with a few of my friends and the rest of the weekend with my mom and brother. My mom and brother flew into the Sydney Airport on Friday morning and I met them at their hotel and was able to avoid the bullet of staying at the scary hostile another night like my friends did (they did not even have free pancakes like advertised, I think that was the most disappointing). After we rested for a while we headed down to Patty’s Markets. Beforehand we had to walk through China Town which is much like New York’s China Town but a little smaller. My friend asked me to find them these candies called White Rabbits and I was determined to find them. So, I went into around 6 different shops asking for these candies and none, I mean none of these people spoke much English. Every time I would ask them they would reply, ‘No, no we no have no rabbits, only kangaroos and koalas’. Which I assume they meant the stuffed animals but I never stuck around to ask. Eventually I gave up and accepted defeat and went shopping at the markets for clothes and jewelry instead, it was cheap too.

But that first night we were in Sydney we got to experience the real Aussie treatment by going to see Shakespeare’s Macbeth, a dramatic play, in the Sydney Opera House. Not only did we get to watch it but we were in the FRONT row! I mean close enough to watch them sweat! It was AMAZING. My mom and brother were a tad jet lagged and dozed off a little, I mean I have read the book 3 times and still can hardly understand Shakespearian language, but I was wide awake and thoroughly enjoyed the show.

My brother and I waiting for the train to see Macbeth

After a good night’s rest we headed to the docks for a cruise around Sydney. Our first stop was a place called Watson’s Bay. It did not seem all that interesting at first, then we went into this little restaurant for some food and ordered a muffin. I have to say it was the most delicious muffin I have EVER tasted! If anyone ever goes to Watson’s Bay go to this little cafe before you get to the sight seeing area, I’d tell you the name but I googled it and I cannot find it. This muffin was HUGE and it had pieces of pear and cinnamon in it, oh man, SO yummy. I could quite possibly live off those every morning it was that good. Not only was Watson’s Bay good for food but it also had amazing views.

The view from Watson's Bay

Once we headed back on the boat, we headed to Darling Harbor. This is where the real fun began because we had a little bit of a culture shock. The day we were visiting was actually Buddha’s birthday. Because of this, there was a large festival in his honor with real Monk’s and a lot of different kinds of foods to try. My brother really like Asian food so he tried something which I can only describe as chicken on a stick with peanut buttery tasting sauce. It doesn’t sound that good but it definitely was.

Another interesting thing we found at Darling Harbor was a street performer that my brother wanted to stop and watch for. It was a pretty woman dressed in athletic gear and was stretching. Sounds boring right? Well it was until she started moving her leg behind her head, she was a contortionist and she needed a helper from the audience. That was when my brother got called on to be a helper, which I thought was funny because he was the one who wanted to stop and of course she would pick him he was the biggest guy in the crowd. She first made him pick her up while both her legs were behind her head, it was pretty funny to watch. Then, she told him to lay down and put his hands on her shoulders, this was her next trick…

My brother and the contortionist

For her final act she asked my brother to hold a latter for her, this was what we watched from afar…

she got in that little box

Overall, it was a pretty amazing show and a pretty amazing day. For my brother that was probably his favorite part of Sydney, mine is in my next blog: The Sydney Harbor Bridge.