Like most American’s when I came over to Australia I was completely oblivious to the game of rugby. Pretty much the only knowledge I had of rugby was two things: they didn’t wear pads (which I thought was not too smart because OW that would hurt) and that Matt Damon played in a movie about it (which I had yet to see). So when my friends told me they played for the schools rugby team I figured when I watched I would be fine because I had seen quite a few American football games before. How much different could it be right? Then when I went to watch a game, this is what happened..
My friend Terry going up to throw the ball in
To say the least, football and rugby have a lot less in common than I thought. Lucky for me my friend has been playing rugby his whole life, loves the game and coaches it so I learned a few differences. A) They cannot throw the ball forward B) They can kick the ball C) There is 3 different types of rugby that are all completely different in rules AND D) The only padding they wear is on their head, which is optional, and not many guys wear it. Also, unlike the US they don’t have “college teams” per say it is more club and you can keep playing until you don’t want to any more, like yesterday when I went to a game there was a man who had 3 kids! It was so weird for them to cheer on their dad while I’m cheering on my college friends. It’s actually quite scary to watch them tackle each other though, especially when you know someone.
My friend Shaun on the far right tackling the guy with the ball, it was POURING outside
Shaun again tackling someone, doesn't it look like it would hurt??
And they do this weird thing called a “scrum” where they gather around with their heads and shoulders together and push each other. I guess it is kind of like in football where they hit each other at the center line but it’s still quite confusing.
Oh and I forgot to mention, the game is ongoing. They don’t even have clocks on the field! They play until the ref calls halftime, have a little bit of time off then go at it again. But worse than that, unlike football where they stop after each play, in rugby they keep going, and going and going until someone gets a “try” (touchdown in football terms) or it goes out of bounce. Trust me, I’m no rugby expert now so I’m probably wrong about half this stuff but this is what I have gathered while watching it for a few university games and a few little kids games. I actually like watching the games because they are so fast-paced but they do get hurt. At the game yesterday it was pouring outside so everyone was slipping all over the place, my friend Terry even fractured his thumb so badly that he is out for the next few weeks with a cast on his arm! I mean it has be pretty scary when like the guy below you are at the bottom of a tackle and everyone is still playing around you..
I would be pretty scared to play this game, but it’s definitely interesting to watch especially because it is not that popular in the US. Plus all the guys love it even with the bruises and the broken bones, so as nerve-wrecking as it is to watch, I’ll continue to go to the games, just from a FAR distance away.
To end the LONG first week back to school the school’s Student Guild, an organization that allows students to enjoy free food and a relaxing atmosphere to do homework, hosted a trip to the zoo. Normally, the cost to the zoo is around $55 for a student and even higher for an adult but the Guild was selling tickets for $35 including transportation to and from the zoo, it was definitely a deal! So that friday we packed our totes full of water and snacks for the day and were off to the zoo!
The Australia Zoo is extremely famous because it was the late Steve Irwin’s zoo that he created and the one we went to was where he brought all his crocs. I found out that he even was a Senior Honorary Member and received a diploma from the university I’m attending! Not only that, but his wife and children reside only a few miles from my school! Not many people can say they go to the same school as Steve Irwin, that’s for sure. I found the zoo to actually be quite sad at times because of the large amounts of remembrance to Steve. You can tell that he was a very loving man who was passionate about animals.
From his passion though, he created this amazing zoo. There were all kinds of animals to see but what I, an animal lover/animal obsessed person, LOVED was the amount of interaction we got to have with the animals, FOR FREE! That’s right, I knew I wasn’t in the states anymore when I was allowed to feed an elephant a kiwi for the price of having my hand smell the rest of the day. We got to pet kangaroo’s, koala’s, and if we had known sooner we could have even been able to pet a tiger!
proof of me petting a kangaroo
proof of me petting a koala
We also attended a croc show where a person swam with a snake, bird roamed over your head, and a guy almost got eaten by an alligator. It was awesome, would have been a TAD cooler if his daughter Bindi did it, but it was cool none the less. After that we headed to a tiger show where a guy swam with a tiger and hugged him and treated him like he wasn’t a big 200 pound tiger planning an attack on his face. There are no words to describe how cool it was to watch a tiger jump from glass, sounds strange, but it happened.
After seeing kangaroos, koala, emu’s, elephants, tigers, giraffes, and much more we started our 20 minute journey back. Zoo’s are probably one of my favorite places to be in the world so I was one happy girl, and I plan to go back when my mom and brother arrive in May.
Flying in Australia is MUCH different than flying in America. Walking through security is a breeze! You don’t even have to take your shoes off! There were few things that you cannot take such as flammable or weapons but you could carry as much liquids as your little heart desired. What was almost scary was that you never once had to show your ID if you went got your ticket electronically so pretty much anyone could get on those planes, as long as you don’t have anything suspicious in your luggage that is.
The actual flight to Melbourne was around two hours but once we got off the flight (walked out into the night’s air to the airport) we realized we were no longer on the beautiful Whitsunday’s Islands. Instead of 32 degrees Celcius (around 90 degrees), it was around 12 (54 degrees). I had NOT packed for this kind of weather.
The first day we headed to the markets. It was a girl’s DREAMLAND. Very cheap souvenirs, jewelry everywhere and all kinds of clothing stops. On our trip to Melbourne there were only five of us so it was a lot easier to get around the shops with fewer people. The first thing I bought was $5 leggings, probably the best $5 I have ever spent because the weather did not get any warmer and me and another girl who had only brought shorts wore them for the next four days to stay warm. Another very good purchase was a “head scarf” which could be accessorized as a scarf OR a headband that covered your ears, genius!
After the markets we walked around the city for the rest of the day. It was Easter Sunday so not many things were open but we walked continually for around 10 hours. We found the cutest ally ways with graffiti and yummy places to eat. We even found a locally run shop that sold $4 subs that were bigger and better than a Subway 6″! It was amazing, especially after paying $20 a meal at the islands (not kidding, the cheapest thing was $9 and it was a bowl of potato wedges, you could buy a cheeseburger for $14 but if you wanted chips/fries you had to pay around $6!).
The following day we headed to our first adventure in Melbourne to the Great Ocean Road. It took around two hours by bus to get to our first stop: The Twelve Apostles. Beautiful does not begin to describe it. I can show you a million pictures of it and you would still not be able to understand how amazing it is to watch the water hit against the rocks. It could have been a tad warmer, it was still only in the 50′s, but it was worth it. We headed down to the beach to get a few pictures by the water when Andrew decided he wanted a picture on this rock. So my friend Becky and I headed down near the water to take his picture. Suddenly, out of NO WHERE a HUGE wave smashes into us. Unfortunately for Becky she had moved 10 steps in front of me to get a better photo and was hit with the blunt of the wave. She toppled to the ground holding both her camera and Andrew’s in the air. I tried running, lost one of my flip flops and almost went swimming like she did. Luckily, I didn’t get as wet but the water was up to my belly button! Becky had lost both of her shoes and was freezing. I saw our flip flops coming in with the next wave so Andrew and I braved the wave and ran after them, it was so scary. I literally thought I was going to be sucked into the wave and out into the ocean but we got them safely. Our guide comes running around the corner telling us to hurry the tide was coming in…as if we didn’t figure that out. Another huge wave just like the one that hit Becky and I started heading straight towards us! We screamed. But everyone got to a dry spot before the wave could hit us. Let me tell you the next hour in wet clothes in 50 degree weather was all but ideal, but it was a funny story to tell afterwards.
photo after saving my flip flops from the wave
After the Apostles we headed to a rain forest where we got to see different kinds of wildlife, not exactly the most exciting thing, but it did house the world’s deadliest snail. The snail would poison you think eat you because it a carnivore, crazy right? We didn’t stay long at the rain forest and headed towards our cottage where we would be spending the night. The driver pulled over to a trailer park of all things and told us to look up in the trees, that is where I saw my very first Koala! It was amazing they were everywhere! We went to another tree and there was one that was awake! This is not a normal occurrence because this animal is the second laziest animal in the world, it sleeps for 20 hours in a day! It was amazing.
The next day we got to do what is top ten of my favorite moments thus far and that is when we fed kangaroos. We went to a wildlife reservoir where we only had to pay a dollar to get a huge container of food. We headed out to the kangaroos first and there were probably 20 of them that had been rescued by this family run business. There was even an albino one! It was amazing to watch them dig their faces into your hands, you had to watch out for the big ones though, they were pretty smart and would dig in for the container and sometimes knock it out of your hand. This rescue center also had koala’s and tasmanian devils!
After saying goodbye to the kangaroos we headed to our last destination, Phillp Island. Phillp Island is famous for it’s Penguin Parade. I didn’t even know penguins could live in such warm climates but apparently they can. At sunset around two thousands people joined in bleachers to watch hundreds of penguins come in from the ocean to their homes. They were SO ADORABLE.
The following days in Melbourne we headed into the city and got more shopping done, perfect vacation if you ask me. The food was always a tad overpriced unless you found the right places. I did have to splurge a little and buy a $3.80 cupcake, but it was worth it, best cupcake I’ve ever had.
best. cupcake. ever
Melbourne was an amazing city and I am so happy I was able to experience it. This friday I am going to the Australian Zoo then in less than a month I will be heading to the Gold Coast to see a concert. I never want this trip to end.
While on vacation the group of us decided to do a sailing adventure to Whitehaven Beach which is widely known for having some of the whitest sands in the world. Lucky for us, the captain announced that it was one of the nicest days they had had on the water all year! Before we reached the beach we got to test out our snorkeling abilities in a small coral area near the beaches. Because it was stinger season we were advised to wear wet suits while snorkeling and it was extremely scary to see tiny jelly fish surrounding you while you are swimming. After a quick bite to eat, we headed to the beach. We took a smaller boat (as seen above) to the island and enjoyed the 90 degree weather.
Once on the beach we were able to play frisbee in the sand and take loads of pictures. According to our guide, the sand is able to even clean jewelry! There is nothing like being able to walk on a beach of that size and be able to describe it’s beauty but the most I can say was it was amazing.
The whole group in front of our sail boat!
The following day we headed out to the Great Barrier Reef. I tend to get sea sick so I was a little worried about the three hour trip to the reef but again the captain announced that this was one of the best days they have seen all year on the water! We were definitely lucky. Because we booked through a travel agency we all received a free voucher to have an exploratory scuba diving experience for 30 minutes! None of us had our scuba licenses so we did the beginners but it was 100% worth it to be able to see the Great Barrier Reef up close. I was actually surprised at the colors. When I think of the reef I think really bright colors because that is what most pictures show…This is merely a show. Pictures such as that are taken at night with large lights and very nice cameras. To take these kind of pictures with those kinds of colors would be hundreds of thousands of dollars and you would have to be a certified diver. So, we settled for the pretty pictures we got, which are not that bad either!
We received a little bit of training but we pretty much got right into scuba diving with an instructor holding on to your arm. My personal favorite part was seeing fish from Finding Nemo, if you listened close enough to me (over the bubbles that is) you would have been able to hear me scream, “NEMO!” every time I saw a clown fish.
Overall, scuba diving was one of the best experiences of my life thus far. Afterwards we were able to snorkel the remaining bits of the reef and I even went down and touched the bottom of the ocean floor!
I will forever remember the Great Barrier Reef and Whitehaven Beach they resulted in one of the best weeks of my life!
At University of the Sunshine Coast students are given a two week holiday as what we in the States would call “Spring Break”. After long hours in the student travels office, myself and ten other students decided on Whitsunday’s Island for our first week. We booked our flights and headed to the airport early one morning. The flight was only an hour and half so we were there before we knew it.
Our first stop was Airlie Beach where we stayed in a 8 person hostel called “Beaches”. Unlike places on the Sunshine Coast we were not allowed to enter the ocean because the large number of stingrays, jelly fish and sea lice but we found a lagoon close and laid by the beach for most of the day. That night we enjoyed the nightlife and were able to meet a lot of local Australians. Luckily, there were enough people that the hostel we stayed in only included us and not random people.
That morning we headed to our real destination, Long Island, which was only an hour long ferry cruise away. We settled into our four-bedroom dorm style hostel and headed out to explore. A short walk away we found a deserted beach where we climbed rocks and soaked in the sunshine. It was nearly 90 degree weather so we all got a little bit of tan. Stupidly, I forgot my shoes so I felt like a real Australian walking without shoes on and climbing tall rocks. Fortunately for me, one of the guys let me wear his flip-flops (or thongs as they call them) so I wouldn’t tear my feet to shreds. We were all extremely excited to have found this back beach because the resort we were staying at mostly included large families with dozens of children. Not exactly the perfect spring break location, but what other 20-year olds in college can say they stayed on an almost deserted island for a week? Not many.
The following day we decided to take a hike to a beach called Sandy Bay which was 4.4 km (apx. 2.7 miles) away, one way. We only got lost once and got to see amazing beaches and rain forests throughout the journey. Around half way, one of the guys goes, “Oh my gosh I almost just stuck my head in a spiders web!” We all turned around to find a HUGE spider web with a spider lounging in the middle that was around the size of my head, probably larger even. I almost died. I wanted to scream and run as far away as possible. But boys being boys, they wanted to poke at it and play with it, so the girls decided it was time to keep walking and we scurried in the other direction. After an hour and a half of walking we finally reached the beach. It was empty, not a person in sight. So we got some speakers out and had our own private day on the beach. Since we were on the beach, we thought, “Hey, let’s go in the ocean!” So we carelessly strolled out to the water. From numerous times of being on a beach, I began watching my feet when I walked. Suddenly, the sand started moving right in front of me! A HUGE stingray was swimming away from us! Needless to say, I screamed, loud. From then on my eyes were glued to the ocean bottom. I would say we probably saw about 5/6 of them just on the small walk we did. Then the group of us stopped in the middle to hang out and enjoy life. We see another ripple in the sand, thinking it’s a stingray we shuffle our feet for it to go away, but this one starts stampeding towards us! We realize it is a very large turtle charging us, so we all scream and run as fast as possible from the ocean. After that incident not many people got back in. Two boys did enjoy the water more than the rest of us though but the majority of us stayed and read books in sand. After a few hours we decided to head back. When we returned one of the guys that had been in the water a lot started complaining about his leg hurting. He pulls up his shorts and there is a huge welt on his thigh. An australian man comes over and goes, “Oh my gosh you have been stung by a jelly fish! Get vinegar on that as soon as possible!” We later found out that he could have been seriously hurt/ could have died from this sting! He got lucky though and had few symptoms, thankfully.
The next day we headed to Whitehaven beach then the following day we headed to the Great Barrier Reef (see next blog entry for more details).
Overall, it was an amazing trip and I am so glad I was able to experience it.