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Weekend in Cairns

Well, I can officially say I’ve now seen two of the seven natural wonders of the world. This past weekend was a special one as I took a mini trip to Cairns, in Northern Queensland. Although Cairns is a smaller city, its tourism industry is booming due to the fact that the city is located at the northern tip of the Great Barrier Reef. I had the opportunity to see the reef up close, which proved to be a profound experience for me.

Unlike Melbourne, Cairns has the environment and climate of a tropical rainforest. Since it’s located close to the Northern-most point of Australia, the weather patterns and geography are more similar to that of Southeast Asia and the Pacific islands. Before this trip, I had never visited a rainforest or a jungle so I was very excited to check the area out. On the first day, I went to a crocodile farm/nature park- I know that sounds strange and to be honest I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. The park staff explained that crocodile farming is actually better for the environment and crocodile species than hunting wild crocodiles, but something about it didn’t sit right with me. Anyways, that’s a story for another day.

Hanging with Arthur the kangaroo

The highlight of my time at the crocodile farm was holding a koala! They are just as soft as they look and quite slow and gentle. I also got to feed wallabies and kangaroos, and of course I saw plenty of crocodiles. In between this trip and the reef trip I checked out the beaches around Cairns- which are beautiful by the way. Unfortunately I was told by several locals that you absolutely cannot go to the beach at night because that’s when the crocodiles hunt, and they don’t often discriminate when considering prey. I wanted to make it back to Melbourne so I didn’t do any night swimming.

Koala hugs are the best hugs

The reef trip was a full day experience and I had to get to the boat early on Sunday morning. I went on a tour by a locally-owned company that offers snorkeling and scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef. I’m a little intimidated by the idea of scuba diving so I stuck to snorkeling, which turned out to be perfect. We were to able to snorkel at two different locations on the reefs and between the two I must have seen several hundred species of fish. I was also one of the lucky few people who got to see a shark! Just floating in the water, admiring the fish and the plants and the coral was an out-of-body experience. I knew this before going on the trip, and the crew made a point to discuss it, but the Great Barrier Reef is in serious danger to due humans. Huge sections of reef have been dying every year as global warming becomes more of a threat. I’m so grateful that I was able to appreciate this natural wonder without harming it, and I hope others will realize the impact we have on our environment so we can make changes now.

Well, I had a nice break from reality but it’s time to get back to classes. I’m keen to work on some projects!

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