Sunday, November 11, 2012

Last Day in Tassie

I can't believe it! Tonight I am leaving Tasmania, for good. I really hope to make it back here one day, but we'll have to see about that.

My time abroad really flew by. I feel like I have just gotten comfortable here, and now it's time to go! It's not easy. Leaving a place is always harder than arriving. Saying goodbye to everyone I have met is even harder. I know I will keep in touch with everyone, but its not the same as living with them in Tasmania. No more SoHo, Tele, Mobius, BBQs, Pepperz, Salamanca, or hills of Hobart.

As I reflect on my expectations and first few days here I realize that Tasmania was not what I expected at all. But it was just what I needed from a study abroad. This experience has opened my eyes to so many new points of view and has also made me realize how beautiful life is. There were ups and downs, and I'm sure that when I get home I'll be down again, wishing I could climb the hill to Christ College one more time. But the memories will have to be enough.

The rock at Christ
one of my last times climbing the hill!

I will always remember you, Tassie! Next stop, Melbourne.

Sunday, November 4, 2012


Yesss! I took my last exam today and it went pretty well. :) PLUS, it's summer time -- feelin' good! It's a strange feeling, because then in a month it will be winter again. o_0

Friday, November 2, 2012


 So, I would love to share with you some Australian culture and reveal what SWOT VAC stands for, but to be honest I still have no idea. It's supposed to represent the time period Uni gives to students for studying before the exam period, but I have asked around and nobody seems to know what the acronym stands for exactly.

Adventure Bay, Bruny Island
Anyway, the "study week" has been good. I had a couple week between the end of classes and my first exam, so it was pretty much a vacation for a while. Last weekend I got to go to Bruny Island for another camping trip. It was probably my last one, and what an adventure it was. We had a group of 3 car loads going, all aiming to catch a 3:45 ferry. The trip started off with my car and another missing that one and having to catch the next ferry across the bay to Bruny. The ferry ride was only about 15 minutes, though, so it's all good. I was rushing with excitement once we got on the island and headed toward our camping destination "Adventure Bay". I had also expressed interest in WWOOFing on Bruny, at a berry farm on Adventure Bay so as we got closer and I started to see the signs I couldn't contain myself. It is a quaint little island, with one gas station and one main road, but beautiful beaches, just as expected.

Still Adventure Bay!

some Cloudy Bay surf
The first night was a blast. We built a huge fire on the beach, and made it just in time for the sun to go down and the moon to come up. I was with all my favorite internationals I have met in Tassie so far and grabbed some yummy Rekorderlig cider for the night, couldn't have been better! The next morning I woke up to a steamy tent and stepped outside greeted by cloudless skies and the mighty sun. We pretty much had this small bay to ourselves for the morning, sharing it only with a bird nesting area. After some frisbee on the beach, soaking up the sun, and a dip in the water, I went with others to explore the island a bit more. We drove south to Cloudy Bay, a great surf spot where the waves were big and plentiful. To get to Cloudy Bay, though, we had to trek our borrowed '92 Subaru through an off road mountain trail. I don't think she liked that very much...we started to notice even louder sounds than normal on our way back to Adventure Bay. About 3 minutes up the road from our campsite, the car gave up and we had to pull to the side. Luckily we didn't break down while we were off roading, and found a man with the heaviest Australian accent I have ever heard to point us in the right direction. I don't know much about cars, and it still stands a mystery what happened to the Subaru that day, but I am glad we had 2 other working cars there. Even though we had to maneuver shuttles to the ferry and a tow back to Hobart, the last night was another good one. The moon was even brighter and I was just happy I wasn't stranded in the middle of the island.

Broken Down :(

View of the sun going down outside my tent

Unfortunately I don't think the berry farm will work out for me because they already have WWOOFers, so I am glad I got to see the island when I did. The rest of my week was spent studying, a little Halloween fiesta, and my last trip to the art school to pick up my projects. I'm feeling heaps less anxious about my next move now that one of my exams is done and after talking to a farm near Melbourne.


Life Drawing

Only one more exam to go -- Cognitive Neuroscience o_0 -- and a week and a half left in Tassie.

Time to live it up ...and start planning classes/living arrangement for next semester. Oi!
Bye-bye life drawing room!!

Last time walking down the art school  steps!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Wanna go to the seaside?

It's finally hitting me that my time is Tasmania is quickly coming to an end, and it is very bittersweet. I just got back from an exciting night on Little Beach where we joined heaps of locals in what turned out to be a mini music/camping festival. It was a joyous night including crazy Tasmanians, awesome (and very loud) live music, beer battered sausages on the fire, and cozy walks to the beach.

Bands setting up on stage &
people enjoying the beach in the back
I can't even describe how great it felt to dance on white sand to multiple covers of "Seaside" by the Kooks with the waves and sand right behind the stage. It was definitely a night to remember and it's made me realize how much I will miss Tassie. If the spectacular views weren't enough, the easy going attitude and eccentric personalities will make me nostalgic towards this island for ages.

In other news, it's time to start planning my next move! I'll be finished with Uni for good on November 5th and will not be flying home until December 6th. In between I plan on working/staying on a couple different farms with the Australian WWOOF organization. I've just started contacting farms, but there are so many opportunities, many of which seem right up my ally. Hopefully I will start in Tasmania on Bruny Island, either on a berry farm or an art studio/vegie farm. Then I hope to find either two places or one very fitting one in the Melbourne area. And for the grand finale, I'll be meeting up with a fellow Clarkie AJ O'Mahoney in New Zealand for more adventures.

So although my time is coming to an end, I have plenty of excitement coming my way. Never the less, I am going to miss everyone I've gotten close to over the last few months! It's hard to believe I will never see some of them again. There's talk of a Tassie reunion in the future, so hopefully it won't be forever.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Winding Down

Today was my last day of classes at the Uni! Wahoooooo. I still have 2 projects to finish by Monday and 2 final exams in a couple weeks, but now I pretty much get to relax and enjoy Tassie. After camping the past 2 weekends, Tasmania has become a whole new place for me. It really is full of beautiful nature. Last weekend on my camping trip with the girls, I got to see Wineglass Bay, again! But this time I decided to take a different trail which took me around the bay to an even more remote beach. It was one of the best hikes I've ever done, with incredible views of the coast as well as rocky mountains above.

Took Hazards Circuit, a great 5 hour walk
Funny lookin rock?

View from my hike

New beach (beyond that mountain is Wineglass)

Bay of Fires, so pretty!

Our campsite, best I will ever have
After Wineglass we headed north to Bay of Fires. Now this place is out of a dream. We camped right on the beach that night, snuggled between the famous orange rocks. The girls slept in their tents while I cuddled up in my sleeping bag next to the fire right under the stars. It was perfect....until the fire went out. Then it was really cold. Still, waking up to the sunrise (then going right back to sleep) was an unforgettable experience. We drove even further up the coast on Sunday to see more of Bay of Fires. The drive was like a mix between what I would expect to see in Scotland and a tropical island -- rolling hills with plenty of free land and farm, and then breathtaking views of the ocean and cliffs, with little to none population in between.

Bay of Fires as the sun set
The lonely but beautiful road up the east coast of Tassie
Artsy moccasin photo :)

Once we had seen more of Bay of Fires we thought we would head west to Launceston, thinking it would take less than an hour to get there. Little did we know, the road there was a winding forest drive and took 3 hours. When we finally reached Launceston I couldn't help but be reminded of the small towns at home in Connecticut. It seemed like a pretty quiet town, with its only tourist stop being the Cataract Gorge. The Gorge was really refreshing after the long drive. We walked around the basin and over this long bridge to look out to the flowing water in the ravine. It was nice to be enjoying the sun at what seemed to be a popular local spot.

Cataract Gorge (SUN!)

It's definitely starting to feel like spring and this trip was the perfect reminder.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Spring & Wineglass Bay

Spring is finally here! Well, almost. It's getting a lot nicer, besides the heaps of rain and wind. The other day I was walking in the CBD (Central Business District), about to cross the road and the wind pushed me half way into the street!

Luckily the weather was fairly nice this past weekend for a spontaneous camping trip to Wineglass Bay, or Freycinet National Park, about 2 hours from Hobart. I went with a whole group of study abroaders from Colorado. We left Friday night, so we didn't get into the park until it was dark out. After searching for about 20 minutes for a hidden road to the Coles Bay campsites we set up our tents right next to the beach and immediately started a fire. It was an awesome night. The stars down under are absolutely mind blowing. Since I'm on a fairly unpopulated island in the southern hemisphere, not only was the sky completely different, but it was brighter than I have ever seen before. Plus, we could see the Milky Way! I wish I got a photo of the stars, but I'll definitely be camping again so just hold on a bit longer. :)

The beach by our original campsite
After a fun night we woke up to a cloudy day, and were soon told by the ranger that where we had set up camp is a sacred Aboriginal spot. So we respectively picked up our tents and moved away from the beach. I feel lucky to have spent the night there, though. Despite the clouds and chilly weather, a few of the boys and I decided to adventure out for a walk. After looking at a map of Freycinet, we decided to check out "The Nuggets" first. It was an easy walk path along some really gorgeous cliffs. The cloudy day made the whole walk even more dramatic, you could barely make out the sea from the sky and the waves were pretty intense.

The Nuggets!

A view of the cliffs

After that refreshing walk, we headed back to camp to warm up, grill some food, and take a nap. I had forgotten how relaxing camping is. You never worry about time or tasks, the only thing that matters is lighting the fire and cooking your food -- and who doesn't love playing with some fire! We didn't stay up too late the second night, we had a longer walk planned for Sunday. When we woke up, the weather was absolutely perfect for a hike. We packed up camp and headed down the road to do the 4 hour Wineglass Bay walk. The half to the viewing point was a piece of cake, we finished that in less than an hour. Then we headed down to the beach...way down. I thought we were never going to hit sea level, but once I heard some waves I ran the rest of the way down. As soon as I turned the corner and stepped onto the beach I was greeted by some wild wallabies. They are so friendly and cuuute! Soon enough the rest of the group caught up to me and we sought out a spot to eat our lunch. The orange rocks were perfect, besides the scavenging sea gulls. After lunch we played some foot tag on the beach and some of them went swimming, but the water was wayyy too cold for me.

Amazing view of Wineglass Bay!

Group shot!

Hellllo beach :)


Such cool rocks!

The hike back was a little rough...going down was a piece of cake, but it was quite the climb on the way back. Eventually we made it back to the car and headed back to Hobart in hopes of making it back while the sun was still up. Luckily, we had just gained an hour of daylight that day from Daylight Savings, so it was a successful mission.

I'm excited to go back again this weekend. :) That's the good thing about being a "floater".. you get lots of chances to go places. This weekend we'll be camping right on the beach at the Bay of Fires. I've heard it's really nice, and this time I'll be with my ladies so that should be fun.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

74 Islands in the Sun

I've been putting off this post because I know it's going to be a long one. It's finally time to share my holiday adventure to the mainland. Please excuse my cliche remarks.

It started August 30th, a Thursday, when I finished my early morning Life Drawing class and commenced packing my bags to leave that night. I wasn't really sure what was in store for that week ahead, only that it would be one epic trip. While I was packing, I realized that I was going to be in a new place almost every night. I started to get 5-year-old excited and the 20 minute walk to my friends' share house seemed like my stairway to heaven. I had the pleasure of taking this journey with three other Americans, Chelsey, Paige, and Alexander, along with a lovely German, Sarah. (Side note, it's always good to bring a German backpacking, especially a business major.)

We got to Hobart's tiny little airport and bombarded the place with our excitement. It didn't even matter that our flight to Sydney was a little late, as long as we were headed to a warm place with heaps of people. The flight was really fast, and soon enough we were finding our way to our first Australian hostel,  Asylum, in King's Cross. None of us were quite sure where King's Cross was, or what it would be like. We had only heard that it was the best night life district in Sydney. So basically, we followed the girls with 6 inch heals and no clothes. After an awkward train ride seated across from a few Kiwis commenting on how naturally related the 5 of us looked, we emerged in King's Cross searching for Asylum. It was conveniently situated down a dark ally, right around the corner from the bottle-shop. As we hesitantly walked up the steps to what seemed like another night club, Sarah sweet talked our way inside with more Germans, a trend that would follow her throughout the trip. Needless to say, we immediately made friends and had a fun night, making the next morning full of tourist stops a bit of a challenge. After walking for about one block, I forgot about my pounding headache, realized I was in a beautiful city for only one day, and let the fun begin.

The group on the way to Darling Harbour
So happy !

Getting so close to the Opera House!
The walk we took to the Opera House through the botanical gardens was fantastic. It was such a nice day, with the sun shining and a cool breeze. As we approached the tall steps to the Opera House I thought there was no way the building could get better looking. But when we got up close the sun was shining on the curved tile facade, illuminating the spheric architectural features. We weren't able to go inside of the Opera House, I guess I'll have to save that one for a later date. It was still mesmerizing from the outside.
The sun's reflection was almost blinding

After our site seeing ventures, we were all getting a bit tired. Chelsey and I decided to give napping in the grass a go. I only caught a few minutes of sleep amongst the city sounds and didgeridoo music in the background, but I am proud to add such an awesome spot to my napography list. When we got back to the hostel we picked up a delicious pepperoni and mushie pizza, and prepared ourselves for the next stop in our trip-- Hamilton Island. The next flight was an early one, but it didn't bother me at all knowing I would be stepping off the plane onto a warm island near the barrier reef. I sat next to a former Whitsunday islander on the plane, who's genuinely excited facial expression as we prepared for landing gave me high hopes for this part of the trip.

Treasure Island?

The gang at the lagoon
There are 74 islands in the Whitsundays. We touched down on Hamilton Island around noon, greeted by warm sunny weather. I didn't want to leave the island so soon, but we had to catch a ferry to Able Point Marina and find our hostel in Airlie Beach. We checked into Beaches Backpackers, were welcomed into our hall by a huge spider, and immediately found a travel agent to help us book our activities. We had 3 days in Airlie, the most time in one place for the entire trip. After finding the package of cruises that best suited us, we wanted to get to know the town a little bit. It's not very big -- the downtown area is only a few blocks long full of tourist shops, bars, and internet cafes. What it lacked in size, though, it made up for in adventure. Our first night out on the town was a blast. We started at the Beaches bar and met some really nice locals throughout the night. My favorite memory is probably the moment we ran into an Aussie who recognized our American accents and got us all belting out "God Bless the USA".

Reef World!
Bright and early the next morning we got on a boat that would take us through the cluster of islands and to the outer reef. Cruise Whitsundays has a boat island set up out there called "Reef World", where you can snorkel, dive, water slide, or just hang in the sun. It was a long, choppy journey to Reef World; heaps of passengers were getting sick to their stomach. I'm proud to say I avoided motion sickness the whole time. I found sitting on the top deck not only gave you more fresh air and stability, but incredible views of the ocean. I've never seen water as bright blue as it is around the reef. It's a really fascinating sight. It only got better once we finally stopped moving and were able to hang out on Reef World. Snorkeling was one of the most fulfilling experiences I've had here. There was such a strong current that day, which made swimming around an exciting challenge. The fish were just as colorful as I expected, and the reef more textured than I could have imagined. The ride back to the islands was bittersweet -- I was excited to go out on the town again that night, but sad that this experience I've been dreaming about was already over!

A lovely crew member took this of me on the way back =]

Map of our sailing adventure,
we finished by looping back around
The next day would bring just as much pleasure, though. We were up early again, this time boarding a sailboat named "Camira". It was a perfect day the sail through the islands -- plenty of wind and sun. We were greeted by a quirky crew, who did an awesome job of making sure we all made the most out of the sailing trip. We got to see heaps of whales resting on the surface of the water, sometimes in the pair of mother and calf. The main destination of the sailing trip was Whitehaven beach -- the most notable beach of all the islands. I've never been to such a perfect beach. Seeing as it is on an island, it wasn't crowded. The sand is the type that makes funny noises when you walk on it. There is a national park with wild animals and fauna. Most importantly, the water is calm and warm since it is protected from the current by the reef. Swimming and simply floating in that water was paradise.

The girls on Whitehaven!

View from the bow of Camira
We only stayed on Whitehaven beach for a couple hours before we got back on Camira and kept sailing. Our next stop was a cove where we could snorkel again. I chose to skip this time, I figured it couldn't beat snorkeling on the reef. Instead, I caught some zzz's in the sun on the boat. Those two Whitsunday adventure days were very tiring, but worth every minute. I feel like I've really gotten a taste for the Australian life on the water, and it's a good one.

We decided to take it easy our last day in Airlie beach. It was another beautiful day, so we just hung out at the lagoon almost all day in the sun. After getting our daily meal at the Beaches bar, we went out only to say goodbye to some of the locals we met. In preparation for a day full of driving starting early in the morning, we went home and repacked our bags. We were about half way done with the trip, but already seen so much! I couldn't wait to get on the road.

Pretty much the view I got the whole drive

Cute set up in the chapel of the cave
We started the road trip off strong, with high hopes of making it from Airlie beach to Hervey bay within a day (the locals laughed at us). We didn't realize how much construction/traffic there would be in between. It was still an enjoyable ride, not that there was much to see besides open fields and signs reminding drivers to stay awake. On the way down we took a detour to the Capricorn Caves. Luckily we caught the last tour of the day and got to see the cave's chapel. It's one cave among the group that has been set up like a chapel, where heaps of people choose to get married. At first I was like, uh, who wants to get married in a cave? But after we listened to "Hallelujah" and heard the amazing natural acoustics, I was convinced. Our guide told us that the acoustics of the cave are even comparable, if not better, than the Sydney Opera House's. A wedding there would actually be pretty adorable, all quaint and intimate.

Looking down on Sunshine Beach
The caves were a really nice break from driving. Then we were back on the road for a few hours to Hervey Bay. In the morning we had a lovely breakfast on the beach, but didn't stay for too long. Next stop was Noosa Heads, only a few hours away. When we made it to Noosa we checked into Dolphins Backpackers, a relaxed feel-good hostel painted in bright pink and decorated with Buddha statues and hammocks. We immediately went out to see what Noosa had to offer, first checking out Sunshine Beach right down the road. It was another beautiful sunny day, and the beach was something out of a postcard. We made our way past the dogs running in the sand to the National Park situated right along the beach. It was already fairly late in the day so we didn't take on any long tracks. I wasn't expecting anything spectacular out of our walk. But as we got farther up the hill I realized it was going to be a good one. All of a sudden we stepped out of the forest to a view of spectacular cliffs. We were hoping if we went a little farther we would be lead to them. Turns out the trail went past those cliffs to even better ones, where we could stand right on the edge. With the sun going down behind us, the waves hitting the rocks was both invigorating and relaxing. A bit farther was another beach, with rocks lined up all along the shore. It was something I thought I would only ever see on a desktop background. I could have stayed there all night.

Favorite spot from the whole trip

A bit farther from the above scene

Waves and sun and sand
The next morning I was motivated enough to wake myself and two others up at 5:30 to catch the sunrise on the beach. I was nervous when it was already light out and a bit hazy by the time we got to the beach. But sure enough, the orange sun started to peak up behind the horizon and the three of us had a lovely moment on the beach. After going back to the hostel for a short nap, I decided to give driving on the wrong side of the road a go as we headed to Australia Zoo. I started off really nervous, and almost got into an accident within the first 5 minutes, but once we got onto the sunshine coast I was happy to be on the left side of the road.

Sleepy momma Koala
Australia Zoo (Home of the Crocodile Hunter) was a lot of fun. We saw it all, from koalas and kangaroos to elephants and crocodiles. We even checked out the crocoseum for the Wildlife Warriors show, but I was  a little disappointed in the croc show. They did have extremely well trained birds fly in and out though, which was impressive. After treking through the massive zoo, we were able to enter the wildlife hospital where wild animals, mostly koalas, get taken care of.

Such a beautiful cat!
Pretty giraffes =]
One of the many memorials for Steve Irwin
Sick Koala :(

Brisbane Casino
Then we were off to Surfer's Paradise, on the Gold Coast. I was expecting a small beach town like Airlie Beach, so I was a little surprised by the tall buildings and city lights when we got in. It's more of a party city than I thought. Unfortunately we were all too exhausted from the zoo to go out on the town while we were there, but I've heard it's a really good time. In the morning we had time to relax on the beach, which was great. I tried to soak up as much sun as I could, I knew I would be missing it as soon as I got back to Tassie. After some souvenir shopping, we were headed to our last stop of the trip, Brisbane. We knew a couple friends from UTas who are from there, and we had planned to meet up with them. We also planned to not sleep much before our early morning flight back to Hobart. It was a really fun night, but not what I expected. I guess I'm still getting used to the clubbing lifestyle here in Australia. The girls are done up head to toe, with a minimum of 5 inch heels. The lines are crazy long, and every club had a cover charge. So, Chelsey Sarah and I ended up in the casino, which was not what I expected either. It definitely was not as exciting as Mohegan Sun or Foxwoods. But after some chips and a few awkward pictures on my disposable camera, we were having fun. And that's how we ended the trip!

The sign of a successful road trip!