Australia DSA - Final Thoughts
(I finally posted my last blog about my Australia trip on the main DSA Blog...I also wanted to repost it here.)
Well, I’ve been home nearly a month now and I think I’m all caught up on my sleep and no longer "on the trip" in my dreams. As I’ve seen friends and family since returning home, I have enjoyed sharing with them my photos and adventures from “Down Under.” Anytime I am asked, “How was your trip?” I say the same thing…”It was amazing!” There is one question I always get asked that I never have an answer for, “What was your favorite thing?” I tell people that every activity we did was special and unique…picking just one favorite is impossible.
When you travel to another country, you want to see all of the great landmarks and attractions, and boy did we…We traveled along the rugged, yet beautiful coast of the Great Ocean Road. We played in the rain among the treetops at the Otway Fly. We witnessed the magnificent sunrise at Uluru. And we saw the rainbow of colors in the fish and coral on The Great Barrier Reef.
Not only do you want to see these sites, but you also want to meet people and become a part of the country's culture. From this adventure I will take away so many wonderful memories, not only of the sites we saw, but of the people we met. After this trip I am convinced that a country's people are what truly makes an adventure amazing. As I created this final blog post, I wanted to take some time to reflect on those special people we met in Australia.
Marion at the Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Park. Marion was one of the first Australians we met and she was anxious to welcome us…and put us to work. Shovels in hand, she lead us to Rita the Wombat’s enclosure where we got our hands dirty. It was great! She didn’t cut us any slack for just getting off a 15 hour flight…she had a job for us and that job needed to get done, even in the rain. Marion wanted everyone to get a fist-hand experience while at the park.
Bill and Jan at the Ooraminna Station Homestead. I felt like I was home the minute we arrived at the homestead. The hospitality of the Hayes family was amazing. They greeted us as we climbed off our muddy coach with huge smiles. I’m not sure if they were aware as to what they were getting into with our group. :o) Everyone at the homestead took us under their wing – helped us crack the whip, get our swags set up, shared the history of the station, taught us about the stars of the southern hemisphere, and even let us set up a geocache just out off their front porch! Each meal they were right beside us, sharing stories and tales. They did it all and we absolutely loved our stay…thank you Hayes family!
Cassidy is an Anangu gentlemen who, in the shadow of Uluru, shared stories and legends of his Aboriginal culture. With the help of his translator, John, we learned the true resourcefulness of the Aborigines. Using leaves from the native acacia tree, Cassidy demonstrated a glue-making process. He also gave us the opportunity to try our hand with native hunting spears. And finally, dot painting. Cassidy and John shared with us the important role dot painting has played in the culture and provided us guidance with our personal creations. We were truly fortunate to have had the opportunity to spend time with these two gentlemen.
Terry and Jacque on the banana farm. Could you think of a better way to start your day…lamingtons, tea, coffee, and on the farm!?!? We were greeted by a barefooted Terry, with iPhone in hand, who quickly whisked us off on the banana cart. As we toured the 600 acre farm, Terry shared stories, facts and jokes. His sense of humor reminded me of my late grandfather. As I reflected back on our time at the farm, I once again felt like I had been visiting a relative. I will say one thing Terry…you still owe me a banana! :o)
Dunken with Reef HQ and Orpheus Island. During our time at the aquarium and on the island, Dunken wore many hats: scientist, instructor, tour guide, tech support, concierge, alarm clock, and cheerleader with the consistent phrase, “Okay beautiful people.” Whatever you needed, Dunken was there! He made sure everyone was safe and enjoying their time learning about The Great Barrier Reef and the ocean in general. I believe that Dunken and his staff had a huge impact on the students which will lead them to make changes in their daily lives.
And last, but DEFINITELY not least, Amanda - our tour manager extraordinaire! I have never seen someone remain so calm and collected under such pressure. (She would make a great teacher!) When some students were feeling car sick, she sought out some ginger. When we couldn’t make it to the bush camp due to rain, she wrangled up a 4 Wheel Drive coach. And when an item was lost, she sent out the search party. Amanda made our trip amazing with all of her hard work and information…it wouldn’t have been the same without her.
Finally, I want to thank all of the amazing folks at Discovery Student Adventures and Discovery Education for giving my students and I the opportunity to take part in this amazing trip. We have come home from Australia with friends and memories that will last a lifetime.