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Journals from University of Otago

2009-09-13 Spring Break in Australia

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Lookout over the city of Brisbane

For spring break I went to Brisbane, Australia with my friend Sarah from Germany. I was so excited to head into the sunny weather and get away from school for awhile! In terms of school work, my semester had been pretty quiet until the last few weeks before break. A week away was just what I needed! I had never planned my own vacation and I never fully understood how much goes into setting things up as my parents always did that. As students with a limited budget, we wanted to make sure that we got the best prices for airplane tickets. We spent so many evenings prior to the trip on Expedia and other travel websites trying to find good deals. We visited multiple travel agencies and thought we did a pretty good job of researching the best prices. Of course, right after we bought our tickets great deals from Dunedin to Brisbane were offered! We found the cheapest flights out of Christchurch, which is about a 5 hour drive from Dunedin. We had to find buses from Dunedin to Christchurch and back and again we were looking for the best deals. As it turned out, it probably would have been worth it to spend the extra 50 dollars to fly out of Dunedin. When figuring out a place to stay, we didnt want to spend a lot of money. I have a friend from high school living right outside the city but her mom was visiting so we couldnt stay with her. Sarah had a very loose connection to a couple from Germany who now lives in Brisbane. Fortunately, the people were willing to take us in and we were able to save a ton of money by staying with them. The people we stayed with lived about an hour north of the city and about an hour west of the Sunshine Coast. Since we wanted to have the freedom to explore the country, we decided it would be best to rent a car. Once again, we looked for the cheapest option. Most cars were available for over $300 Australian so when we found a small, manual Echo for $200, we were ecstatic! Unfortunately, I dont know how to drive a manual so it was up to Sarah to drive the whole trip (which I didnt mind, since driving on the left side of the road intimidates me!). The final aspect of planning our holiday was deciding what we wanted to do and where we wanted to go. Neither of us had any pressing desires except to spend a lot of the time at the beach and to shop so we didnt develop any sort of plan. This made the trip slightly less relaxing as we spent every night trying to decide what we wanted to do the next day. In the end, we were able to see a lot and experience tons of the sun! The people we stayed with were so nice! They were eccentric, but that made for a more interesting trip. We got up at 6:30 every morning to eat breakfast with them. They would go all out for breakfast and we always had some sort of fruit whether it was a fruit salad or a large slice of papaya. They cooked eggs for us and had many different breads for us to choose from. It was nice to have a filling breakfast for a change. At my flat at Uni I generally eat toast, and it was nice to have a change of pace! The best part, though, was the dinners. They made absolutely brilliant meals! We usually have noodles or rice at our flat but they were cooking us sea food, Chinese dishes, chicken, quiche, and so much more, it was delicious. Our first day in Brisbane, Andrea and Lutz took us to some touristy places. We started at a large outdoor market very similar to the Portland Saturday Market. It was fun to walk around and see all the different things the vendors had on display. We then drove up to Noosa. Noosa is an extremely touristy town and is one of the most expensive places to live in the world. We spent the afternoon lying on the beach and playing in the waves. One day, we went to a botanical garden at Mount Coot-Tha. We saw so many cool, tropical plants and had a blast wondering around and exploring. We then took a scenic drive to Mount Nebo and past Mount Glorious. It was absolutely gorgeous and we had great views looking over the city throughout most of the drive. My favorite day was our return to Noosa. We went on a hike in the Noosa National Park that took us along the ocean. It was stunning. One stop along the hike was at a place called Dolphins Point. We immediately saw dolphins playing, so we stopped for about an hour and sat on the rocks while we ate our lunch. It was so much fun! The dolphins were really cool to watch. I thought I saw a whale, but it never came up again for me to be sure. After Dolphins Point, we hiked to a place called Hells Gate, which was a beautiful lookout of cliffs and beaches. On our way back down, we stopped at a beach to watch surfers. Another day, we went to an International Working Women breakfast with Andrea. At the breakfast, we met women from all over the world in all different lines of work. One of the women there used to work in the White House as the Presidents secretary and is now writing a book about her experiences. Another woman owned a jewelry store, another was a fashion designer, some were lawyers, and many were professors or teachers of foreign languages. During the breakfast we listened to one of the women give a presentation on museums. Afterward, Sarah and I drove to the Glass House Mountains to pick strawberries for Andrea to make jelly. I loved picking strawberries because unlike picking blueberries, it is very easy to feel a sense of accomplishment as the bucket filled up fast! One day we were able to meet up with my friend from high school and her mom to go to a Koala Sanctuary. We saw so many koalas! They are strange animals. We were able to feed and pet kangaroos and even saw some of the joeys moving around in the pouches. We went to a presentation on wombats and learned that these little animals that look like pot belly pigs weigh about 90 pounds and can run up to 24 miles an hour! At the end of the day, we went to a lorikeet feeding similar to the Portland Zoo. However, what was cool about this feeding was that it was wild lorikeets who came in to get the nectar. We spent our last few nights in the city and were able to stay at the Hilton for a very good deal. It was fun to be doted on by the people at the restaurant as they pulled out our chairs for us and put our napkins on our laps. In the city, we spent most of our time shopping around and exploring South Bank. It was great to spend the end of the trip in the city with lots of people around, since the place we had been staying was in a very small rural town. While we were there, fall semester at Linfield started up. It was a strange feeling to be on spring break while all my friends were starting to move into their apartments. I didnt anticipate being too sad about not being there since I am having such a great time in New Zealand and I was in Australia at the time. However, it made me a little homesick not to be at Linfield while all my friends were reuniting. Once I got back to school and my class schedule picked up, those feelings of homesickness started to fade. But I definitely liked it better when Linfield was on summer break while I am here! It made me feel like I was missing out on less. Overall, the break was really good. I learned that I am a pretty good navigator and what I would do differently when planning a vacation. And now I only have a little over a month left of lectures!!! It is amazing how quickly the time has passed!! Claire

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