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Journals from James Cook University

2014-05-18 Get Out and Explore

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Lookout point above Port Douglas. Luckily the weather cleared up for us that day, as it had previously been rainy and gloomy!

Well, it's time to face the facts. I must leave my home in Oz in 33 days, on June 21st. While I'm excited to go home to simple luxuries, such as mother's cooking, my huge bed, and my car Phoebe, I'm reluctant to leave Australia. I've made so many good friends and leaving them is going to be difficult. With all this in mind, I've been taking every opportunity to explore that I've been given! Last time we talked, I gave you a list of things I wanted to do/places I wanted to see before I left. I've been crossing a lot off of that list, which I am so grateful for!

James Cook University offers a variety of trips to their international students, through Toe-Knee's Tours. For the month of May, a two-for-one trip on the 17th and 18th caught my eye. It was going to visit Kuranda and Port Douglas, which had been on my list for a really long time. So I signed up right away! Obviously, the trip has passed, so let's grab some popcorn and enjoy the story of my journey!

On Day 1, Maile and I went into the city of Cairns to meet the group. Upon arrival, we realized that we were the only Americans, only students from JCU, and for the most part, only English-speaking people. Apparently this company offers these tours for international students to learn English. So while we spoke English quite well, they still like to offer JCU tours because they have a bunch of international students who may not know the language well. 

Our first stop was to Crystal Cascades. During the first week or so of being in Australia, we had taken a trip here, so because it was raining, Maile and I just stayed back instead of swimming. We all made damper, a traditional Australian bread made with beer, flour, and pinches of sugar and salt. While it cooked, everyone swam. They came back when the damper was done and we all enjoyed the warm bread with golden syrup (made from sugar cane). We then journeyed up to Kuranda, "the village in the rainforest." I had heard that the markets here were incredible, so I was most excited for this part. The town was really quaint and cute--very tourist-oriented, however. We ate lunch and browsed through the markets before heading off to Barron Falls. At this moment, the falls were nothing but a trickle, but I've seen pictures of a raging waterfall, which happens after monsoons and cyclones. Either way, the canyonous gorge was absolutely incredible. The last stop was to Palm Cove, a beach near the student lodge. We had already been here too, but we explored around a little more regardless, and got dropped off near the lodge for free.

On day 2, we walked to JCU to be picked up. Immediately, we headed for Port Douglas. This trip was my favorite, as it was so informative and the weather cleared up for us. On our way, we stopped along the road and trekked into a sugar cane field, where the guide cut some stalks and gave us each some sugar cane to chew. I'd been wanting to do that forever! Apparently the first person to build a resort in this town full of wealthy and famous people was Frank Sinatra, so that was really cool! In addition, Dean Martin and a whole heap of famous celebrities vacation in this town. Lining the streets into town are countless palm trees, but not regular palm trees. These expensive plants are from Africa and they are ginormous. 

After arriving, we browsed the Sunday markets. Then we walked to the beach and lay out for a half hour, reuniting for a BBQ on the beach. We then had about 2 hours to kill, so we walked around, then went up to the lookout point. On the way home, we stopped at various lookouts and places along the road, learning interesting facts about trees, ants, and termites. Green ants are common here, and Australians eat them! Well, more specifically, they eat their bum! I refused to eat one, as I get queasy quite easily. However, you can still taste the acidic sourness by simply licking their bum, so the tour guide, which was the epitome of typical Australian man, held a squirming ant as I stuck out my tongue and licked it's butt! I can honestly say that's something I'd never done, but I'm glad I experienced it. 

Overall, these trips were amazing. I'm so glad I got to cross these places off my list, and hopefully in the upcoming weeks I can cross a bunch more off!

Until next time, 

Sara

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