GABRIELLE MILLER – STUDYING IN LISMORE, AUSTRALIA

G’day!

The past couple of weeks have been some busy ones. We just wrapped up our “Study Break” (similar to Stout’s Spring Break), and I am beat! While it was a lovely pause from classes and the daily routine I found myself in, it’s nice to settle down for a bit again and get some much-needed sleep.  On the other hand, 10 full days of travel, adventure, and exploration down the east coast of Australia leave me with exciting memories and stories that will last a lifetime.

The break began with a trip to Fraser Island, the LARGEST sand island in the world!! Here, I found exactly what I was searching for in Australia, peace and paradise. The island was absolutely incredible! From riding in a 4WD down the beaches, to swimming in Lake McKenzie, the clearest blue lake I’ve seen in my life, every moment was filled with excitement.

There was little reception on the island, disconnecting me from most of the outside world, and for this I was thankful. So often I find myself too attached to social media and my phone, but on Fraser, I felt no need for either and was perfectly content. It was a feeling I’ve rarely felt, but one that I crave. I made a number of new connections with people from the island and other Southern Cross students, and heard amazing life stories from our guides.

Fraser has another name, K’gari (pronounced gar-ee), which directly translates to paradise, quite fitting as we fell asleep in tents by the beach, with the sounds of waves crashing nearby and waking up to beautiful sunsets. Throughout the island, you can also find a number of different natural settings, from the clear blue lakes and lakes filled with tea-tree, to the purest creeks and bubbling ocean pools. We walked through rainforests and threw boomerangs on a large sand blow. We even saw an old shipwreck and came in contact with many dingoes (a wild dog-like animal) and one of the most venomous snakes in the world, a sea snake!

All in all, Fraser was quite an amazing experience, one I’d recommend to anyone. This place and the people here have inspired me to work hard for the life I dream of and travel every chance I get, because life is short.

Following Fraser, a few friends and I flew down to Melbourne to explore the city and tour the Great Ocean Road. Here, we saw the Twelve Apostles (a rock formation off the south-eastern coast of Australia), fed some wild lorikeets, and experienced adorable cafes, live music, and Melbourne nightlife.

We then made our way to Sydney via a 5am flight, which, let me tell you, was NOT a fun experience. Rather than paying for another night of accommodation, we stayed in the airport to catch our early flight, leaving us with little and uncomfortable rest before heading to the big city. It was an adventure to say the least, but I don’t hope to experience that part again anytime soon.

After we checked into our Airbnb later that morning and caught a few more hours of sleep, we finally felt refreshed enough to see the sights. We took the train to downtown Sydney, the sight of the well-known Sydney Opera House and Harbor Bridge, and ate an incredible (and expensive) crab dinner at the Opera House Restaurant. We called it an early night, but took a quick swim in the rooftop pool at our accommodation before hitting the hay. You could probably say we lived a little like queens on this vacation of ours…

The next day in Sydney, we took a tour of the Blue Mountains, a beautiful natural location much like the Grand Canyon, but filled with vegetation and a blue haze created by the gases emitted from the eucalyptus trees. We hiked to hidden locations and got to know another great group of people from all over the world who toured with us.

Our final day of break included more Sydney city exploration, a delectable Nutella milkshake with a Nutella waffle on top, and ended with a gorgeous ferry ride as the sun set. While I was running on mostly coffee during this trip, I somehow maintained enough energy to have a blast and stay pretty positive (with only a bit of sass) 😉.

This break marked 2 months of my stay in Australia, leaving me with 2 months left. It’s crazy how time has flown and I start to get sad as I think of saying goodbye to the wonderful people and the beautiful land I’ve come to know. There may be more adventures ahead as I finish up my time here, but this trip has made me realize more than anything that time goes by in an instant and I must remember to enjoy every minute of it.

There is so much to discover in Australia and I’ve recently realized this is a place I must return to and explore more. Some days, I miss home and the people I love, but I also notice this place is becoming a new kind of home to me, one that seems almost as if it were a dream. Here’s to hoping the next 2 months are just as magical as the first!

Until next time,

Gabi

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