Posted: October 20, 2011

Name: Hannah Miles
School: Brown University
Major: Environmental Science
Program: Tropical Rainforest Studies, Australia

This week we were lucky enough to go camping in Chillagoe, the real outback of Australia. The rainforest has been an amazing classroom, but going out to the desert and seeing new ecosystems was a fantastic change of scenery.

From the beginning, the trip was destined for success! We saw our first kangaroos of the program on a golf course outside of Mareeba on the drive to Chillagoe. There were probably 30 of them hopping around! Kangaroos are such an iconic Australian animal, and we were all very excited to see them.

After arriving in Chillagoe, we were hit by a heat wave. We quickly set up our tents and headed for the swimming hole where we were able to cool off in a really beautiful river. Many of us chose to sleep outside that night on a tarp, and the amazing sky full of stars made it well worth it.

The next day, we had a jam packed day at the beach and snorkeling—in the desert! The entire area of Chillagoe used to be an underwater reef, so all the geological structures were limestone based, and Siggy could pretend that our walk through the outback was a snorkel trip! We also got to see the voluminous limestone caves that were a welcome change from the heat as it was probably 6°C cooler inside them, so rainforest trees could actually grow.

Overall, Chillagoe was an amazing experience, but driving back to The SFS Center for Rainforest Studies felt like coming home!