Name(s): Liv Froehlich and Kristen Plantz
School(s): Wellesley College; Wake Forest University
Major(s): Environmental Studies; Biological Sciences
Program: Rainforest Studies, Australia
Taking a break from our rigorous exam schedule, we (Kristen and Liv) would like to share our homestay experience. Last weekend, we had the pleasure of staying with Claudia and John in their sustainable home in Herberton, Queensland, as our SFS homestay family.
When we arrived we were first greeted by four eastern grey kangaroos, hopping along a dry schlerophyll forest. Wow! Our first kangaroo sighting of the trip! Then, we arrived at their home; beautiful, home-built, and made only from rainforest wood. We took a tour around their home and were told about their rainwater catchment system, dry compost toilet, and solar energy system, as well as their general low-impact way of living. After spending a month at the center it was great to have some time to relax in their cozy outdoor (and indoor) verandas. They seemed to have perfected the ability to incorporate a sustainable home, without compromising their lifestyle and décor choices; with antique clocks (many restored by John himself), oven, and azure pottery bringing a unique feel to the home. That night, we enjoyed a relaxing evening as we got to know one another.
The next day we went on a walk to a dam nearby and chatted with Claudia on their veranda. In the afternoon we went to their friend’s party; celebrating the creation of a green wall on their outdoor patio. There, we feasted like kings on a variety of tasty appetizers, home made brick oven pizzas, and no less than six desserts. For the first time we got to really experience true Australian culture as we talked with all their friends, families, and neighbors.
The next morning John and his friend took us on a bushwhacking adventure to the Herberton Bluff; the highest point in the area. This was unlike any hike we have done yet, due to the fact that there was no trail. Oh my Lantana, was that an experience! We were shown termite mounds twice our height, and walked along an old wagon trail from the 1800s. Our efforts were not for nothing, as, upon returning to the house, Claudia greeted us with a brunch that will be remembered for years to come.
We ended our homestay with a somewhat transformative experience… a visit to a local Caretaker. We enjoyed the company of eighteen rescue dogs, three baby guinea pigs, two turkeys, and one baby wallaby! It’s hard to put into words the feeling that came along with holding a little joey in your arms; bright eyes shining up at us, with it’s little tail and feet poking out of it’s makeshift cloth pouch. After having afternoon smoko (snack), we said our goodbyes. One of the great things about the SFS community is that you’ll never be too far, and we look forward to reuniting with Claudia and John at upcoming events.
Overall, we enjoyed our homestay and found it very rewarding. It was great to come back to our SFS family and hear some of their crazy anecdotes (watertubing, permaculture, petting tree kangaroos, ecology lessons, camping on an island, pottery making, etc.)