As an avid traveler and adventure seeker, approaching our fourth week here at the Center has blown away my initial expectations; I’ve learned more about my surroundings and myself than I could have ever imagined. And to sum it all up in a brief blog post? Forget about it—so instead, I present you loyal SFS readers with a comprehensive, yet progressively ongoing list of “Australian Lessons Learned” to recap the trip’s highlights thus far:
1. Most snakes on the trail are actually sticks.
2. Run or walk on the left side of a path to avoid angry pedestrians.
3. Wombats have square feces and a round anus.
4. Many spiders aren’t venomous. But that doesn’t mean they’re not terrifying.
5. A “banana bender” is a native Queenslander.
6. If a leech falls in your eye, let it feed and fall out to prevent blindness.
7. Vegemite does not taste like peanut butter.
8. All of the pretty sparkles on the ground at night? They’re spider eyes.
9. McDonald’s tastes the same in every country.
10. The plural of platypus is platypuses.
11. There is such a thing as a poisonous slug, and it will sting you.
12. Playing the didgeridoo is not as easy as it looks.
13. Stargazing in the middle of the outback is definitely worth enduring the severe daytime heat exhaustion.
I feel as though these last few weeks have gone by in a blurring time lapse of one incredible experience after another. Excursions to the crater lakes, traversing the tablelands, camping with an Aboriginal tribe, investigating local geology, befriending locals and our homestay families, caving and camping in the Chillagoe “outback,” and living amongst the vastly biodiverse flora and fauna have humbled my understanding of Earth’s natural beauty. As for right now, I’m looking forward to the next two months and the plethora of adventures in store—even if that means daily birdcall orchestras blaring outside my cabin window at 5:55 AM sharp. I think I’ll even come to miss those noisy creatures upon my return to America.