I’ve been in Australia for over a week now, and I’ve only had one person say G’day to me! Aside from my burgeoning disappointment over the fact that nobody seems to use “mate” as much as TV would have me believe, Australia has been a beautiful and fascinating place to study.
Each morning we are awoken by the whip birds and the chowchillas of the forests, with calls like lasers echoing through the misty air. While it’s a slog through the mucky paths to the Center, where meals and classes are, we are often treated to organisms like leaf tailed geckos, frogs, lizards, glowing fungi, and strangler figs as we hike through the wet tropics. I am continuously surprised by how close we share our space with nature. Bush Turkeys join us for our meals, snakes have been known to hide amongst our compost, and a beloved spider has built a home in our car park. It’s a reminder that if humans are careful and respectful, we can coexist effectively with the natural world without destroying it.
The humans here are equally fascinating! Our lectures have taught us about the flora and fauna we should look for in the forest, and we had a particularly interesting guest lecturer who provided us with information on using drones, GIS, and mapping data to study erosion and develop more effective, environmentally sound farms. This past weekend we headed into Cairns to the Cairns Indigenous Art Festival, to learn more about the aboriginal people and their culture. We were treated to amazing art and dances from across Australia.
So far Australia has been a lesson in melding together nature and culture, in respecting those who have existed before us, whether plant, animal, or human. I can’t wait to experience even more of the wet tropics of Australia in the coming weeks!
The view in the mornings from the lowlands
From left to right: Den, Hannah, and Courtney at a strangler fig on Lake Eacham’s shore
Veronica, our car park spider. She’s about 6 inches long and 4 inches wide!
Leaf-tailed gecko we found while spotlighting