By: John Mwamhanga, M.S.

Posted: March 18, 2015
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Faculty Post

Living the Dream


Want to know how awesome Australia is? Well, you need to see it for yourself to truly understand the beauty of it. Australia is absolutely amazing! Traveling to Australia has always been a dream of mine since I was little. Not once did I imagine I would be studying here, especially in the middle of the rainforest. We have interacted with and seen all sorts of Australia’s endemic species. My favourite animals I have been able to watch on a daily basis are the cute little pademelons. They are the closest that we get to seeing an actual kangaroo, and it’s always a great experience when they hop right past our feet.

Another interesting animal that I’ve learned to get over my fear of are the large Huntsman spiders. No matter where you are around our Centre, whether it’s the classroom, trails, or even bathroom they’re always there. You learn to not notice them but it’s still a scare seeing them early in the morning when you want to shower or brush your teeth. While I don’t mind showering with a friend, I would prefer it to not be a huge spider staring at me.

While getting to see and learn about Australia’s endemic animals is always fun, getting to interact and talk with Australia’s local humans is another amazing experience. This past week we visited the city of Innisfail to survey the citizens and find out their views towards the rainforest and its conservation. Overall, not one citizen had a negative attitude towards the rainforest, which suggests that they understand the importance of conserving it.

Just living in the rainforest for the past month I’ve gained a much greater appreciation for this beautiful area and am so glad I get to work hands-on trying to conserve and restore it. Every weekend we work with TREAT (Trees for the Evelyn and Atherton Tablelands) planting new saplings within old agricultural fields to help rebuild corridors between rainforest fragments. This has truly been an indescribable experience, knowing that I’m helping restore this majestic area a single small tree at a time.

I have been enjoying every second of my time here, and I’m hoping the time moves much slower because I’m nowhere close to being ready to leave this country. One thing I’ve enjoyed the most are the long drives we take for field exercises because it allows me to see all of the beautiful scenery around me. Here are some photos I’ve taken during our trips, and a waterfall I stopped at, which just help show how majestic this rainforest truly is.

I consider myself truly blessed to be able to say I’ve visited Australia, but even more to say I lived and studied there for three months. I have made life-long friendships, gained a greater appreciation of nature, and realized that any small step towards conservation can really make a big difference. I am excited for what the rest of this trip has in store for me and will continue to wake up each morning with a smile on my face. This is a once in a life time opportunity and I’m lucky enough to say I’m living the dream.

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