Springbrook National Park

Just a quick post this week, centered around a I trip I took to Springbrook National Park, which is about three hours north of Lismore. The setting was similar to the area around Minyon Falls, and I actually got to see a waterfall that was quite similar as well, although this one had actual water running over the edge.

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Purling Brook Falls
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Purling Brook Falls

 

Springbrook is most famous for this strange and gorgeous bit of scenery: Natural Bridge.

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Natural Bridge from below within the cave

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Drop into the cave

It’s my understanding that this unique formation is caused by a harder basalt layer on top of a softer limestone layer. Overtime, the river caused cutback underneath the  preexisting waterfall. There also had to be some sort of natural depression above the waterfall within the river, causing small pool to form that got deeper and deeper until it broke through into the undercut below, Eventually, this cave was formed. The cave itself is home to glowworms, which are the bioluminescent larvae of a few groups of beetles. They make their home on the ceiling of the cave. The forest around this area is also abundant with bioluminescent fungi as well, on a side note.

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Only one month left in Australia, and I’m sure its going to go by in a flash. We will see how many more updates I can get in before I return home!

The Blue Mountains

This is the sequel to my last blog, about our first few days in Sydney. On the third day we went to the Blue Mountains, which is about a 2 and a half hour train ride inland from Sydney proper. I was super excited because I had never been a train before for more than 5 minutes. Retrospectively, I’ll give riding in a train 3 stars out of 5. Not as enthralling as the mini Joe Biden in my head said it was going to be, but not the worst mode of travel either. At least you can nap.

Anyways, I’ll liken the rim of the Blue Mountains, to the rim of the Grand Canyon, at least in terms of tourists. They are similar in the sheer quantity of visitors, and in that the farther you go down from the rim, the less of them there are.

Echo Point
Echo Point
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Echo Point from the Three Sisters

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The Giants Stairway

This last picture I think gives a good idea of how step the drop-off is. The “Giants Stairway” that leads down the cliff face and into the valley below is incredibly steep, and has a lot of people on, which can lead to some risky passing maneuvers. It felt similar to Angels Landing in Zion, expects slightly safer. Once we reached the valley floor, it was a totally different environment.

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Above Leura Falls
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One of the few pictures of me

We also took an afternoon to visit the famous Bondi Beach, which is just outside Sydney proper. Most likely, this was the most people that I have ever seen on a beach at one time. Bondi is known for having some of the best surfable waves in Australian, and its next to the largest city, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. It even has its own TV show here, called “Bondi Rescue”, which has been running for about 10 years.

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Bondi Beach from Mackenzies Point
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Looking towards Bronte Beach

I’ll be back again soon with more pictures from down under. Thanks folks!

Sydney

I spent about 4 days in Sydney over the time that I had off for study break. This post will include photos from the first two days, which we spent in downtown Sydney, and exploring a few museums/other local attractions. This included taking far too many photos of the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbor Bridge from multiple vantage points. The Sydney skyline has some really unique structures, including the Sydney Tower, which is the second tallest observation tower in the world.

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Farm Cove in the Royal Botanic Gardens
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Milsons Point
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Lavender Bay, looking south.

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We stopped at Luna Park, which appears to be a Sydney institution, more or less. I don’t know how parents can take their children here without fear that they will suffer permanent psychological damage from seeing this face at the entrance:

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The Australians that we were with kept mentioning how old the park is, and that they refused to go on some of the ride because of how rusty and dangerous they seemed. They did make for cool pictures though. We also visited both the the Art Museum of New South Wales, and the Museum of Contemporary Art. The MCA was one of Brians favorite spots on the whole trip. He really liked seeing the abstract, and sometimes just downright weird stuff in there.

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We also spent quite a bit of time in the Royal Botanic Gardens, which are unbelievably massive. Nearly every piece of vegetation is label with its scientific name, and a description, which more than satisfied my plant nerd needs.

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Hoop Pine

Here are a few more shots of some other destinations in Sydney.

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Anzac memorial in Hyde Park
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St. Marys Cathedral

I’ll be back in a few days with the rest of our Syndey trip, which mostly involves a day to the Blue Mountains, and a few photos from Bondi Beach. Thanks for your patience.

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Post-Flood Update

 

Trust me, I know its been awhile. But hey, nobody expected that Lismore was going to get either A: This much rain every day for weeks, or B: That the Wilson river was going to top its levies, and the city was going to experience the worst flooding its seen since 1974. Clearly, these conditions are less than conducive to photography and adventuring in general. For thee past couple of weeks I’ve been more focused on homework instead. We do have a trip planned to go to Sydney between the 13th and the 17th of this month, so that will get me back outside and taking pictures. Also, today was the first fully clear day we have had in weeks, and so I took the opportunity to get out on to the campus and take some shots. I realized that I had taken a lot of picture in other place while here, but none of where I have actually been living. The picture at the top of this post was taken on the third story of the library, overlooking the campus square. Typically, the library is where I get most of my actual work done, including writing this blog thing.

SCU Central Campus
SCU Central Campus lawn

Heading down this hill is how I get to the library and the square, which is behind the group of trees on the left. Those trees are actually a very small rainforest remnant that still has mostly exclusively native species. The building at the bottom of the hill is the combined gym/unibar. A small bouldering gym was recently built on campus as well, which is located on the bottom floor of that building.

Campus Oval
Campus Oval

This athletic field, which is called an oval, is just on the other side of the gym and the unibar. I’ve caught a glimpse of a few collegiate games of cricket and rugby here, and I can safely say that I still have no idea what is going on. Why can’t everyone play the same damn sport? It would be so much simpler..

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The unibar entrance
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View across the lake to the koala hospital
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Best homework locale on campus, right in that chair (sshh, it’s a secret)

Here are just some other random photos of the campus that I have taken. Parts of campus have really nice landscaping and are very scenic. The buildings themselves, especially the ones that my classes are in, are sort of boring so I decided to spare everyone from pictures.

For any of you that are interested, here are a few pictures of the inside of my dorm itself. Pretty standard looking, but it’s nice that I get my own room.

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That’s all for now. There should be a whole slew of posts soon to accompany my trip to Sydney. I might also have to nerd about about trees and ecology sometime soon, but I’ll let you know ahead of time, so that you can skip that gross, mind-broadening science shit if you choose. Thanks for your time.

 

Minyon (Trickle) Falls

It has been raining everyday for practically the past week, so the adventures that were planned for this weekend were canceled. In light of this, I changed my post about Minyon Falls to now, as to continue a consistent posting schedule.

Right, now down to the good stuff.

Fortunately, or unfortunately for us, we visited Minyon Falls in a dry period before all the rain. This means that we didn’t have to hike in the poring rain, but we also didn’t get to see the falls at all really.  There was a tiny trickle going over the edge, but that was about it. Still a fantastic place to visit! Minyon Falls is located on the southern edge of Nightcap National Park, 30 minutes north of Lismore.

We took a hike from the top of the basalt bowl, into the ravine below. In terms of vegetation, this was the most tropical place I have ever been. Palms and gum trees were dominant and barely any light was getting through the canopy onto the forest floor. We had ourselves a scramble up some slick basalt rocks at the base to get to the small pool at the bottom of where the falls is during wetter weather.

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Squiggle Gum Tree
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Looking down from the top of the falls

 

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The Trickle

As you can see, the falls itself wasn’t anything more than a trickle. Still, a very impressive and grand place to be sure. This was one of the few times that I really wished I had a fish eye lens to capture it all. The photo above is a actually 4 photos stitched together vertically using my widest angle lens, which is the best I can do. Brian and I were speculating on how many climbing routes there was potential for on the rock itself.

We also  visited Rocky Creek Dam on the same day as a place to have lunch on the way back home. The lake behind Rocky Creek Dam is the main source of water for Lismore and the surrounding communities.

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View overlooking the lake

If all goes as planned, I should have small post containing some pictures of the university and my residence later during this week. Until then, have swell time in the northern hemisphere.

Eat The Street

Its been a busy couple of weeks, with classes starting and trying to continue adventuring as much as possible. We’ve taken several long walks around the town of Lismore, and went to a few events; one of which was Lismore’s “Eat The Street”. Eat The Street is a celebration of culinary and cultural variety in the Lismore area, and was held on the 11th of March this year. The multitude of food options was rather overwhelming, and to prevent serious buyers remorse, I went with a Australia classic; the meat pie. A bargain at 5 bucks (That’s AUD folks), it was the perfect combination of pastry and steak. I was tempted to get Mexican food so that I could compare, but Brian made an excellent point that, regardless of how good it is, it will be nowhere as good as what we are used to. Brian, Elizabeth, and I also got some ice cream later in the day, which was also pretty good.

Eat The Street also had quite a few art vendors, and advocacy groups that also have booths set up. A restored car club was also displaying their builds in a near-by parking lot.

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The interesting thing was that a few of these cars had the steering wheel on the right hand side. Can you imagine driving on the left-hand side of the road, but be positioned on the right side of the car? Seems ludicrous to me.

There was also some entertainment at the event, most notably in the form of the “Pitts Family Circus”, which was a 4 person family that had learned some serious impressive aerobatic skills.

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The weekend before, we also went to the Lismore Boot market, where locals come out in droves for what I can only describe as the biggest garage sale I’ve ever seen. It’s located in the parking garage of the Lismore Square, which is the shopping center that we frequent to get groceries and other necessities. This takes place every 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month, so I’ll be heading back this coming weekend to get some shots.

Also, I’ll take this time to talk about the bats. THE BATS. HOLY HECK… The walk from my dorms to downtown Lismore passes by Rotary Park, which is about 25 acres in size, and contains a dry-rainforest remnant that was typical of the area before European colonization. The forest itself is super cool, and I’ll have to get some pictures of its interior. For now though,  all you need to know is that Rotary Park is the home of a HUGE population of Australian endangered Flying Fox bats. They are largest bats in the world, and ever night they leave in a mass exodus from the park to feast on, presumably, insects/fruit.

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This is the best shot I have of them roosting. As you imagine, they are elusive to see during the daytime, but you just barely see them in the treetops along the edges of the park. Make no mistake, these bats are massive. This shot is taken using the full extent of my 270mm lens. Seriously, no joke. When I first saw them all flying overhead at night, I though they were migrating birds. I sat on campus one evening and just watched them to see how many there were. I had to leave after 15 minutes because they showed no signs of stopping.

Anyway, that’s all for now. You can expect another post in just a few short days on my trip to Minyon Falls, which I just did today! Cheers.

 

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

Kangaroos, Crocs, and Parrots, Oh My!

This past weekend, our school provided another free trip, this time to Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. Currumbin is about an hour and half drive north of Lismore, in Queensland. The Sanctuary itself was sort of half zoo, half open range animal space, and it took most of the day to see it all. The main draw of the place seems to be the koalas, and the somewhat unique opportunity you can have to hold one, and get your picture taken. Elizabeth jumped on that chance, as did a large group of international student. I opted to hang back and take (free) photos of them (they all seemed sleepy anyways).

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There were clusters of koala enclosures almost as frequent as Starbucks in large cities. I was honestly surprised they didn’t give everyone a free one on your way out the door.         On a more serious note, most of the wildlife at Currumbin have been rescued, either from displacement or injury, and nursed back to health at the facility itself.

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There was plenty of other things to see there too, though. We caught a free flight show for about a half an hour that included most of the birds that have become endangered due to habitat lose in Australia.  The most of impressive of these being the wedge-tailed eagle, which is the largest bird of prey in the entire country. Its wing span, for those of you still interested, averages around 9 feet. Huge bird, which huge talons that came awfully close to some peoples heads.

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Wedge-Tailed Eagle
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Some sort of bird, I forgot to write down the name..
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Eastern Rosella

 

We were also fortunate enough to be around for Crocodile feeding time.”Boss Hog” at Currumbin is over 16 feet long, and one of the largest animals that I recall seeing.

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Some other various wildlife..

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Rock-Wallaby
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Goodfellow’s Tree Kangaroo

These lizards were actually quite interesting. There were not an official part of the sanctuary, but there were everywhere. Most of them were about 1/2 to 1 1/2 feet long and were running around everywhere. The four of us from Arizona couldn’t get enough of them because our lizards are tiny in comparison, but nobody else seemed to notice. I guess they are a common thing here.

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The sanctuary itself had some great scenery as well. Mostly surrounded by large eucalyptus, and supposedly native forest.

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Brian Krupitzer, Elizabeth Wright in the background

Anyway, that’s all now. I had a great time at Currumbin, and I’m looking forward to a trip to Minyon Falls that is upcoming.

Also, apparently the highest grossing Australian movie of all time is.. Crocodile Dundee. How stereotypical.

Byron Bay

A week in and I’m finally starting to settle in…slightly.

Mostly, this week has been filled with orientation meetings to attend, people to meet, and food to eat. Its all be a bit confusing, but it looks like there might be a light on the end of the tunnel.

On Sunday this past weekend, the school organized a trip to Byron Bay for all of the international students. Byron Bay is home to some of the best surfing in the world, especially for beginners.As part of the trip, we got a lesson on beach safety from the Byron Bay Surf Club, warning us about all of the dangers associated with the ocean. These included, but were not limited to: Blue bottle jellyfish, box jellyfish, blue-ring octopus, sharks, and the ocean itself in the form of riptides. If the talk didn’t scare you enough to head home, you were then set free to do as you pleased. I opted to head towards the lighthouse.

Byron Bay is located almost due east of Lismore on the eastern coast of Australia. This view is looking south along the coast from Cape Bryon. Even on an overcast day, like the one while we were there, most of the beach were crowed. The journey up to the the lighthouse takes you about a mile an half from the surf club in the middle of Byron, up through a native coastal eucalyptus forest, and eventually onto the ridge of the cape.

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The lighthouse itself was built in 1901 on the tip of the cape. I asked, but unfortunately it seems they do not let you go to the top. However, we were fortunate enough to spot a pod of dolphins below in the water from this point, so that dampened by disappointment to some degree.

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A short walk down the path from here leads you to the actual most eastern point in Australia. I’m not quite sure, but I think I can almost make out Flagstaff in the distance on this picture. Pretty hard to tell though..

We spent of the rest of the afternoon soaking up the sun, and swimming in a relatively jellyfish-free ocean. We did not get to spend much time in downtown Byron because of our lighthouse adventures, but it seemed like a quaint place to sit down and have some overpriced food.

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This coming Friday I’ll be heading out to a Koala sanctuary with the rest of the international students. Stayed tuned for photos of cute cuddly half-bears in the future.

I’ll also talk more about my college and the city of Lismore itself in some other post, but for now, here’s a picture of the walk from my dorms down towards the proper campus. I’ve heard grumblings from other students about how much they dislike the walk. I don’t know about you, but I think its rather stunning, isn’t it?

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PHX->LAX->BNE->LSY

Joyous traveling

One airport down, two to go.

Brian, Elizabeth, and I are sitting at our terminal in LAX, waiting for our 14+ hour long flight to Brisbane. From there, it’s a short two hour long shuttle ride to SCU campus in Lismore.

We’ve discovered that LAX is less of an airport, and more of a sadistic maze of poorly planned hallways, crossed with a large crowed mall. Luckily, an older (and presumably Russian) couple were in the same predicament as us, so we were eventually able to find our gate with their help, albeit with less mental composure.

Looking ahead, SCU has a free trip to Byron Bay planned for Saturday that I’m sure all three of us plan on attending, followed by another trip next weekend to a Kola sanctuary.

For now, enjoy this horribly grainy picture of a security line at LAX. Better pictures will follow once I’m not trying to upload a post in a crowded and cramped seating area.