On Tuesday at 4:58am, my anxious mind woke me up. Today I would be traveling in a van for 5 hours south to a small town called Denmark with my CIEE group for a two night, two day adventure before we start class. We didn’t have to meet Paul, our program director, outside of the flats until 7am, but the combination of jet-lag and nerves about the trip had me wide awake. I got up and slowly started getting the rest of my things together and messaging Joe. Talking to him turned my nerves into excitement and I was on the road before I knew it.
Interesting things to remember about driving in Australia: the price of gas is measured in cents per liter, passing someone is called “overtaking” them, the speed limits are about the same, and there’s another word they use to mean “yield”
The drive went smoothly with little traffic. I stared out the window for the majority of the time, admiring the Australian country. I had often watched videos on animal planet and discovery channel of young adventurers driving over the red dirt and dusty greens of the Australian wilderness, and here I was doing the same. The feeling was surreal.
We arrived in the temperate rainforest of Denmark around noon. A short drive out of town took us to The Cove- a collection of cabins hand crafted by a married couple name Illyah and Susan. The cabin we stayed in was rather large with two upstairs bedrooms, lined with twin sided beds, two bedrooms downstairs, two bathrooms, and a large kitchen and living space connecting it all. We each claimed a bed, changed into our swim suits, and loaded back up into the van. Paul drove us to a place on the southern coast called Green’s Pool. We parked in a small parking lot at the top of a hill that overlooked one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. The sky was overcast and a good wind was blowing, so the waters were choppier than normal. Despite these things, the Australian waters shimmered in various shades of blue- turquoise in the shallows, bright sapphire in the deeper spots. The coastline created a sort of ‘C’ shaped inlet and huge granite boulders closed the ‘C’ shape in a staggered line.
Excited, we rushed down to the waters edge. We hadn’t been on the beach for more than a minute when Nicole exclaimed “Guys, look at this!”. I turned around, saw what she was about to touch, and yelled “NICOLE DON’T TOUCH THAT!”. She had been peering over and touching the mantle of a washed up Portuguese Man-of-War jellyfish, which can inflict an excruciating sting.
After that little scare, we developed a standing rule for the rest of the semester. “If you don’t know what it is, do NOT touch it.”
The water was crystal clear, and not as cold as I expected it to be. We swam in the southern ocean until our bodies were totally numb (I will post more photo’s and GoPro footage to the photo’s section of this website) and then dried off and changed.
Next stop: Denmark Animal Farm. We arrived on site and entered the gift shop/check in facility that led to the farm land. Here, we purchased our passes and a small bag of animal food. The first enclosure at the zoo held an absolutely adorable, fluffy koala named James! With faculty approval, we entered the enclosure and were able to pet him on the back while he snoozed away in the fork in his eukalyptus tree.
Apparently, koalas sleep almost 20 hours a day in order to process the compounds in the leaves they eat. James used to have another partner in his enclosure, but he got old and died a few months ago- he hasn’t accepted any other koala partners since.
We walked a short distance to an open field, which housed several small kangaroos and some alpacas. I was also extremely happy that the kangaroos were as soft as they look! They had been raised on the farm since they were very young and therefor didn’t seem to mind human touch.
They mostly cared about the food that we held in our white paper bags, but I told myself that they loved my company as well. The farm also contained a large field full of sheep and goats, a pen of bunnies and guinea pigs, some cows, baby goats and pigs, and an emu. Each of them received a substantial amount of attention from me- no animal left behind.
We shopped briefly around the gift shop and played with a scruffy little puppy that one of the employees owned, then headed back to The Cove. Paul cooked a wonderful barbecue dinner and we turned in for the night after visiting with Illyah and Susan. I cozied up in my little twin bed and fell asleep to the sound of a fire crackling downstairs and my friends asleep in the beds beside me.