The worldwide Augustana College experience

Adventures in Sydney

Sydney is an amazing and diverse city packed full of interesting things around every corner! As of yesterday we’ve been here for two weeks, and boy have they been fun and busy!

Our first day in Sydney was spent in orientation with CAPA, where they went over some important information about our assignments, internships, and showed us how to use the public transportation system. Sydney has buses, light rail, trains and ferries, all under a unified payment system called an Opal card. The Opal card is pre-loaded with money and then at each station there are posts to “tap on” and to “tap off”. By touching the card to the magnetic reader before you get on and then again after you get off, it automatically calculates the correct fare by location. So far I have used the bus, light rail and train, and am planning on using the ferry next weekend. Having never lived in a city with a train (I’m from Des Moines, IA), I like the train the best, because it is new and exciting and in my opinion quite fun!

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Example of the Opal card in use

The day after orientation we took a coach bus trip to the Blue Mountains. On the way we stopped at the Featherdale Wildlife Park. Featherdale has all native Australian animals including koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, saltwater crocodiles, cassowaries, snakes, and lots of different types of birds. The best part about the park was getting to pet and take a picture with a koala named Archer and getting to feed and (attempt) to take selfies with wallabies. Koalas are way softer than they look and very content to just sit and eat and ignore you completely. The food for the wallabies was some type of hay in ice cream cones. Not surprisingly, the wallabies wanted the cone a lot more than they wanted the hay!

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After visiting Featherdale we continued on to the Blue Mountains. They are called the Blue Mountains because of the abundance of gum trees, a type of eucalyptus tree. The gum trees release a oil into the air, which when hit with light appears blue. Since the Blue Mountains are a temperate rain forest (think western half of Washington and Oregon) it decided to rain while we were there. While some of the more panoramic views were spoiled, we still saw some amazing ones, and the clouds were fun to watch. While we were there we visited Wentworth Falls, Echo Point, and hiked down 1000 stairs to ride the worlds steepest railway back up (it was originally used for transporting coal up from the valley floor). Even though it was a little wet, the Blue Mountains were awesome, and I would love to go back if I get a chance!

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The day after the Blue Mountains we took a bus tour around the city of Sydney. We got to see some neat views as well as learning a little more about the history of the area. After the bus tour we went to Bondi Beach, which is one of the most well known beaches in Sydney. We had a great time and the weather was beautiful.

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We started our internships on Monday the 18th. I am interning with the Wilderness Society. I am helping organize their launch event for their new leadership structure, assist with campaign projects and help out around the office. I am working Monday – Thursday and nights and weekends if there are special events. On Friday we went to the Australian National Maritime Museum. The permanent exhibits are free and additional exhibits are available at an extra cost. I was really impressed with the museums and the quality of the exhibits. My favorite exhibits were a picture display of x-rays of all sorts of different fish and a really cool exhibit about early European exploration of Australia.

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X-ray of a butterfly fish 

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The Chart of New Holland (1811) – the earliest map depicting Australia as we know it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also went to the Sydney Sea Life Aquarium which was so amazing! It was huge with lots of different exhibits like penquings, living fossils, sharks, dugongs (related to manatees) and a Great Barrier Reef tank. The best part of the trip was getting to go in a glass bottom boat on top of the Great Barrier Reef tank. It was such a great experience and a different view to see the tank from! I really enjoyed the aquarium and was very happy with our visit!

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Tuesday, January 26th was Australia Day. It celebrates the day the first fleet landed in Port Jackson. The date is seen as offensive to Aboriginals because they view it as Invasion or Survival Day. There was  a very large effort by the Sydney government to be more inclusive in this year’s celebrations with several events honoring aboriginal culture and history with the land. To celebrate Australia Day we went to  Darling Harbour where there was all sorts of live music and an outside market with lots different small businesses selling things. For dinner we got some kangaroo burgers, corn and fries. Kangaroo is delicious and tastes like very lean tender beef. The Australia sweet corn was pretty good too! That night we went to see the fireworks over the harbour. They were really good and a great way to end the day! IMG_5371

 

The first two weeks here have been really fun and I can’t wait to see what’s up next!

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