Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Brief Six Days in Sydney

After leaving Stradbroke Island we drove straight to the airport and caught our flight to Sydney. Our free days and Sydney were first instead of last, so we took our free days to ride the ferry out to the beach suburb of Manly and travel inland to the iconic Three Sisters in the Blue Mountains. In the Blue Mountains the five of us hiked two trails: the scenic National Pass cut into the side of a cliff and the Federal Pass which runs beneath the Three Sisters and ends with a ride on the steepest funicular railway in the world. On our non-free days in Sydney we visited museums (lots and lots and lots of them) and saw the sights around Sydney. One of the highlights was the Bing dinner, a 5-course meal followed by a ballet in the Opera House. We also went to the beach where Australian beach culture originated (Bondi Beach), the Australia Museum, the Powerhouse Museum, and toured the Sydney's historic barracks.
One our last day in Sydney, we had three free hours, so a friend and I decided to go sailing on Sydney Harbor (how often do you get that opportunity?). I found a place that rented small Lasers so Jared and I decided to go for it. Upon arriving at the rental place we discovered that they wouldn't let us both go out in one Laser; "We do have catamarans though. They're basically the same." After a terrifying near-death experience, we decided that learning to sail a catamaran in 30-knot winds wasn't the best idea and we decided on kayaks instead. Next stop: Canberra. I just hope that Australians exaggerate their extreme dislike for their capital city...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Straight Outta Stradbroke

Today was our final day on Stradbroke, a day filled with frantic data gathering, data analyzing, and finally, a couple dozen raw oysters. My last two and a half days have been spent driving to various parts of the island trying to get data for my targeted research project. Sadly, almost all of my data has proven to be statistically insignificant, however, data that tells you nothing still tells you something. Last Saturday we gave 35 minute presentations on a theoretical development in groups of six, Sunday was our exam, and since then I've been working on my research island. I have had some fun though; everyday last week we played either rugby or soccer on the field nearby- we had some serious 10 vs 10 play (and I finally scored a goal). Sadly diving didn't work out because of an unfortunate incident with the first part of our group, however it sounds like I'll have at least one more chance. Tomorrow we leave here at 7AM, ride the ferry back to the mainland, head straight to the airport, and then fly to Sydney. Our free days are Saturday and Sunday and then we have a week of "class" mostly involving visiting museums in Sydney and Canberra.
The pictures above are a few snapshots of life on Straddie- My friend Jared helping me with my research project, a storm rolling across Moreton Bay from Brisbane, the view from Point Lookout at the northeastern edge of the island, and a picture from our tour of the local sand-mining operation. I'll post again from Sydney!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Life in Cell Block E

Just a joke, although this part of the research station at Moreton Bay does seem to look like a federal penitentiary. Since arriving here on Staddie, we've had our introductory lectures, toured the island, and had attempted to all throw boomerangs. A local Aborigine guide came by and played Didgeridoo, showed us traditional artifacts, and demonstrated how do throw spears and boomerangs. As you can imagine, there were all sorts of comical results when 50 of us attempted to throw a boomerang (both of mine went into trees). Yesterday we also went swimming at Brown Lake (aptly named), a nearby lake solely fed by rainwater that is the color of tea because of tannin runoff from the Eucalyptus trees in the area. Today we're touring the local Rutile mining operation to get a feel for another important aspect of the island. I've also been planning my research project, which at the moment, is going to attempt to study the effects of the local dirt roads on the nearby environment.