G’day g’day, and how ya goin?
Everyone in group C has had a very successful first week down under. Our adventures have brought us everything from Dutch card games, to fires, to wombats on leashes.
We arrived on an overcast spring day on Stradbroke Island to the lovely Manta Lodge. This was a calmer day where everyone got acclimated with their new surroundings and friends for the next 70 days. The next few days on Straddie included card games, namely “Bully,” a Dutch Uno-type game Harm taught us, swimming and playing in the surf at the nearby beach, a beautiful coastal hike, and of course, searching for Koalas. We finished our time in Stradbroke with a radiant sunset, featuring dolphins, Leopard sharks, and, most importantly, homemade Pizza.
Our plan had us going to the Noosa Everglades next for our canoeing expedition; the only problem was that the Everglades were on fire. So, new plan! We packed up the van and shipped off to Habitat Noosa, a campsite where we would spend the next few days. On our first night in Noosa, we played two very spirited and very different games of Mafia and officially decided on our group name: the Koala Mafia. The next day we climbed Mount Cooroora, a 450 meter ascent of crags, crevices, and steep inclines that each of us conquered only to be rewarded by a breathtaking view of the surrounding area unlike any other. Many group members have said that this was their favorite activity, myself among them. We all had our concerns and apprehensions, but the ascent inspired each and every one of us and opened our hearts to the many adventures to come. When we got back to camp, we played capture the flag and a competitive fire was kindled in each and every one of us, most notably Sophie and Harm.
The next day we woke up sore but excited for a day of canoeing on the Everglades. But wait! The Everglades are on fire! Well, they were but at this point the fires had died down enough to allow us one day of canoeing. Arguably, this turned out to be more swimming than canoeing for some people as Chris jumped out of his and my canoe to capsize Will, Harm, and Sam into the river below. This was all fun and games, but it actually inspired the group leaders to conduct a workshop on canoe rescue once we had reached the boat launch. On our final day, we had a long, serene hike through the jungle and a relaxing afternoon meditating on the beach before returning to camp just in time for Katie to turn our eggs so they stayed fresh.
The next morning we piled into the van and drove to the Australia Zoo. We got a guided tour of the animal hospital started by Steve Irwin’s mom, and JQ and Sophie suffered a cuteness overload. After that we were turned loose in the zoo to explore the enclosures of Tigers, Crocodiles, and many more diverse Australian, Asian, and African animals. We even pet some Kangaroos! Crikey!
Finally, we have settled in Byron Bay. We set up our tents in the bug-infested darkness last night and woke up to missing van keys this morning inspiring what Cole described as a group wide “Vanic,” (panic over the van keys). Little challenges like these, singing along to music in the van, and rising to and surpassing each days challenges have brought us closer together and we have become fast friends. Everybody has their own individual strengths that complement each other perfectly. We make a great little family! All is well and we are gearing up for a day of hiking and shopping in beautiful Byron Bay. We’ll check back next week!
Koala Mafia signing off.