East Coast Road Trip (1)

By Kate Bowmar  (The University of Queensland, Australia)

My last five weeks in Australia have been spent doing the classic East Coast road trip. On this trip I travelled the whole length of the Australian East Coast from Cairns to Melbourne, stopping at about 10 places in between. In this first blog, I am going to tell you all about the first leg of my trip, from Cairns to Brisbane..

Cairns – Two days after my final exam at UQ, myself and a friend flew to Cairns to begin our road trip. Cairns is the most northern city in the state of Queensland and about a two hour flight from Brisbane. It has a sub-tropical climate and is most widely known for its easy access to the amazing northern Great Barrier Reef! Being a main tourist spot, Cairns has so much on offer and if you visit I’m sure you will never find yourself bored! Whilst in Cairns I did the world’s fastest jungle swing and dived in the Great Barrier Reef!1391997_10153418408024768_1511854224591684365_nMagnetic Island- Magnetic Island is a small island of the coast of Townsville. It’s a popular tourist destination for backpackers as it’s only twenty minutes from the city. On the island we stayed a the major hostel, which had very cute huts on the beach to sleep in! We also hired a car and drove around the island, exploring all the bays and beaches on offer.

Airlie Beach and the Whitsundays – The next stop was the famous Whitsunday Islands. These are a collection of many islands off the coast of Queensland that are known worldwide for the stunning views of the pure white silica sand. At the Whitsundays we did a two day and two night sailing trip in the Islands. On the trip we snorkelled, sunbathed on the boat, and visited the amazing Whitehaven Beach which is pictured below.10849743_10152669419389473_5461622811354460949_nAgnes Water/1770 – 1770 is a TINY village on the east coast that is famous for CASTAWAYS. If anybody has ever seen the TV show ‘Shipwrecked’, this is basically what ‘Castaways’ is. On the trip, which lasts for two days/three nights, you are stranded on a desert island with fifteen others, kayaks, snorkel gear and rubber dingies. It is basically a two day trip to completely relax and have fun with fifteen other backpackers. Although it is not well known, this trip was probably the favourite part of my whole five weeks away! (Mainly being due to the fact that the flight to the Island is a joy ride flight i.e. the pilot can fling the plane in any way he wants!)

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Noosa – Noosa is a town about an hour north of Brisbane and is easily accessible by public transport. It’s mainly just a weekend away for locals, with its beautiful beach and surfing conditions.

Read my next blog for the next part of the trip!
Continue reading “East Coast Road Trip (1)”

How’s things now in Manchester?

By Karl Vikat (University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia)

It is time for the concluding entry of this blog, as reading week has arrived and it is time to assess how a reverse culture shock might have manifested itself, as well as how re-integrating into Manchester has evolved.

As winter is approaching, with every leaf that hits the ground I realise more and more that missing out on winter in Australia has had quite an impact on me. Probably, of all adjustments to Manchester, weather and the tempo changes have been the most pronounced.

In Australia, most of the activities occurred outdoors; in fact, the distinction outside/inside did not really dominate thinking that much. After all, I still managed to go camping and swim in the ocean in the middle of the winter in Noosa. Now this summer I found myself starting to plan a camping trip a couple of weeks into December in the Lake District. It was only after a bleak realisation that it does actually get quite cold that I put the idea to rest along with habits of hanging out on the grass, or barbecues in the park. In that sense, if there is a reverse culture shock, then climate and weather are at the core of it.

I noticed that I pay more attention to the sky and nature now than I did earlier, and really enjoy the blue skies over Manchester when the clouds clear out. I have found the cold, harsh winds and cloudy days to inherently create an atmosphere where reality is viewed as more bleak and rough, whereas the reflections of the sun in the Brisbane River and colourful birdlife made for a more idealistic, optimistic environment. It definitely constitutes a change in lifestyle. I doubt that anyone would expect the Aquatics Centre to have a permanent outdoors pool here.

Also, in terms of wildlife, the diversity of subtropical Brisbane and the antennaed, shelled, auburn cohabitants have given way to squirrels hoarding their goods, ravens, and the default city-creatures, doves.

These disparities manifest themselves in conversations with friends in Australia who tell of a kaleidoscopic spring dominated by purple-blue Jacaranda trees blooming, 40 degrees outside and sunshine in full effect.

The speed of life has similarly undergone a subtle change. Obviously, I am in my final year and have quite a few extracurricular obligations, yet I have noticed the Manchester environment, the city-space, contribute to a perception of it being further accelerated. The way I see it, the wide roads, large space, infinite blue sky, the distance of the campus from the hustle and bustle of the city, and the large green areas in the city and on the UQ campus all help approach life from a calmer viewpoint. However, the noisy, crowded Oxford Road corridor at the heart of the University in Manchester creates a restless urban background-scenery, a relentless space of busyness. Seated among the trees of Whitworth Park, one still can hear the buses spit out smoke with every take-off. At lunchtime at UQ, unsurprisingly, most people gathered at an amphitheatre shaped park to the sound of the water fountain and songbirds.

In terms of interactions with people, I feel that rather than undergoing a cultural shock, drops have been added to the culturally fluid state that makes up my identity, with roots and branches in a wide variety of spaces and connecting to a variety of persons. That also means that, whereas I definitely feel a changed person, the transition to Manchester has been seamless. Arguably, I even appreciate the opportunities that Manchester offers more now. In particular, I am referring to enhanced dedication to the basketball team, starting a society – Struggle for Recognition: Indigenous Peoples’ Rights, and working with refugees.
Thus, with only one year to stay in Manchester, I would not speak of a reverse culture shock, but of a cultural spark; especially in terms of me seeking out new experiences and trips in the Northwest as a consequence of the perceived freedom of movement in Australia, as well as in terms of transposing the energy, invigoration and motivation of Australia to a demanding year in Manchester.
I carry a part of Brisbane, Australia in me, like I do parts of Manchester, UK, wherever I go. All in all, life in Australia has further galvanised a spirit of exploration expressed in freely, capriciously firing cultural sparks that I have since built upon in Manchester.

Amanda Blog 6: Places to go and things to do in Brisbane

By Amanda Chan (Australian National University, Canberra, Australia).

After my adventure in Sydney (as mentioned in blog 4), my next trip around Australia was to Brisbane, the capital of Queensland. The cheaper, better way for us to travel to Brisbane from Canberra was to take a coach to Sydney then fly to Brisbane. As people have been saying, an advice is that the earlier you plan your trip, the cheaper the tickets will be.

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Brisbane was named after the river on which it sits, so the best way to tour around Brisbane is definitely along the Brisbane River. To make things more convenient and dedicate to a better Brisbane, the Brisbane City Council operates the CityCat ferry. You could hop on and off the ferry unlimited times within two hours with one ticket.

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Even though University of Queensland and Northshore Riverside Park was the two end of the ferry route, we started our journey in South Bank out of convenience. South Bank is where the city beach, the wheel of Brisbane and most of the museums situated. Out of all museums, the Gallery of Modern Art is recommended.

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We happened to be at Brisbane when it was the Brisbane Festival. South Bank was also the place where you could enjoy the light show the best.

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Our next stop was Riverside, a place filled with modern skyscrapers. You could also walk to china town and other market place from this ferry stop. We managed to find a special Brazilian market and had some delicious lunch.

Our last ferry stop before going back to the South Bank was New Farm, to go to the Brisbane Powerhouse and New Farm Park. The Powerhouse was built in 1927-28 for the Brisbane Trams and was renovated as a modern entertainment hub in 2000. You could enjoy some free music, standup comedy or other performing arts show at the Powerhouse. Graffiti could also be seen here and there at the Powerhouse, adding an artistic feel to the building. Chilling or having a picnic at the New Farm Park outside the Powerhouse would be a great follow-up event.

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When it comes to scenery, mountains always come with water. And in Brisbane, together with the Brisbane River, there is Mount Coot-tha. Mount Coot-tha has the highest peak in Brisbane. You could choose to drive up or hike up to the peak where you could see Brisbane from the top. The best time to go is of course during sunset.

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Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is one of the most famous tourist spot in Brisbane and is highly recommended if you would like to get close to animals while being charged at a fair price. Other than koala, the sanctuary also has kangaroos, platypus, wombat and other animals.

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A rare situation where the koala is on the floor

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There might be special events during different times of the year, You could go to http://www.brisbane.qld.gov.au/whats-on/index.htm to find out the current featured events in Brisbane to plan a better trip.