Friday, May 25, 2018

Day 13

Students listening to tour guide (James) talk about bananas at the Sydney Market
Main alley in the wholesale market (within the Sydney Market)
Today is our final day in Australia, so we had to make the most of it with some tourist stops as well as some educational ones. We started the day bright and early and made our way to the Sydney Flower and Fruit market. This market is open from 5 a.m. to 11 a.m. but business owners can come in as early as 3 a.m. to purchase products for their shops. The market itself has around 500 employees, with around 1,000 retailers between the flower, fruit, wholesale, and other retail markets. There are a few separate buildings that separate the market, such as the flower market, the fruit market, wholesale, and a separate area just for the bananas. We got to try some of the tasty bananas and cantaloupe, and enjoyed talking with the different vendors about their businesses. The market is very environmentally friendly, recycling over 70% of their waste. They also are the leading business in Australia for the most solar panels used. It was a very interesting tour and we wrapped it up by enjoying breakfast at one of the cafes in the market.

Picture of the Scenic Cableway
Scenic Skyway in transit
View of the Jamison Valley with the Three Sisters
The group then travelled to Scenic World in the Blue Mountains. Students had the option of enjoying four different options provided by Scenic World. The first option was the Scenic Railway, which is a passenger train that goes down the side of the mountain at a 52°angle to the valley below. A major point of laughter for the group came from the ride playing the Indiana Jones theme song all the way down the hill. From there, the group got to walk around on the Scenic Walkway, where the group got to see temperate rainforest, and an example of early Australian mining. The group also had the opportunity to ride on the Scenic Cableway, which was a giant gondola that could carry up to 84 people from either the Scenic Walkway or from the Scenic World visitor center. The last option everyone got to experience was the Scenic Skyway, which spans 270 meters spanning two different cliffs that rise out of the Jamison Valley. From there, students could get to hike on different paths to see different sights of the valley and waterfalls.

Our final stop of the day was at the Featherdale Wildlife Park. This place had tons of different types of animals, like golden pheasants, bats, koalas, kangaroos, and even penguins! Some of us got some photos with the koalas that we have been looking forward to for the entire trip. A lot of the animals they allowed us to pet and feed treats to included some farm animals that made us feel back at home again! Having a small kangaroo next to you eating out of your hand was lots of fun! They also had a variety of birds- both exotic and common. The Australian pelican looks very similar to the crane in America. Finally, we got to see some more crocodiles, since we saw some at the crocodile farm towards the middle of our trip. It was interesting seeing all the different types of animals they have at the park and seeing and holding them up close.

Wallaby at the Featherdale Wildlife Park
We then made our way back to the hotel to clean up for our farewell dinner at Nick’s Seafood. It was nice to sit down with our classmates and reminisce on the trip for our final night. After supper, some of us went into the Sydney Harbor to see the first night of the Vivid Light Festival in Sydney! Our group flies back to South Dakota tomorrow afternoon!

Sarah Eggert and Kathryn Haeska

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Day 12

Our first full day in Sydney was one for the books! 
At Meat Livestock Australia, a cow made up of labels and stamps used during processing was there to greet us. 
We visited the Meat & Livestock Association to meet with executives about where the meat industry in Australia is headed. We spoke about predictions for both U.S. and Australian imports and exports, and also learned about the cyclical changes that happen from season to season. We talked about the meat standards process. Over 55,000 Australian farmers are Meat Standard Australia certified, a stamp only given to premium grade and quality meat producing operations. Meat and Livestock Australia's innovative marketing and advertising teams have designed creative and humorous commercials to encourage the public to buy and consume Australian meat. Their welcoming staff made the experience unforgettable.

Pictures under the Sydney Bridge proved to be challenging today with the breeze out on the water.
We then journeyed towards Circular Quay where we boarded Captain Cook's Cruises for lunch on the water. The boat ventured around the harbor while giving commentary on the history of Sydney's wharf and the sights along the water. The seafood buffet was plentiful with dessert to top it off. Students took advantage of the sky deck for an even more beautiful view of the harbor.

The view from the base of the opera house, overlooking the water that we navigated during our lunch cruise.
Taking a break during our tour at the Opera House.
Once off the ship, the students walked along the harbor to arrive at the famous Sydney Opera House. The group had an informational tour given by a guide talking into a head piece. The headphones made the tour very efficient for everyone to hear. The Opera House was opened by Queen Elizabeth for the first time in 1973.  The design came from Jorn Utzon who submitted drawings, but no plans for how to build the beauty. Years were dedicated to the construction, and several times Utzon went over budget. He had a great crew behind him in engineering and building the Opera House. Despite construction workers not using safety harnesses, there were thankfully no deaths. At the turn of new government, before the Opera House was finished, Utzon was forced to resign. Utzon left Australia and told Queen Elizabeth not to mention him at the opening. He never returned to see his work finished. Even though Utzon never came back to Australia, he was able to design remodeling plans later in his life. Now that he has passed, his 70 year old engineer son is supervising the remodeling project. Queen Elizabeth did a second opening in 2006 with this time mentioning Jorn Utzon. The color is to resemble sea shells and the design comes from the hollow of a boat. The group visited three of the theatres, one small and two large beautiful ones. The one large theatre was home to the largest organ in the world. This organ has 10,244 pipes. It is incredible that the modern design of the Opera House was created fifty years ago.
The whole group was able to capture the memories of the Sydney skyline on the top deck of the ship.

After the amazing tour, the group separated and found places to eat and did a little shopping for the night.
A tapestry made of wool in Melbourne was designed by Utzon to help with the acoustics for this room in the Opera House.

Kirsten Barott, Kacy Schniedermeyer, Jackie Pajl

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Day 11

Here is a photo of Millstream Falls
Today was our last day in Queensland, and it started out with a great breakfast of bacon and eggs provided by the amazing staff at the Bedrock Village. After breakfast, we began making our way back to Cairns, but we made a few stops along the way. The first stop was at Millstream Falls National Park. Here we were able to walk down to a viewing platform where we got to take pictures and view the gorgeous waterfall. On the way back to the bus, we noticed a sign that talked about how Millstream Falls was an area where many Australian soldiers were camped out at during WWII. There was also a WWII Memorial trail that we did not have the chance to hike due to time limitations. Then we left Millstream Falls, and we continued driving through a region of Australia called the Atherton Tablelands, which is an elevated “Cool Tropical” region. This area is full of beautiful scenery, trees, and windy roads.
Scenery at Millstream Falls

Our second nature stop was the Mt. Hypipamee National Park. The national park is within the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, which contains a wide variety of plant and animal species. In the center of the park is a unique, hidden treasure: a large crater. This crater was formed by a gaseous explosion thousands of years ago, and is the only one in Northern Queensland. The crater is 58 meters down with sheer granite sides and holds a crater lake. The conditions of the national park closely match the subtropical rainforest of South Queensland and New South Wales. The forest floor is full of butterfly roots which are perfect for small animals to shelter in. The large trees support many arboreal animals and tree-dwelling animals, including four different types of possums that forage on fruits and leaves.
Picture of the sheer granite wall of the Mt. Hypipamee crater

This is the explanation of how the curtain fig tree was formed over many years.
Our third stop of the day was at Curtain Fig National Park. We took a short walk to see a very large, amazing curtain fig tree. The process that the tree took to becoming a curtain fig tree is really interesting. It began as a regular tree which had a seed deposited onto it and it began to grow. That seed was a strangling fig seed, and as it grew it developed aerial roots and eventually circled and strangled the host tree. This ended up causing the original tree to fall over into another tree and become angled. Then, more vertical roots formed off of the strangling fig tree. This caused it to have the curtain-like appearance, and the original tree began rotting away. Today was a great day for visiting all three national parks as we had beautiful weather for wandering around the Australian wilderness.
An amazing view of the entire curtain fig tree
Grace, Tammy, and Ellys

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Day 10

Waking up in the small village of Bedrock, we were greeted with the delicious smell of a home cooked breakfast early in the morning. Filling our stomachs with hot bacon, homegrown eggs and toast, we were ready for all that lay ahead. Day 10 was full of exploration, with volcano tours and fig tree climbing, to walking through pastures and cattle yards.

To start the trip, we went to see the Undara lava tunnels. Unlike common volcanos, this one is not located on a plate, but was created by a hot spot under the ground, and acted like a vent. Undara is an aboriginal word for long way, much like the long reaching tunnels.

While in the caves many stopped for pictures with their friends.
The Mikochi tunnel entrance was built by loose stone. 
The caves were created by the lava when a thin crust was created and poured or followed underneath that layer. The aboriginal people never did dwell in the caves as they were afraid of being trapped in and not seeing out. However, this was different for one cave. Mikochi was a tunnel that was open on both ends and has been a confirmed place of residence as they have found artifacts like crushing stones and bones. We got to take a bunch of photos, walk up the hills, and some of us even walked around the top of the volcano also known as the Kalkani Crater rim. It was interesting to see all of the trees and grass that grew in it after a couple hundred thousand years post the explosion. We then ate lunch and traveled onward to a Brahman Cattle Ranch.

A kangaroo that we named Marvin.
The leucaena plant that was used to increase protein intake in their cattle. 
The Whitewater Station is owned by the Saunder’s who raise mostly Brahman cattle over 25,000 hectares of land. The 4,500 cattle are sold as live exports as it is difficult to fatten cattle in the North. These cattle are weaned at 180 kg around a year of age, and are kept until they are around 300 kg at two years old when they are sold. One innovation this farmer has started is the use of Leucaena plant within the pastures. This plant is used to increase the protein intake in the cattle by around 21% more than their grass alone. The plant grows well in high phosphorus ground like what is found in the warm area of the North.

Mr. Tom Saunders with three of his working dogs moving the livestock to a new pen.
One of the many bulls used on the “Whitewater Station”.

After visiting the Brahman farm, we saw a fig tree that was over 500 years old and took a group photo.
The final stop of the day was at the big fig tree. This tree is estimated to be over 500 years old, and is still standing strong. Like most of the days in Australia, we were extremely busy but made memories that are sure to last a life time.

Upon finding a dead end, we decided to take another group photo, to make all the moms out there happy.

Shianne Teas and Nick Timmerman

Monday, May 21, 2018

Day 9

Barron Gorge Falls seen during the Sky Rail through the Rain Forest
SDSU students walking along the boardwalks and taking in the World Heritage Rainforest
Today we began with a 7.5km trip on the sky rail over 900,000-hectares of tropical rainforest that covers approximately 0.12% of the total landmass of Australia. The World Heritage Rainforest is protected and preserved by the International World Heritage list. After getting off of the sky rail onto the board walks, we saw a beautiful waterfall along with many different plants and tree species. The tropical rainforest is home to over 12,260 plant species, and 678 of those are not found anywhere else in the world. Along one of the boardwalks, we were able to see one animal in the rainforest: a wild bush turkey.

After leaving the sky rail, we traveled to an avocado, mango, and lime orchard called Blue Sky Produce. The operation is family owned and managed by Matthew Fealy.
Mathew Frealy discussing his avacodo orchard with the students

Mathew Frealy discussing his irrigation system
They have owned the farm for 5 years, and on 62 hectares have 5,100 avocado trees, 3,000 mango trees, and 800, lime trees. From the time they have owned the farm, they have increased production from 3000 trays to 41,000 trays of avocados to which Fealy attributes to mulching. Most of all the mulch comes from the trimmings of the trees that are mulched and put back on the soil. The farm’s biggest cost is labor, because everything is hand picked and hand packed. The second highest cost to the farm is water to the irrigation system. Fealy’s grandfather helped build Tinaroo dam that supplies water to many local farms. The farm changed from a sprinkler irrigation system to drip irrigation due to reduced water loss from evaporation and increased efficiency in getting water to 40cm in the soil. All of the trees are grafted to reduce time to maturity, increase production, and to increase disease resistance. His main method of pollination is using a large sprayer and just letting the fan blast the trees so a large amount of pollen goes into the air to pollinate the other trees. Fealy’s biggest tip for consumers was to buy in preparation for a meal, and not the day of. Also buy a hard avocado, and DO NOT squeeze them as it will bruise the avocado.

One of Mungalli Creek’s Jersey cows enjoying her pasture meal
The final stop for the day was the Mungalli Creek Biodynamic Dairy. They are a family owned operation, and believe their food should be as natural as possible. Here, we tried various types of their cheeses, yogurts, milk and other products that they make on the farm and locally. They currently support nine farms with their business, and milk 600 cows themselves. They also maintain 4,000 free-range laying hens. A Biodynamic certified farm is one step further than a certified organic farm. The difference between them is mostly due to their soil, which is all natural and never treated with anything. The soil is rich with nutrients due to tapping into the biology of the microorganisms that lie within the soil.
A view of the biodynamic dairy farm’s dairy herd in their paddock
They have a mixed cowherd of Jersey, Swiss Brown, Aussie Red, and Friesian. The herd produces 14-16 liters a day per cow. They use natural remedies like essential oils for treating the cows for mastitis. Their biggest customers are Woolworths and Cole’s grocery stores, as well as specialty shops along the eastern seaboard of Australia. The group ended the day by traveling to Bedrock Hotel in Mount Surprise.
One of the many products produced by Mungalli Creek Dairy 

Ellys Johnson, Callie Kukuchka, and Rachel Bakko

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Day 8

Today was a fun-filled day that involved swimming, fish, and shopping! We started out getting up bright and early ready for our next adventure. We took a walk around Cairns to try and find some breakfast. A few found a small market, and the rest of us found, of course, Macca’s (McDonalds). We wanted to eat a small breakfast however, because we were in for quite the treat. 
Lexi getting ready to jump into the ocean
Our adventure for the day was snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef. We got to the pier a little early and managed to sneak in some shopping. Then we gathered the group and headed to the boat. We were the first group there and it seemed like smooth sailing. Things began to get a little rocky as we headed out further into the water. The weather was a little less than ideal. It was slightly rainy and the winds had picked up pretty quick. It almost felt like being back in South Dakota, apart from the ocean. These big winds caused a “little” wave storm to bless our travels to the reef. Per our advisor’s advice, we sat towards the back of the boat. Everything was fine until we realized that the back was where the sea sick people went to try to get some relief from the waves with their doggie bags in hand. Pretty soon, there were a lot of people running towards us. But, before you knew it, we were at the reef! 
Kirsten, Hanna, Ashley and Lexi on the platform taking a break
We got a quick introduction on how it would all work. We could go snorkeling, scuba diving, or go on a glass bottom boat. While we were all still trying to get our sea legs, we suited up in Lycra wetsuits to protect ourselves from the “stingers” (jellyfish).
Tammy and Callie snorkeling
In true jackrabbit fashion we hopped right in and saw some beautiful sites.
Ashley strikes a pose for the underwater camera
We were stationed on a platform that was right around a part of the reef that housed many different varieties of fish including the pet fish, Wally. He is a big Maori Wrasse fish that loves to get attention. Many of us got our pictures with Wally. 
There was a photographer to take pictures of us with Wally

We also were able to rent an underwater camera thanks to our advisors. We enjoyed taking it around and gathering as many pictures as we could. Once we were done with the 5 hour break on the reef, we boarded the boat to come back to the shore. The ride back was a lot smoother because of the direction of the wind. 
This is a parrot fish – one of the many colorful fish on the reef

When we got back we had the freedom to do what we wanted. Most of us got cleaned up, ate some food, and went shopping. What a great way to end a great day!
Area we explored out on the reef

Served us lunch out on the platform
Jackie gives it a thumbs up. We would all do it again but maybe on a nicer day
Some of the beautiful scenery we captured with our underwater camera 
Kirsten Anderson and Hanna Hartman