Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Day 5 (by Paige and Austin)

Good morning world!  While everyone is back at home in the snow, we are waking up to 80-90 degree weather. With Australia being 15 hours ahead, today is St. Patrick's Day...so happy St. Patty's Day everyone! 

This morning we woke up to a lovely breakfast made by the staff at Crocodylus hostel. Some of the native food we had for breakfast consisted of eggs, canadian bacon, toast, fresh fruits, spaghetti, and beans. After breakfast we ventured off to a 45 minute hike known as Jindalba in the Daintree rainforest. This trail is about a 700m circuit with many steps and with signs to explore the marvelous design of the rainforest.The hike was on a boardwalk made by the Queensland park and wildlife. This rainforest is one of the richest forest in Australia with so much biodiversity in it with profound shapes, forms, and colors. It is also the oldest tropical rainforest in the world, even older than the Amazon rainforest. For those who don't know, most rainforests including the Daintree rainforest only has a meter of soil before it hits the base of solid granite. Obviously, this isn't the best for plants and trees to grow, but the Daintree still seems to flourish. 

After our hike we decided to cool off by hopping into what we called the Australian honeyhole. Some of us decided to be daredevils and jumped off a bridge that was nearby into the water. It was so refreshing and breathtaking. 

Soon after we made our way through downtown Mossgrove where we stopped by The Junction for a delicious buffet style lunch that consisted of the local Australian style cold cuts, salad and rice. Soon after a quick 10 minute ride, we arrived to the Mossman Gorge Centre where we embarked on a rainforest walk with an Aborigine guide. The guide was a funny, enthusiastic, and caring person that wanted nothing more than to share and educate his culture with us. His name was Roy but he wanted us to call him by his aborigine name "Dingo". He started off the tour by introducing us to his culture by a traditional Aborigine welcoming by having each one of us walking through the smoke from the burning of the melaleuca tree bark while he spoke in his native tongue. He did this because he wanted us to smell as his country, to feel welcome to his culture and ancestors. As we ventured through Dingos world, he taught us the ways of the Kuki Yalanji tribe. Every thing from how the Yalanji used the base roots the Red Pine trees as shields, and a form of communication by banging a rock against the flat root. He also taught us how just recently the Australian Government enforced a law that the Aborigine people need to abandon their local cultural ways of medicinal treatment consisting of using the native plants and animals to the requirement of using the Australian health system. 

One plant that caught my attention that Dingo showed us was the Spiked Tree which is equivalent to poison ivy and poison oak back in New England. Except for one thing--the poison in the Spike Plant is so strong that is stays in your body for decades and will reappear on your body on the same date every year...Just fascinating. 

Dingo finished his guided tour by showing us where the Yalanji would have their ceremony of marriage. This spot meant a lot to Dingo because of his life story and how the woman he was supposed to marry was taken away from her family as an infant as part of the stolen generation.

After working up a sweat, Dingo told us about a great swimming spot at the Mossman Gorge Centre. We were all very excited about this especially me because we could finally use our cameras and go pros to capture great pictures as we ventured through the rapids of the river. 

As we exited the beautiful rainforest of Mossman Gorge, we had one last stop at the Wildlife Park which is where a lot of the students were looking forward to because of the one on one interaction with the wildlife. It was simply amazing to be able to feed and get face to face with wallabies, kangaroos and the local reptiles. We finished up the night with a traditional Aussie BBQ that was prepared by the students.    

Now we are sleeping on picnic tables in sleeping bags as all the birds fly around us.

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