Sorry I’ve been off the map for the last 8 days, with no service or wifi! A lot has happened though and I have SO MUCH to update you all on!
We left Sydney! Sydney was amazing and I was so so sad to leave, but I figure that’s what this whole trip will be like. Every place is so beautiful and incredible and there’s never enough time to see and explore it all before we have to move on, but each new place is just as amazing and exciting! (Just means I need to make another trip back and spend more time everywhere)
Next we went to Maria Island. Maria Island is a beautiful little island off the coast of Tassie! (Yep, we left mainland Aus for the down down unda). Maria Island is a SUPER AMAZING little national park basically. It’s nearly untouched in the sense that it used to be another penal colony, but never became heavily populated. We stayed in an old penitentiary with no electricity! It’s also super cool because the wildlife has no real predators so *and I swear, no exaggeration!* You can make a 360 turn and see at least 3 wombats, a few paddy melons, a couple of wallabies, maybe a kangaroo or 20, and some prehistoric looking geese. There was also an interesting project just a few years ago where they introduced the Tasmanian Devil onto the island to make the only colony without the facial tumor disease, and so if you’re lucky you might spot a devil too! I also saw an echidna! A super rare and very shy little guy. There are just animals GALORE and it’s so mind blowing!!!
Side note: I love wombats, I call them fuzzy rocks :3 But my favorite is the paddy melon. Think smaller, fatter and rounder kangaroos!
While on Maria, we were working with the famous Scott Ling doing marine biology work. We snorkeled and helped him with his fish research identifying various fish in marine transects, as well as counted species in several intertidal transects. The snorkeling was ASTONISHING! I’ve never snorkeled before and for my first time, we were in a kelp bed filled with so many different fish species! It was like every second there was another MASSIVE fish that was beautiful and interesting! I also saw two stingarees!!! Everything we’ve done has just been so insanely mind blowing and I’m still wrapping my head around it all!
Whilst on Maria we also did an 11km hike scaling the side of a cliff essentially and could see the different terrestrial bioregions as we gained about 2000ft of elevation. Take it, this was the same day we had the “how to” into to snorkel, and so we went from sea level to the top of this mountain side and it was so insane!
It’s been so insanely full on, and each day was PACKED from very very very early to pretty late, finishing each night with a lecture, but it’s been such a rich experience. We were only on Maria for 4 days, but we packed in week’s worth of materials.
Fast forward to leaving the island (ON MY BIRTHDAY, I got to spend my 21st birthday in Tassie!!!) We went from Maria, took a ferry back to the mainland of Tas, and then took a bus to Hobart, had 2 lectures and then continued onto Maydena.
Maydena is a tiny town right by Mt. Fields National Park. We stayed in little cottages, and were out in the field all day each day. The cottages are super rustic and pretty nice! It’s almost like a farm, there are geese, chickens and ducks running around with a nice little goat pen too, but the coolest thing is their back-pond houses about 5 platypus!!! We’ve learned a fair bit about them already because they are such odd species, plus they are venomous, so they’ve fit well into our venom biology course.
Day 1 in Maydena, we went for an 18km (about 11 miles?) hike up in Mt. Fields National Park’s subalpine. It was INSANE. It was stunningly beautiful, but it was a rough hike. Crazy long, a lot of it had no marked trail, and about 1/3 of it was a boulder scurry literally jumping on these MASSIVE boulders of dolerite (Won’t lie, it was a bit terrifying). Day 2 we did a bit more hiking, which was rough cause we were all pretty destroyed from the day before, but did a vertical transect and data collecting and observing the fauna over 5 different bioregions as we gain elevation.
*I’m currently writing from Maydena, but can’t post until we get to Hobart in about 2 days time when we should be back in service*
But, yeah, this is getting super long, but I’ve left out so much still! Every day is packed with so many once-in-a-lifetime experiences and it’s so wonderful, but it’s exhausting as heck. We get a break day about every 2 weeks, so we’re all a bit ragged, but it’s like we still can’t squeeze all the amazing experiences in the time we do have.
If you want to hear more (and if I have service) shoot me an email and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can!