Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Outback

Hello all!

The group was happy to arrive in sunny Alice Springs-- what a change from our time in Sydney! We traded the opera house and aquarium for the blue skies and amazing red sands of the Outback. It was like entering a new world, and as we slowed down to this new reality our students seemed to be happy to see a new place and prepare for our next adventure.

Alice Springs is a quaint, small town, with some great shops and cafes where we spent mornings eating breakfast and sipping juice and coffee. The Desert Park in Alice was amazing, displaying the variety of environments in the Outback and showing off some amazing animals-- the nocturnal section of the park showed us some creatures which we might not have seen otherwise. Wildlife and Conservation students watched a raptor feeding display, the Photography group caught stunning images of the landscape, while the Filmmaking crew interviewed our presenter to discover more about Aboriginal life and culture. On our last night in town, we were lucky to experience a town carnival with fireworks to end our night in true 4th of July fashion.

Early the next morning, we met our guide Steve who would lead us on our expedition to Uluru and the 'real' Outback. Originally from New Zealand, Steve has traveled around the Outback for more than 25 years; he provided our group with an amazing array of information and unique perspective . When we arrived at Uluru (Ayer’s Rock), we spent a few hours on a silent hike around this massive natural wonder, a powerful event for us all. That evening we took photos of Uluru as the sun set in the distance, a perfect end to the day.

King’s Canyon was our next destination, with a challenging hike to an extraordinary vista below. While Steve pointed out fossils and explained the area’s geologic history, our Photography students took advantage of the unique rock formations and perfect lighting to capture some amazing photos. Our days in the Outback were packed with hiking, exploring, and even the occasional camel ride! We spent each evening around the campfire reflecting on the day. Nights in the Outback are quite cold, especially when compared to the warm, sunny days here, but this did not prevent many of us from sleeping under the stars around the campfire! Our group returned from our time in the Outback as a tight group of friends who will remember each other and our adventures here for a lifetime.

We are currently en route (via plane) to Townsville, trading the red desert sands for a lush, tropical environment and days full of snorkeling in the clear waters of the Great Barrier Reef. It will surely be another great adventure!

More soon.
-Patrick, Britt, and Charles