Something so simple has the ability to bring people together.
In our group of Canadians, who have been living in Canada House… 4 out of 5 have the chance to celebrate their birthday in Australia. As a October baby I unfortunately am not able to have the same luxury.
April 9th/12 is my half birthday, and my roommates decided to get me a present in celebration of this half special day!
Thanks Insia & Clare!
North Melbourne Kangaroo’s AFL Team;
I just want this time to thank the UWO International Exchange Program for this experience. Being on “Mid – Semester Break” here at VU, I have had some time to catch up on school work, blogging, as well as reflect back on my time overseas. Looking back at some of my earliest blogs, it really hit me how much I have done, and how much I have seen. It is incredible to think that I have done so much, and I feel I have matured drastically in only 3 months. It’s crazy to think about all the things I have been through while being away. Remember the time I was robbed of all my belongings in Surfer’s Paradise… It’s comforting to think how fast I was able to recover from that with the help of my family, and my roommate Madison. Things that seem like such a huge deal one moment, turn out to be so miniscule overall. Time heals everything. Don’t stress over the small stuff and YOLO. I have never taken that saying more to heart than I have recently. I only have 2 months left, and I wish that wasnt the case. I would love to stay here until school starts again and experience everything else Australia has to offer, but I can’t. It’ll be a good reason to come back though, and see what I wasn’t able to this time, and experience new things when I am older and wiser.
Being given this opportunity has opened up my mind to wanting to travel. Before this year, I had only been to Italy, the states and a few places in Canada. The world is a HUGE place with so much out there, and so many things I would love to see. Everywhere provides a different experience, and I can’t wait to have the opportunity to live it all. Australia is the start of a lifetime of travels for me.
So, once again I would like to send thanks to everyone who has gotten me to where I am right now. The International Exchange Office at UWO & VU, The Kinesiology Department of UWO, my friends, soph team, frosh and most importantly my family. Dad, Mom, SJ, Scott, and I can’t forget about the pets (Bailey, Boston, Benji, Toffee and Tiara) you all ROCK.
I am a happy panda who has just been diagnosed with the uncurable “Travel Itch.”
For school in Australia, a few of my roommates and I had the opportunity to fulfill our “activity” course requirement necessary for our degree at Western. Instead of taking classes like volleyball, tennis, basketball and badminton, we had the chance to choose from various Outdoor Education electives offered and we decided to take Theory and Applications of Rock Climbing.
I can officially say, I have never been so excited to go to a class in my life. The in-class sessions consisted of us talking about various topics surrounding rock climbing, watching really snazzy youtube videos about elite climbers, learning how to tie various knots, and being told what to bring while camping in the aussie wilderness. Not to mention our prof… or camp leader is an absolute beauty. He is the cutest man I think I have ever met in my life. He reminds me ALOT like my dad which makes it even funnier. By the end of the trip we all ended up calling him Guru cause he actually knows everything and anything about camping, rock climbing, and being awesome.
For the evaluation involved in this course, the majority of our mark was made out of us participating in a week long camp trip through the Grampian Mountain Park.
Sunday night before we left for camp, the roommates and I scrammbled to get everything together for our week away from civilization. Being the bright students we are, we decided it would be a good idea to prepare all our meals before hand to save time doing so while we were on camp… BAD NEWS BEARS. Do not do that. I repeat do not do that. Your food will go bad within 2-3 days and you will starve. By the end of the trip we ended up having some very… one would say creative meals. Tuna and cold falafels? Cold probably expired chili? Sour curry? and Chia – Oatmeal pudding? Yea… needless to say we definately failed at the whole food preparation frontier that comes with camping. OH! we also rented out a stove between the group of us.. and didn’t bother to think that we needed to rent out the fuel to get it going.. so we had a camping stove but no source of heat.Good job Ooompa Loompa’s 2.0. A warm meal was all we wanted the entire week, as it got quite chilly at night. I guess we will learn for next time… that is if we ever decide to go camping again.
Alright, now back to the super awesome exciting stuff where I actually tell you all the super rad and incredible things we got to do for school and marks and all that jazz!
Day one consisted of a very early morning as we had to make our way to Melton (middle of nowhere suburb) to meet up with the rest of the group for gear hire/rental and departure. Of course.. the Canadians were late again. Sorry team!
When we arrived we each received a harness, helmet, screwgate karabiner and an eight. We then got on the road and headed to Ararat to grab some lunch before entering the wilderness for the week.When we arrived at our first climbing location (Summerday Valley in the Grampiams) we jumped straight into things.
We made our way to the top of a mountain and began abseiling down to envitably rock climb back up. One by one we made our way down, and to be honest with you I was slightly nervous at first. It seemed sooo high and I definately was not confident with my abseiling ability at this point. In the grand scheme of things, this abseil was NOTHING compared to the ones we did later on in the trip. The afternoon was then spent learning the safety of climbing, belaying and actually climbing. It was INCREDIBLE. I have only ever climbed rock walls before, and this trumps that hands down.
Climbing as many of your would be surprised to hear, has almost nothing to do with upper body strength. The strength and position of your legs is what will make or break your climb. Flexibility and preservence is also key when trying to attempt a challenging climb. When there isn’t a hand hold, you really need to be creative to find alternate routes up the rock face. The sun was shining down quite brightly this day, and when I wasn’t climbing I found every possible chance to catch as many rays as I could. I ended up finished and completing about 4 climbs this day, with my hardest being about a level 15. (Google rock climbing levels… it’ll make more sense that way. The hardest noted climb to this day is around a level 34.)
After a long day of travelling and climbing, we made our way back to our first camp that we would be sleeping at for 2 nights. We set up the group tarp, our cooking area, and our tents. The 4 Canadian girls decided to share a tent this trip, as it saved us money and it would be warmer at nights. We then made dinner and sat around the campfire before an extremely early bedtime. At this point we were still clean, well fed, and the happiest of all the campers…
Day two came alot sooner than any of us wanted/expected. Waking up with the sun to get the most out of the day is alot harder than I thought. We spent another full day trying a new set of climbs in Summerday Valley, and then we had the chance to do the famous abseil on the Wall of Fools. It was quite a far way down one would say. Another amazing day in the Grampians, and I was finally getting the hang of rock climbing.
The night back at camp was similar to the previous night. Ate, campfire, sleep. We did however have a visitor who wasn’t of the human species.
It was a friendly little wallaby who decided to hang around for the majority of the night and also decided to try to snatch some food.
Day three was a very educational day as we had the chance to learn first hand how to set up the anchor systems which support the system. Using various techniques we were able to experiment with creating our own anchors. Ropes, slings, nuts, bolts, camming devices and other instruments were used. It also put a bit of trust in your partners, as we then had the chance to abseil down on the system we created. I’m still alive now, so I guess I did an alright job… Today was scorching hot and I burnt a bit since we were on top of the mountain for the majority of the day.
After a day in the mountains we headed to a new camp site which would be called home for the next 2 nights.
I preferred this camp site over the other one for sure. It was bigger and had a better area for the group tarp, our tents and most important doug. Doug is a huge part of camping. Doug is used for number 2’s. As a group, this is a frequent topic of conversation over the week. No shame. The topic of Doug was something I will never forget. As silly as it may sound, conversation about pooping can really bring a group together. When you are forced to live in such close proximities with others for an extended period of time in the wilderness, you begin to get extremely comfortable with yourself, and yourself within the group. By the end of the trip, a huge change in group dynamic and cohesion was experiences for the best. Doug is the shit!
Day four things started to get out of hand when it came to personal hygeine.
The bandana’s started to make an appearance, and I could tell I was getting gross and smelly. Andy informed me various times and on various occasions that deodorant is frowned upon when camping cause you make everyone else smell bad when you wear it. Showering is not an option while in the woods, so it wasn’t pretty. haha. I guess when everyone is in the same boat, you don’t notice how gross you look or feel. A common stench was something else that made the group feel comfortable with each other. Today was another full day of climbing, and the climbs definately got more difficult.
We were situated in a location where it was cold in the morning, but the sun made it’s way in the afternoon. Lizards covered the rocks and thought it was funny to scurry by my on multiple occasions. I am not a fan of these creatures and I think they could sense it. One of the climbs I attempted but sadly failed was called Masticating Mice. It was a climb that had required you to scale over a crack pushing into the wall, and it required ALOT of body strength.
Clare is a machine and managed to get her way up it… but I gave up eventually. With the lack of proper food, and sleep I didn’t have the energy to push through. Preceeding heading back to the camp site for the evening, I had the chance to do an extremelyyyyyy HIGH and deathdefying climb. I couldn’t even look down when I was mid way cause I knew I would feel nauscious by how high I was. When I finally made my way to the top, I clung to the wall at the top until I was lowered down. Euan lowered me down to solid ground. That was a highlight for sure and I think anyone with a fear of heights would of pasted out mid way up.
Back at camp, we decided to have dinner after we trekked to an area that is incredible to watch the sunset. After a 20 minute walk, we finally made it to this lookout. Hands down, this is the most overwhelmed I have felt on this trip. Everything was perfect.
The Canadians all were in utter shock with how beautiful the view, sky and atmosphere was. I think it’s safe to say, we felt on top of the world. The weather was cool enough that a bit of snuggling was needed, but warm enough to not need a jacket.
The group of us spent over an hour just looking out, and taking in our surroundings. I wish I could of stayed longer, it was beautiful.
After our trek home, and Insia being comic relief and humour the entire way back we made dinner. To be honest eating sucked. Our food at this point had gone bad, and we had to scrap together such make-shift meals that it was almost better if we didn’t eat. Life chats around the campfire occurred, I introduced the game Pterodactyl to the Aussies and we played a stick game that I will never forget… cause it was so annoying and I didn’t get how to play for the longest time.
I just lost the game. Yup, apparently it isn’t only a Canadian thing. “The Game” that was repressed in my mind has made it ways back to me, and I am forever playing again.
Goodnight world, time to zzzzz…..
Day five! Time for an hour long hike to the CAVE were we would be finished off our rock climbing experience. After packing only what was needed for the 3 days in the cave in our backpacks, we started our hike.
With litre’s of water, personal gear, group gear (ropes, devices, etc), food and clothes in our bags, they were not the lightest things to be hauling around. When we finally made it to the cave it was such a relief. The cave was SWEEET.
There was a perfectly sheltered area for sleeping which was done on tarps, thermorests and in a sleeping bag. Definately not the most comfortable sleep I have had. It was also brought to the Canadian’s attention that before the cave we were using our thermorest mats incorrectly. We hadent inflatted them and we were sleeping on flat mats. #useless. After we settled in at the cave and made some lunch… we used the rest of the afternoon for climbing. The weather crapped out on us within an hour, and it started thunder and lightning. I happened to be at the top of one of the climbs when the rain started coming, so I freaked out of course. Until the rain and storm past there was NO way in hell I was going up there. I would be the “tourist/camper” who would gets struck by lightning and be on the news. No chances were being taken here.
A few of us then decided to head back to the cave where Guru and Euan were setting up some Prussik ropes for us to experiment with. Prussiking is when you pull yourself up a line using two other devices.
Someone volunteered for me to go first, so I jumped on the chance. They also all thought it would be funny to grab the rope I was on and swing me around until I couldn’t feel my legs. While suspended a few metres off the group, I figured it would be an ideal time to whip out some acrobatics and cirque de soleil tricks.
Always the ridiculous human being . #YOLO.
The night in the cave was spent once again making dinner, sharing stories around the campfire and snuggling into bed extremely early. I have never gone to bed so early in my life compared to when I was camping. 9am bedtime is NOT normally for this night hawk. zzzz
Day six has finally arrived and was our last full day of camping.It was Rock Adventure Day!!! Guru and Euan spent the morning setting up this INSANE rock climbing loop which started off with a Flyin Fox Trapeze, then was followed by quite a long abseil, and ended off with a climb which brought you back to the beginning to start all over again.
While this was happening, we were guided to another cave for some group bonding and self reflection time.
As a group we had a great dynamic between the internationals and the auzzies which made the experience that much better. This was 100% my favourite day so far. The abseil was my favourite part. By this point I was so confident and fearless that I went down as fast as I could with the least amount of friction and resistance possible. We spent a few hours doing this “obstacle course” and then made our way back to the cave to tackle a few other climbs and settle in the for our last evening.
The Auzzies that we had the chance to camp with were amazing. Such diverse personalities that were perfect for a experience like this. While camping, it was really easy to get down in the dumps about things. Lack of proper nutrition, lack of sleep and being exhausted all the time, being cold, and most importantly having to go to the toilet outside.
Since they are all outdoor education students, they were such good mentors for us, and made our experience so much better! Waking up to singing every morning definately put me a instant good mood.
It was so hard to believe how fast the week went by! 7 days in the wilderness is the longest camp trip I have been on in my life! I am so impressed with how well we all handled it, and we were told that we were one of the best groups that Guru has had the chance to bring along with him. Guru is the best. #noughsaid.
Day seven, time to say goodbye to the Grampians and head home, back to civilization! After a week of close to starvation we made a pit stop on our way home at a local town. The group of us raided the grocery store of everything and anything we could put our hands on. Tim tams, icecream, oreos, buns, vegetables, dip, trail mix, chocolate, crackers… you name it.. we probably ate it. The ride was was very quiet as we were all exhausted from the week we just had! It was a good time to reflect on what happened, and appreciate how unreal of an experience we just had. It’s crazy to think that 50% of my mark for this class was from going on this camp.
best class ever. I love vic uni. I love australia. I love guru. I love my canadian roomies.
As of right now, I am caught up with my blogs. who would of thought this day would ever come! I am currently on reading break right now, so I have had a bit of time to catch up on work I didnt do last week, and prepare myself for my 12 day North Queensland trip coming up next Wednesday! My 3 roommates who went rock climbing with me are all headed up to experience Cairns, the Great Barrier Reef, Atherton Tablelands, Airlie Beach, the Whitsunday Islands, Rainbow Beach, Fraser Island and finally Brisbane. SO many exciting things are coming up in the next future that I am overwhelmed.
I’ll leave it at that for now,
where are the hyenas?
It’s about time that the Canada House girls threw a party. With the perfect house that we are provided with to host a party, we have seriously been slacking on planning one. With the many birthdays that have occurred in our house, we figured it would be a smart idea to celebrate them like the good ole’ highschool days and have a house party. We invited literally everyone that we knew who was in the Melbourne, Australia region… as well as Shalini 🙂
The invite list ended up being around 75 people, and I am certain that every single person made an appearance. The house was packed, by various international students, Canadians and auzzies!
I think it is safe to say that a banging time was had by all!
red solo cup.
As a prereq for the rock climbing class we are enrolled in at VU, we had to go on a 2 days camp trip to Mount Franklin. The trip was called OLATS – Outdoor Living and Travel Skills and basically introduced us to the fundamentals of camping in the Australian wilderness. We hit a road block extremely early in the trip when we arrived at our camp site. Our trailor had been “broken” into and all of our food was stolen as well as our eskie. After a fair amount of panicing that we would be starving, we decided to head back into town to grab some food. As we made our way back the bumpy dirt road, we were pleasantly surprised that our trailor had just unhitched at the back and the eskie had simply rolled out the back and was sitting in the middle of the road.
After our mini crisis was resolved we learned basic tarpology, knots, tent and base camp set up. After all this was finished, we began our afternoon of orienteering through the wilderness. Our camp leader paired us up and gave us a land map with different areas marked off. We then proceeded into the bush with a compass instructed to find our way and identify markers that were placed on trees. I was paired with my roommate Madi and we got lost right off the bat. We ended up pairing up with our other two roommates and had a forest photoshoot instead.
That preoccupied quite alot of time, and we eventually made our way back to camp being unsuccessful with marker locating.
The evening was spent making dinner (which we had premade, cause we are complete camp cooking newbs) and relaxing by the campfire. I tend to get tired earlier when camping, and I ended up passing out shortly after 9pm. Lights out for Sammy!
Waking up as the sun comes up is something that I had to get used to on this trip, as well as the rock climbing trip (follow my blog, this will be written about shortly..) The group of us made breakfast, finished orienteering, collected the tree markers and then drove to our next destination for a bit of abseiling.
Abseiling was great! We were briefly taught how to place anchors in the rocks in order to create the whole system used for abseiling. We each had a chance to go down a couple times, and get a taste of what we would be doing on our week long camp trip to the Grampians a few weeks later!
Camping for marks. 🙂
Sydney, Australia… a place I have always dreamed of going to see, but never thought in a million years I would have the chance to actually experience. My travel itch had started acting up at the beginning of March and it was finally time to plan a trip to visit Lisa Murphy (fellow UWO exchange student) with Clare and Insia (lovely roomies).
We boarded our first-class flight on Tiger Airways on Wednesday afternoon so we would have an extended weekend in Sydney.
When we arrived in Sydney we had to make a few connections on trains, and buses before actually arriving at our destination which was Bondi Beach. Yeah… Lisa lives in an apartment which looks out on Bondi Beach. wtf!? #livingthedream
Lisa’s apartment is amazing. Leaning against the wall right beside her door in the hallway was a surfboard. #stereotypicalsurflife… am I right? The apartment is quite small, and all the tenants have to share a room but with a view like her’s it is totally worth it. When you exit her apartment and roam the streets you will be overwhelmed by the amount of cafe’s, surfboard shops, boutiques and the infamous McDonalds. Nothing like a 30 cent icecream to finish off a long day.
Waking up to the sunshining in the window and the sound of waves crashing outside is incredible. Clare, Insia and I got our things organized for the day and set off for a day at the beach.
Bondi Beach is covered in people who like to be active. They actually have gym playgrounds built on the beach. With the various running tracks that are avaliable for those interested, people are able to do body weight exercises on these adult junglegyms.
We then planted ourselves on the beach to catch some rays before grabbing some lunch. I met this really nice guy who offered to give Clare and myself a surf lesson and use his surf board for a bit. Hamish my surf instructor from surfer’s paradise wouldn’t be to please with me as I lost my natural ability to surf. I got up once, and called it a day.
Since Lisa had heaps of class during the day, she advised us to do the Bondi to Coogee walk in the afternoon, as it has an amazing view of the Ocean. She was spot on. Absolutely incredible.
Our first full evening in Sydney consisted of Lisa’s friends and Clare, Insia and I hitting up the Sexpo at the Sydney Convention Centre. No need to go into detail here, but I can definately say this was an experience…
TGIF, it’s extreme obnoxious tourist time. Bright and early friday morning the 4 of us made our way downtown. Everyone in Sydney is so fit. They are either playing footy in a field, practising yoga or going on a jog.
After passing through the botanical garden we made our way to Circular Quay station which is one of the main city hubs in Sydney. Off Circular Quay is the Sydney Harbourfront where you will see the Sydney Bridge, and the Opera House. We grabbed lunch at a popular spot in downtown Sydney called The Rocks.
The Rocks has a row of stalls which sold market style goods and food. I had a Japanese Pancake for lunch and it was to DIE for. yumm yumm yumm.
I experienced another one of those,”is my life real” moments while I was here. Everything was perfect. I was with 3 amazing friends, acoustic music was playing in the background and the sun was shining down on us. I wouldnt of traded that moment for anything.
After lunch, I picked up a few souvenirs that I have sent back to Canada to a few friends, and we then headed down to the Harbourfront. As we approach the Harbour I began to get really excited. It was a surreal moment for me. I had always dreamed of seeing the Sydney Opera House, but I couldn’t begin to believe it was going to happen within minutes.
To get a better and different view of the harbour, we caught a free ferry to the Zoo and back which cruised through the harbour. We then made our way back to the dock to grab some gelato before heading back to Bondi Beach.
Before heading out the Trailor Park Boys comedy show that was being played in Sydney, the 4 of us grabbed gourmet burgers at Moo Burger which is a restaurant located right below Lisa’s apartment. Clare and Lisa were feeling a bit adventurous and tried a Kangaroo burger bahaha. This is defs on my bucket list before I head home. Next, we made our way down to the theatre were the TPB’s was playing to meet up with Lisa’s brother and his GF.
We received free tickets from the TPB’s themselves through Lisa when we went out with them the weekend before in Melbourne. Bubbles is following me on twitter, he let me wear his stage glasses and bought me a jaggerbomb. yup, true story. We grabbed a few drinks before the show… 2 coffee’s and baileys came out to 28$ I am never buying any sort of drink in Australia ever again. #truestory
The show was hilarious. Clare and I volunteered to go on stage and participate in one of the acts, “Are you smarter than a First Grader.” Thankfully we were well informed and knowledgable kinesiolgy students and when the question, “How many bones are in the body,” came up we knew right away. Apparently some other contenstants took that question in a complete different direction and insisted on saying there is only one bone… and followed by drawing a penis. lol. Good times were had by all!
St Patrick’s Day Sydney Australia Edition – Well I can first and foremost say, it was NOTHING like a SPD at UWO. The morning consisted of the gang of us getting our green swag on, making buckwheat pancakes, jammin out to some irish classics and sipping.. or in my case skulling goon sangria.
Things got a little out of hand, and it ended up being only Lisa and I headed out to the city to a Irish pub called P.J Gallaghers. Come to our surprise, this is a family restaurant so Lisa and I, ordered a pizza, grabbed two pints, skulled them and made our way out of there as soon as possible. We then decided to check in on the rest of Lisa’s friend and headed back to Bondi for the remainder of the afternoon to rest up for the evening ahead. The evening ahead didn’t actually happen for me because I fell asleep just before dinner and slept through the night. Woops. #stpattysdayfail? #stpattyssuccess? I guess it’s pretty awesome to be able to say that I celebrated a SPD in Sydney Australia. Oh also, I checked telling a cab to go to P. Sherman, 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney off my bucket list.
The morning after SPD was an early one. Clare and Insia were taking a 14 hour train ride back to Melbourne, but I had to fly. The reason being… I was going to the LENNY KRAVITZ concert in the evening and I had Meet N’ Greet tickets provided by the lovely Sara Vukicevic! She had won tickets while at a club one night and chose me to be her guest!
The concert was unbelievable. I don’t think I have been to such an amazing concert before. I’m not a die hard Lenny fan, but that didn’t matter.
He is such an amazing entertainer, and knows how to get a crowd going. We were in first 20 rows so we had an amazing view. This is one big highlight of my whole Australia experience so far. Thanks so much Sara for everything!
I wish I could go into more detail about everything that went down this weekend, but with being so busy, it’s hard to find a few minutes to sit down and actually reflect and write down what has been going on. All you need to know is I am having the best time ever, and this place is incredible.
live the life you love.