Our wildlife biology class takes place over 5 weeks, luckily, most of this time is spent in the field. We went on a tour through Border Ranges National Park, and even got to camp in the rainforest. This is a picture of our class (minus me as I am taking the picture.)
Our magical mystery tour (the prof's words) began at 9am Thursday morning. We made a stop in a town called Nimbin before heading to the rainforest. Nimbin is like... what I imagine the 1960s were like. I'll just leave it at that.
We took a detour to see some of the huge fruit bats that live in the area. These are called flying foxes, because they are about the size of a fox - so cool!
After Nimbin we drove to Border Ranges National Park and took in several of the views. These pictures are really a poor representation of Australia. The vast majority of the country is hot and dry and flat, we just happened to be on the East coast near the Great Dividing Range. This is most topography there is in Australia.
The land we were on is actually Aboriginal property, given back to the indigenous people fairly recently by the government. One is supposed to ask the elders of the tribe permission to actually climb Mt. Warning (indigenous name is Wollumbin), the volcano that is the focal point of the area. Our professor did this prior to our arrival. Before this field trip, I had looked into climbing the mountain myself, and found out that women weren't actually supposed to. It's so interesting to ask an Australian what they think about the indigenous people. I inquired about Wollumbin to several locals, some told me that I should definitely get permission as it is the right and respectful thing to do, and some were angered that Aboriginal people even have control of the land at all. (One told me to "stuff them," which basically means forget them.)
Personally, I have huge amounts of respect for this people group. They are probably the most under-appreciated group of indigenous people in the world. We hear about the Actecs, Incas, Mayans, Native Americans, and their great contributions to society or how progressive their architecture or agriculture was. However, I am ashamed to say that I had never even heard about Indigenous Australians, let alone knew that they are the oldest surviving group in the world. It's thought that Aboriginal people have inhabited Australia for 60,000 years. - and Australia is not an easy place to live considering most of it is a desert and the ocean surrounding it is swimming with deadly sharks, jelly fish etc. etc. Furthermore, instances of massacre and murder have taken place, relatively recently in some cases, and nobody seems to know about it. As much as I have doted on Aussies, I will say that sadly racism is alive and well in this country. Australia still has a long way to go regarding this (just like the US).
Anywho, we saw lots of cool wildlife during the day. This is a Bower bird, who was being very camera shy.
The camping trip was a few days later. We took our final exam for biology class in the evening. The next morning I woke up at dawn and was thrilled to see a few wallabys wandering around. What a privilege to get to see these animals in the wild.