Rachel Down Under!


Posted in Australia, Sydney by rssmith218 on October 13, 2010

What do you get when you combine 150 biologists, a mandatory “sea-themed” dress code, and a four-hour boat trip with an extremely generous open bar?

I’ll give you a hint. The answer is either a) a really bad joke or b) the BEES “Fanta-sea” Harbour Cruise (BEES = School of Biological, Earth, and Environmental Sciences at UNSW)

The correct answer is b) the Fantasea Harbour Cruise, and what a crazy night it was. I wish I had charged my camera batteries prior to the cruise, as there were some pretty creative costumes. Not only was Team Zissou along for the ride, but I (dressed as a lobster) was also impressed by the mermaids, jellyfish, and my favorite, a blue-bottle, that were all on board for the night. We toured the harbour, traveling in what seemed like endless circles around the Sydney Opera House, Harbour Bridge, and Luna Park.

The one picture that I did manage to capture of the cruise actually sums up the night fairly well:

Can you see the Harbour Bridge through that blur? Haha, me neither.

This extraordinarily fun night was followed by another great day exploring the Sydney coast with my pal Aisha. Our attempt to walk the Spit-to-Manly coastal walk was foiled by a bus-driver who skipped our stop and dropped us in the random town of Curl Curl. Even with this setback, we were determined to make our way to Manly, and we arrived in time to do this coastal walk to North Head instead.

The Manly Coastal Walk, like the rest of Sydney, is beautiful. Here are a some pictures from our hike:

You know I love my cliffs…

And my obscure views of the city…

But look at this, it’s a Hanging Swamp! A new type of ecosystem for me to be excited about!

And now, wildlife!

Unfortunately, aside from this cormorant, Aisha and I saw little wildlife on our journey, despite my constant search for BANDICOOTS, an endangered marsupial that is protected within Manly’s Sydney Harbour National Park.

Bandicoots are mostly nocturnal, and they have become endangered primarily as a result of human activites- fragmentation of bandicoot habitat, driving of motor vehicles, and even the human introduction of animals such as cats, dogs, and foxes have contributed to declines in bandicoot populations. See below- 8 known bandicoots killed by cars in 2010!

Unfortunately, we never did see a bandicoot (although Aisha may or may not have stepped on a rat).  However, we did reach our ultimate destination, good ole’ North Head. What a view!

However, from the map above, you can see that our trip to North Head was only half of the journey, and we made our way back to Manly ferry terminal, passing secluded beaches, waterfalls, and wildflowers on our way:

This isn’t a good picture, but these flowers are called Flannel Flowers; true to their name, they feel just like flannel! It also turns out that they are the floral emblem of my state of New South Wales!

And so ends another great walk and another fun-filled weekend. In lab, I have finalized the plans for my experimental design and the UNSW workshop is hard at work on the production of my plates for the field season. I am splitting my time between reading more papers (a never-ending activity), and helping to clean last year’s field equipment in preparation for November. I can’t wait until I can actually get out in the field and am able to explore a bit more of Australia’s Eastern coast!


One Response

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  1. Lenore said, on October 16, 2010 at 7:05 am

    Rachel, you are just having TOO MUCH FUN! I am jealous.
    I have never heard of a hanging swamp – interesting.

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