Story submitted by Bianca Dittman. Photo credit: Professor Lance Gentry
Before leaving the United States my mind always seemed to be thinking about Australia. I had so many unanswered questions and my curiosity about the country was through the roof. The two days of traveling to get there were both very long, but I would give anything to be able to experience what I did all over again. All of my questions about the amazing country were answered and I learned so much more beyond what I was anticipating! Although it was not a culture shock being in an English speaking land, the people, food, and culture still was very different. Our days in Australia were always filled with activities, and there was never a dull moment in the Land Down Under. We did all the major attractions and visited the must-see sites. Below is a journal entry of what a typical day was like for us.
January 7th, 2015
Today was my favorite day so far! Snorkeling and scuba diving in The Great Barrier Reef was an opportunity and experience of a lifetime! I saw so many beautiful tropical fish as I went diving. I saw around a sea turtle and watch it swim away and then as I jumped in the water to scuba dive for the second time and I found myself staring at a barracuda, now that’s something I won’t forget. At first I thought it was a shark because it was huge but it just turned out to be a barracuda. I also swam so close to an anemone and saw the clown fish swim in and out of it; it reminded me of Nemo which was cute. Seastar cruises was such a nice cruise line and I am so glad that we went with a smaller cruise line rather than a big one. Seastar made sure that everyone was seeing all the sea creatures and made sure to point out the history behind things such as Giant Clams and they were informative of the safely precautions to be taking while in the water.
It was very obvious while staying in Cairns that it wouldn’t be the town it is today if it wasn’t for the tourists. Cairn’s thrives off of tourists taking their sea cruises, staying in their hotels near the beach, dining out at their nice beachfront restaurants, taking a raft down a river, and holding a koala for the first time. Tourism seems to be what keeps the money flowing in the beautiful town of Cairns. Being a tourist in both Cairns and Sydney, I was able to evaluate how I spent my money, how much money I spent, and what I spent it on. In the class I am currently taking about tourism and marketing in Australia, I am now able to more closely evaluate the importance of tourism in countries like Australia and recognize how they market to tourists. Australia attracts not only one group of people, but also several different groups with different tastes, desires, and expectations. Tourism is indeed an important moneymaker for Cairns and Sydney but it is their marketing for their city, attractions, and country that draws people in to what their country has to offer for an individual.
We visited Sydney for a week and then traveled by plane to Cairns, the tropics of Australia for the remaining week. The two places were very different! Sydney was similar to San Diego, California and Central Park, NYC. Cairns on the other hand was very different. This was my first time being in the tropics before. The air was the most humid thing I have experienced, the water was the warmest I have ever swam in, and the sand was so soft. The one thing everyone had to be aware of in Cairns was the killer jellyfish. The beaches had nets roped off for swimming. If you go outside of the swimming net to fish it was considered very dangerous because of how populous those jellyfish were in the tropics. The land in both Sydney and Cairns was filled with beautiful mountains, beaches, and rainforests. In Cairns, one thing you could always count on was seeing wallabies hopping around everywhere. Now that was always an interesting sight to see.
Both places we visited, Sydney and Cairns were beautiful. Car rides at time became very quiet because everyone was gazing at the scenery around us. There were always pit stops to capture the beautiful mountains, beaches, and rainforests with our cameras. The food was not much different than United States. If you like pizza, seafood, pasta, or sandwiches you are in the clear because that is just about all they serve. The people are extremely laid back and I only received positive good vibes from them all. The weather like I said in Cairns was very humid and hot being so close to the equator. The weather in Sydney was not much different, just less humid. There is no way I can explain the beauty of this country through words, because that would not do it justice. I visited so many places in Australia and did so many things. One day I would be hiking the Blue Mountains and the next I would be rafting my way down the Tully River in the middle of a rainforest.
Before I came to Australia I had only one fear, not the killer jellyfish, huge spiders and snakes, but I was afraid I was going to fall in love with the country and never want to come home. Sure enough, it happened. Australia is the home to so many beautiful and interesting animals, people, and remarkable sites. If I am ever given the opportunity or chance to return, I will be on the next flight there. My heart is set on returning the Land Down Under.