“Australia is a beautiful country and we only got to see a small chunk of it. We went in their winter season, so their climate was just perfect. Most days we would be waking up at a brisk 15C (59F) and then it would warm up to a nice 28C (83F) by the afternoon. We could (and did) walk for miles and barely break a sweat. In Florida, I can barely step outside without having a mini heat stroke. The terrain is beautiful as well with beautiful backdrops lined with gorgeous mountains and rain forests. The culture seems very laid back compared to what I am used to back at home. The food I tried was delicious in most places and we quickly learned that Asian food and ice cream are very popular there!
Getting to Australia and back home were the roughest parts but not horrible either. With layovers and such, our way there was 27 hours and our way back was 29 hours of time travel. Australia’s timezone is 14 hours ahead of ours so going there, we lost an entire day and coming back we lived Saturday twice. The Qantas airline was the best flying experience I have had with delicious Australian made snacks and meals, a free concession stand, blanket, pillow, headphones and lots of entertainment options. I have never watched so many movies back to back (but I had 16 hours to do so).
We were a group of ten plus our instructor so for our time with Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre, we were split into Team A and Team B. Therefore, only five of us could volunteer at the center in Fitzroy Island at a time. Each team was able to go to Fitzroy Island and the rehab center on Tingera St three times. Fitzroy Island is a bigger and nicer set up with more volunteers and public daily tours. Tingera St. is a smaller set up with a few select volunteers that care for the ones in isolation and new rescued sea turtles until they are able to be examined by a veterinarian and/or transferred to Fitzroy Island. Most of our activities (at both locations) revolved around skimming tanks, syphoning tanks, cutting up feed (squid, prawns and fish) and cleaning filter bags.
Aside from Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre, we had a great time exploring Cairns and its surroundings. We took a day trip out to the Great Barrier Reef through Sunlovers Cruises and got to see wild sea turtles, whales and so many beautifully colored fish. Another day, we went out to the Atherton Tablelands with Barefoot Tours and our favorite tour guide “Uncle Brucey” who gave us an entertaining trip full of history, singing, laughs, hikes and waterfalls. Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre were able to get us a discount with Koala Gardens and Birdworld in Kuranda as well as a free tour of the Cairns Aquarium. Just walking through Cairns, we were able to experience flocks of lorikeets, marked lapwings and at the island we would hike along paths with sulphur crested cockatoos, skinks and goannas.
In summary, Australia was an amazing bucket list experience! I was able to travel across the country with fellow technicians and see different species and cultures. We were able to help with not only the turtles, but the dedicated volunteers get projects and tasks accomplished to help the turtles in a more efficient way.”- Cecilia Nieves, SPC Student, Australia Vet Summer 2018
Thank you for sharing Cecilia!
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