Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” -J.R.R Tolkien

Last week was my mid semester break and it was fantastic! I had been planning it with my friends for months and it was wonderful to finally experience everything. We are the type of people who try to do as much as possible in the time allotted so we scheduled something for every day.

Our trip was broken up into two parts: the first few days were spent in Cairns/Port Douglas and the remainder of the trip was spent in Brisbane. Both are in Queensland, the North Eastern part of Australia. It was quite a lovely to be in the warmer temperatures again in tropical Cairns. It has been getting chillier in Wollongong as it is autumn. Luckily the weather was beautiful for the entire trip!


The first day consisted of flying to Cairns, meeting up with more friends, catching a sunset over a lake, and checking into our accommodation. The second day was when the real fun began! The four of us went on an amazing tour with Backcountry Bliss where we traveled around the Port Douglass area. It was not tourist season so it was just the four of us and our engaging tour guide. We visited beaches and look out points but the main part of the tour was ‘jungle surfing’ or zip lining through the rainforest. It was an epic experience; I relied on a few ropes to hold me as I slid off the platforms and flew through the tree tops! At one point I flew down upside down which was mindboggling! At the end of the day we went to an unbelievably beautiful river and had a quick swim. It was one of my favorite days since I saw Australia’s beauty, learned a lot from our knowledgeable tour guide, and tried lots of new things.

Backcountry Bliss Zipline

 The following day was just as amazing, we went snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef! The water was clear and a distinctive blue. The texture, colors, and patterns of the coral were phenomenal while various fish swam right next to you.  I saw a giant clam, clown fish, squid, and a sea turtle! And sunbathing on the deck of the boat was not a bad way to end the day either.

Turtle Reef

 We spent two more days in Cairns. We explored the area, visited shops, and museums. The last day we went on another tour of the area. We saw a waterfall, an enormous fig tree, and the ruins of a Spanish castle. It was really interesting going around the castle learning what the rooms were used for and the quirks of the creator!

Waterfall Paronella Park

 The rest of the break was spent in artsy city of Brisbane. We were unaware of the fact that we were there for the Australian holiday ANZAC day which commemorates the fallen soldiers. Many of the historic museums we wanted to visit were closed but on the flip side we caught a parade filled with veterans and Australians showing their patriotic side! The following day we went to a Koala Sanctuary and wildlife park. I saw my favorite animal the platypus so my day was made right then and there! There was no way to get a picture, he was swimming too fast! I will admit, the koalas and other animals were pretty cool too. The remainder of our time spent in Brisbane was filled with checking out various museums, the botanic gardens, and the mall.

ANZAC parade Brisbane Koala Sanctuary

 On Sunday we returned to Wollongong after and incredible break. It was nice seeing everyone again and hearing about their adventures. A group of students went to the Gold Coast and relaxed on the beach whereas another group flew to New Zealand and traveled around the country in a camper van. We were provided the time but it was up to us what to choose to do with it!


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