Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Guest post: Outback Adventure in Australia

Each summer Girl Scouts from our Council embark on destinations trips all over the world. These trip opportunities are open to any Girl Scouts age 11-17. Over the next few weeks as we wrap-up our summer travel guest blog series, Girl Scouts who went on a destination trip this summer will share their travel experiences.

My fellow destinations companions and I visited the
Sydney Opera House shortly after arriving.
By Madeleine H.
Ambassador Girl Scout

Whether it’s hearing the plane engine's roar that marks the start of a new adventure or the first steps on unfamiliar land where your identity is not known, destinations definitely gives you the thrilling experience of other cultures, dialects and surroundings. It is more than the itinerary in that it is a journey of discovery. It includes new animals, new friends and new ideas while discovering who you are and what you are capability of accomplishing.

My excitement was barely containable as I took my first achy steps in Australia (achy only because I didn’t stand during the 14-hour plane ride...). Our first stop was the famous city of Sydney. The animation in the movie, Finding Nemo, doesn’t do the amazing Sydney Opera House justice! The gleaming tiles on the roof and spectacular architecture were definitely sights to see. Our walking tour of Sydney included historical sites where convicts were kept, a harbor cruise exploring the waterfronts and harbor bridge, the botanical gardens and the art museum of New South Wales.

We flew north to Cairns for the remainder of the trip and learned so much about Aboriginal culture while we hunted with spears in the ocean for crabs, then climbed over mangroves in the mud to find mussels and periwinkle which we cooked for an afternoon snack. We also carved our own didgeridoos and learned how to play that interesting instrument. The Aboriginals we stayed with also taught us how to throw boomerangs (which do actually return to you!). We also experienced nature by camping many nights in tents while listening to the creek and waterfalls. My favorite waterfall was the eight-degree Celsius (that’s 46 degrees Fahrenheit) Milla Milla Falls in which we swam and froze!

We got to meet Girl Guides from Australia - they loved
our patches and sashes!
We explored Granite Gorge and found Wallaby Rock where we fed the wallabies. Our feeding continued at a wildlife sanctuary for sick and injured animals where they had all types of creatures including koalas, kangaroos and more wallabies. We also completed a service project there by cleaning out a plant nursery and pulling up dead trees. We also went into the kangaroos’ habitat and replaced and relocated some rocks to outline the stream.

We jungle-surfed through the rainforest and went on a challenge hike up Kalphalim Rock. Believe me, it was a challenging nine-mile round trip and took us about seven hours. The view at the top was definitely worth the trek as we looked over the valley below.

We ended our trip with a phenomenal trip to the Great Barrier Reef. Nothing could be more perfect than seeing whales splashing around, and snorkeling to see blue sea stars, sea cucumbers, squid, clams, sea turtles and a zillion colorful fish. Our final night included bowling with local Girl Guides who were so impressed with our Girl Scout sashes and patches. It was funny as they asked me, “Is it true that Texas is like the movies where there’s just tumbleweed blowing around?” And they also picked up on my “y'all” in our conversation!  We were all amazed as the 10 days flew by and Friday came, the day to fly home.

Exploring the wonders of Australia was amazing and I made lifelong friendships that I will cherish. I learned so much through the activities we did and about other people. This destination also included rich cultural experiences as we got a taste of the Aboriginal culture and the life of an Aussie. This trip was surely a one-of-a-kind experience, and I look forward to traveling somewhere else again next summer!

Madeleine H. is an Ambassador Girl Scout in GSSJC. She has taken four previous destinations trips where she has met Girl Scouts from 28 different states.

For more information on destinations, contact Rebecca Tirrell at 713-292-0353 or