Ithaca College Quarterly 2004/2
Semester Down Under


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Navigating by committee in the mountains of Tasmania

Flipping Johnny Cakes at Mutawintji

Viewing ancient Aboriginal rock art

Sean and a Magnificent Creature

Aussie note #2: Fremantle has a team in the Aussie Rules Football League; the flamboyantly dressed Dockers are one of the best in the league. Aussie Rules "footie" is a combination of soccer, rugby, and American football . . . sort of. There's a lot of running, a lot of kicking, a lot of tackling and hitting -- and no pads. Just take that ball and run amok with it, mate. It's "keep-away" with goals, big-money contracts, and advertising deals.

Aussie note #3: If you don't like the weather in Tasmania, just wait 15 minutes. Residents of Hobart are proud to claim that their city has four seasons in one day.

Two school field trips combined for more than a week of camping in the outback of the southwestern corner of the continent. Perth is the most isolated capital city in the world, so we didn't have to go far to escape the loom of its bright lights and see the Milky Way in the night sky, more brilliant than we could ever see anywhere in the States.

The month passed quickly, and soon we were moving out of our beautiful houses and climbing back on the plane. We were flying east and south to Hobart, Tasmania. We'd been told by the locals in Fremantle that, if Perth was San Diego, then Hobart was "Seattle with a little bit of inbreeding." Still, we kept an open mind -- and were pleasantly surprised.

In Tasmania we were slated to study environmental science. Lorne Kriwoken, our professor and mentor, met us the first full day we were in Hobart, and from that time on we all knew that our trip had just gotten better. Lorne, who hails from western Canada and is a 12-time veteran visitor to Antarctica, was one of the most exciting and interesting people we met during our stay in Australia. His enthusiasm for the course material and eagerness for us to get out and explore the land had us hiking up mountains and sleeping in huts. A couple of excursions with Lorne ("Dr. Lorne's Adventure Tours") and even more on our own proved to us that tiny Tasmania holds some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world.

"Dr. Lorne" explains the tesselated pavement along the Tasmanian coast.

Going off the marked trails, climbing on huge piles of boulders, warming ourselves around enormous bonfires, and clambering through wave-pounded blowholes, we had never a dull moment. "Academic" is one word that none of us would use to describe our time in Australia's island state. Don't worry, though, Mom, my one science class thus far in my Ithaca career was also one of my best!

Soon we were again saying good-bye to friends just met and packing up homes just moved into; a troubling pattern was developing. Due to the unorthodox nature of our classes, we weren't being exposed to very many other students at the schools we were attending. This, combined with the hectic process of moving in and settling down, meant we didn't really meet anybody or befriend anyone until perhaps the third week of our tenures in Fremantle and Hobart. We would finally start meeting new people and making friends, only to have to say farewell to them a few short weeks later. next

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