Monday, July 01, 2013

Travel: Day 7 - Australia - Trails and Tribulations

One of the advantages of teaching at a small liberal arts institution is the freedom to design and offer courses that are close to one's heart. 

In January 2011, I taught Tropical Ecology  and, for one of the class activities, I took a group of students on a 10 day trip to Puerto Rico. (Click here to read about the trip to Puerto Rico). 

In January 2013, I taught Ecology of Australia and, naturally, it entailed a field trip to Australia! What follows is a travelogue of our adventures together, the sights we saw, the things we did, and the lessons we learned while exploring a land far removed from home.

(You can the previous posts in this thread here).

Apart from being a campus offering on-site classes, James Cook University has numerous satellite locations where research opportunities abound.  One of them is the Daintree Rainforest Observatory, managed by Site Manager Peter Byrnes.

About 140km (~ 90miles) north of Cairns, the Observatory is in a section of protected rainforest adjacent to the Daintree National Park. The Daintree rainforest lays claim to having the highest biodiversity of plant and animal species anywhere in Australia. The site is flanked to the west by coastal ranges rising to more than 1400m and by the Coral Sea to the east.  The proximity of the coral reef to a rainforest makes it a fairly unique situation.

We took the Captain Cook Highway out of Cairns, heading north in a van.This winding ocean road is as you would expect it to be - the treeline frequently opens up to reveal great vistas and lookouts along the way

(Victoria Vollmer 2013)
 The drive is littered with small beaches that were inviting us to stop but had to be saved for some other (undecided) date in the future.

(Sandra 2013)
(Note: In order to conserve space on the blog and make it easier to scroll through, I am condensing how much of  the post is displayed.  To read the rest of it, simply click on the "Click here for the rest of my jaywalk" link below).