So as I guess is the case for many people studying abroad, I turn 21 out here in Australia. Although my birthday is not until Sunday, I had a joint celebration with another exchange student last weekend. It was a great night starting with a classy drinks party at mine and then heading out. While it is strange not being home for my birthday it has made me appreciate my friends out here and shown me yet again that your friends can be your family. I have also received a few gifts in the mail and am being good and not opening them until Sunday!
I went to my first friends leaving party at the weekend also which was a strange night. I couldn’t believe that was it, the first person has gone! Someone I have known for a year and has been there on nights out and some day trips and suddenly no more. As the next few weeks go I am sure this will become common place but on a happier note to this my house-mates and I have made sort of ‘bucket list’ of things we keep meaning to do but never quite getting round to. Luckily we don’t have to spend too much of our last weeks here working because most of our courses don’t have exams and coursework is already complete which leaves plenty of time for adventures.
Over the year we have managed to do most of the great sights of Australia from Melbourne to Sydney to the Great Barrier Reef and many points in between (I never did make it to NZ but I am sure I can do that on a separate trip some other time!). We have also been pretty good at seeing South Australia and I personally have taken great advantage of the many wine tours on offer – Adelaide is Wine Country for those who don’t know; although the smaller cellar doors are probably the best quality, I also visited Jacobs Creek. All those years of seeing it sponsor friends I was intrigued by the company (and me and mum thought the wine was rather good too!). That was a great day where you could go onto the vineyards and learn about the process of it being it made as well as being guided through a structured tasting.
I also made it to the Flinders Ranges which is in north of SA and is the beginning of the outback. The only town in driving distance has a population of just a few hundred and has just one cafe which we went to everyday. There really is nothing out there and you can drive all day and only see a couple other cars, although the lack of people is made up for by the number of kangaroos about – cute during the day and lethal at night. We almost drove straight into one on our way back from dinner but luckily saw just in time! Flinders is a national park popular with everyone from young families to extreme hikers and I guess we were somewhere in between. The weather was fabulous which made for a great (if slightly hot) hike up the hill to see into the crater like landscape.
But anyway back to the bucket list. Iz leaves next week which is finally making us do activities, most of which are very local such as trying out this cafe we keep meaning to go to and watching a few last Australian films – we have gotten pretty into their film industry while here and have seen a few locally based movies (I would recommend Wolf Creek to those of you intrigued by the outback but maybe don’t do it the week before you are going in real life like we did – it got pretty scary at nights! We also want to go and get pictures cuddling koalas. I have seen plenty of koalas both in nature and in zoos but don’t yet have that iconic cuddling photo that I feel I need to have. I think we might also try to do a tour of the local brewery which makes the beer many of us have taken a likening to over the year – Coopers! Other than that we will just be packing and studying I guess.
PS I forgot to add a photo of the aussie footy to my last post so here it is!