Today, UChicago Softball took on the Outback! With a 6 AM wake-up call, we made our way down to breakfast in the hotel a bit before sunrise. After inhaling hash browns, toast, eggs, and Australia's version of coco pebbles, we gathered up our things and waited outside for our two four-wheel drive vans to scoop us up and take us exploring for the day.
Our first stop was the Mareeba Wetlands where we stopped for some morning tea and learned about the lagoons in the area. We took a short eco-friendly boat ride around the lagoon and managed to spot a couple little critters beneath the surface. When we first got to the property, five friendly emus were grazing and let us pose for photos. It was all fun and games until the emus began to play chase, and we were the targets.
Part two of the day included a scenic drive through the back blocks of the wetland area. We spotted wallabies, more emus and even a giant eagle. We also learned about aboriginal culture in the area and how they work to preserve the land.
Lucky us, we stopped for a traditional pub lunch before setting off on our National Parks cave tour. Pub lunch consisted of steak, sausage, and grilled onions with a salad bar too. The food was great but the hospitality made the meal! Aussies are very attentive :)
Our cave tours were definitely the highlight of our Outback adventure. We visited two caves and saw the fossilized remains of the ancient coral reefs with hidden limestone labyrinths creating incredible underground worlds. We studied stalagmites and stalactites and learned about the bats and other wildlife living meters underground. In our second cave, we stumbled upon a giant spider with only one eye, diligently waiting for his lunch to crawl by. It was time for us to go...
Our tour guide, Eddie, was from an aboriginal tribe nearby. He shared stories with us from his childhood and gave a little insight into the life of his indigenous people. Eddie was trying to get more people from his tribe to work as guides in the national parks.
We made it back to Cairns in time for dinner, all tired from our long day of exploring. Now, we have to get a good night's rest for tomorrow's Great Barrier Reef adventure!
Having a great time in Australia!
- Alexa Hanelin and Serena Moss