Ups, Downs, and Adventures Galore

Sammy Kessler James Cook University, Australia


April 21, 2015

Recap on the Past Month

Since my last posts, so much has happened. I’m thoroughly enjoying my time here and halfway through the semester. With mid-semester break about to start, I’ve got some crazy-exciting trips coming up SO SOON. But first, I will recap the major highlights:


I’ll start with the low so I can end with the high note. The weekend of March 27-29 started off great. On Friday my friends and I went to The Strand (gorgeous beach downtown strip of Townsville) and then we hiked Castle Hill for sunset. It was quite the trek! And we just barely made it for the sunset. But the views were absolutely incredible, watching the sky go from beautiful oranges, pinks, purples, and blues to a deep, dark sky full of twinkles from both the stars and the Townsville City lights. Truly incredible.

On Saturday the 29th, Townsville City Council was holding a “swim-in” evening movie showing at the Riverway Lagoon (a public and free infinity pool right by the Ross River – gorgeous and fun to visit and swim!). This night’s movie was in honor of the Earth Hour, and was followed by a BBC Earth Hour film. Townsville City Council was hosting a number of events that weekend in honor of Earth Hour. The movie was one of my favorites – The Lorax. However, a great night quickly turned bad when I got out of the pool to go to the bathroom, and stopped to check my phone in my bag when…my bag was gone. Panic ensued, as my bag had been in a pile UNDER all of my friends’ belongings, but it was nowhere to be found. Quickly the lifeguards and security were on board with the matter, and we spent the rest of the evening trying to use the “Track my iPhone” app to figure out where my belongings had been taken. However, long story short, nothing was found that night, and I lost A LOT of valuable and important things. I made the foolish mistake that night of grabbing the wrong bag on my way out, one that I never use, and it, of course, even had my passport in it.

After a few days, most of my belongings (including passport and IDs) had turned up, and the things that didn’t were easily replaced. This mishap taught me quite a few lessons:

  1. Don’t ever trust leaving your stuff anywhere, even if it's a “family-friendly” place where everyone’s stuff is left out on picnic tables seems safe.
  2. Don’t ever foolishly bring valuables out that you won’t have on you at all times (like a GoPro camera).
  4. Most importantly, have a little faith in the world. You could call it good karma, or just good luck, but somehow what could have been quite catastrophic ended up with a very uplifting outcome, with almost all of my belongings being found and turned in. It was quite a scare, and certainly taught me a lot, but boy am I thankful for the outcome. (I would have had to fly to the US Embassy in either Sydney or Canberra THAT WEEK to replace the passport in time for my trip to New Zealand.)

Moving On

Other highlights of my time have been my Easter weekend trip. After a week of frantically putting my life back together, I luckily still got to go on my planned overnight trip to Magnetic Island for the first part of the Easter long weekend. Two friends and I got there as early as possible on Friday, explored the island by hiking the Forts Walk and venturing to Horseshoe Bay. On the Forts Walk, we saw wild koalas, incredible views, historic forts, and more absolutely stunning views. Plus, some more awesome views. (Get the point?) We camped at a hostel directly on Nelly Bay, enjoyed the night scene there before going to bed thoroughly exhausted in our tents. We woke up and stepped directly out of our tents and onto the beach for sunrise, where we watched whipping winds and an exciting storm approach, before we headed home. It was a great start to the long weekend, which brought lots of homework for the remainder.

Billabong Sanctuary

I must quickly re-cap on what has become of my favorite places ever – Billabong Sanctuary, the Australian native wildlife interactive experience zoo. I’m a volunteer there, and I spend a full day once a week helping the rangers in zoo-keeping duties as well as animal handling for public shows. I have quickly gotten to know all of the amazing animals (and staff) and leave the sanctuary each week astounded by what an awesome day I had – from getting to play with and walk dingoes, to holding Tonka the friendly wombat, to talking to cockatoos, petting the free-roaming kangaroos, allowing visitors to interact with animals, and so much more – all of the heavy raking and dirty work is SO worth it.

What’s Next

Now, 4 days stand between a trip to New Zealand and me for the first half of mid-semester break. I’m going to the South Island with a friend, road tripping to a few destinations for a total of 4 days, and we’re white water rafting! I cannot wait. The day after I get back, I will be leaving again for a 4-day field trip for my Wildlife Ecology and Management class, where I will be heading to Wambiana Cattle Station. There, we will be handling wildlife by safe trapping methods in various sites, for an overall research aim question of how cattle grazing affects biodiversity. It will also be filled with some outdoorsy excitement, stargazing, and campfires. Then, in the month of May, stay tuned for all of the fun trips I have going on!

School has picked up, and vet school applications open soon! So on top of all this fun, I’ve been making sure to do my best at staying on top of academics, as well. So far so good.