|Quote of the Weekend: "Where ARE we?!"|
After the Wisdom Mass at Santa Sabina on Thursday, Sim brought me and Joe to Sydney International Airport, where we boarded our flight to Cairns, Queensland! After catching a bus to our hostel, we unpacked and enjoyed a hearty backpackers meal (does the sarcasm translate well here?), met our German (?) roommates and spent the night playing cards, eating cookies, and listening to music – just like many nights and weekends with our friends at PC.
|Yes you are seeing this right - keep reading!|
On Friday we woke up bright and early, enjoyed a brekky of apples, peanut butter and coffee, and met the Uncle Brian’s Waterfalls and Rainforest bus on the curbside of our hostel – What. A. Day. Our tour guide's name was "Cuz Rohan," an enthusiastic and hilarious bloke who took us through the mountains and forest, cracking heaps of hilarious jokes and providing the history of everything along the way. Our first stop for the day was to the "Devil’s Pools," named for the dangerous nature of the rapids along the creek. After doing some exploring on the trails, we enjoyed some morning tea before taking a dip in a "refreshing" (Cuz's vocabulary suggestion to substitute "cold") nearby pond.
|I promise this isn't photoshopped!|
After warming up in the sun we drove to our second destination, Josephine Falls, where we experienced an incredible waterfall and the most amazing natural water slide! We all took turns sliding down the rocks, and Cuz even took a bunch of pictures on his waterproof camera for us. And although the water was nearly freezing, Cuz reminded us, “This is WINTER in far-north Queensland!” Good perspective.
|Beats summers waiting for the slide at the town pool.|
From there we drove a long while to lunch, but enjoyed some fun bus games along the way, including the super awkward game of matchsticks (which, funnily enough, was exactly how Joe and I met... just replace the matchsticks and lifesavers with passing an orange from my neck to his). But Cuz rewarded us with some chocolate, which made the whole event pretty forgivable. We stopped at a cute roadside café for lunch that overlooked the incredible Atherton Tablelands, and I was reminded of the road trip I took with my family two summers ago along Skyline Drive!
|Did you ever imagine Australia looked like this?|
Completely dry and warm with full bellies, we made our way to the famous Milla Milla Falls and experienced the most incredible waterfall I've ever witnessed – it was like something out of the movies! We braved the frigid water and took lots of funny pictures in front of the falls, before heading off for our last swim in a crater lake! The water was nice and warm here, and we even experienced some not-totally-allowed-by-park-rangers fun by taking turns jumping out of a gum tree into the lake! Rebellious.
|On the set of Lost... just kidding! I think...|
After changing into dry clothes, we headed off to a nearby creek and enjoyed some afternoon tea, even spotting a cute little platypus! As the sun set, we packed up our things and began the journey back to Cairns - but not without some epic dancing and singing the entire way. We even sang along and made up a dance to "Hey Baby," the McPhail's (PC's on-campus bar) last call song! Look at that - PC in Australia. It was an incredible day of experiencing the truly beautiful world we live in - both the nature and the people.
|I feel like my life has become a postcard... no complaints.|
While Friday's activities set the bar high, Saturday was just as enjoyable! After another modest brekky, Joe and I enjoyed a sunny walk to the docks where we hopped a boat to The Great Barrier Reef! (What is our life?!) We enjoyed a day of snorkeling and experienced some of the most incredible colors and fish I have ever seen! I couldn't find Nemo or Marlin anywhere, but I think I spotted a Dory! We even saw an eel/snake-like creature, which gave us the heebie-geebies.
|Hmmm, are we sure this isn't Lost? It IS the South Pacific.|
It was a very relaxing day at the beach that provided quite the sunburn, but to say it was worth it would be quite the understatement. We ferried back to the mainland and enjoyed a walk around the waterfront, which is apparently infested with crocodiles. We capped the night off with another hearty backpackers meal and some good ol' rugby (The Wallabies won it again). It was another fabulous day with an even more fabulous friend!
On Sunday we checked out and proceed to backpack our way 20 Kilometers across town, in search of a church. Upon arriving at one too late and another that didn’t even offer a Sunday Mass, we collapsed in a heap at a nearby park. But that didn't get us down - we refueled with some PowerAde, found some shade and caught up on some leisurely reading instead! We eventually grabbed some lunch and continued our day of reading, warm weather and good friendship. And as the sun began to set, we said goodbye to paradise and caught our flight back to Sydney.
|The Australian mainland has become our homeland.|
Cairns was the perfect holiday - arriving at the exact halfway mark of our trip, it was the ideal opportunity to reflect on everything we had experienced to that point, to take a short break and refuel, and mentally prepare for the three weeks to come. The greatest lesson I learned while in Cairns came from good ol' Cuz Rohan on Friday, when he played Van Morrisen's "Bright Side of the Road" for us in the tour bus. The lyrics read, "Into this life we're born, Baby sometimes, sometimes we don't know why, And time seems to go by so fast, In the twinkling of an eye, Let's enjoy it while we can, Won't you help me sing my song, From the dark end of the street, To the bright side of the road." I realized that much of our happiness in this life will come from seeing the good in the little things. Of course, I experienced much joy in witnessing The Great Barrier Reef and in hiking through the world's oldest rain forest. But it was also the smaller, seemingly insignificant moments during the weekend - reading in the park, playing cards in the common kitchen room, walking 20K in search of a church - these were the moments that no one could recommend in any tourist magazine, that no one could predict. And seeing life from the bright side of the road means seeing these little moments as little blessings, not as blips. And when I look back on my excursion to the Gold Coast 20 years from now, my memory of the colors of the fish at the reef or the temperature of the water in the rain forest may fade. But that feeling of content, of being in the presence of a true friend and a loving God, will remain steadfast and certain forever.