A Little Recap

Hello friends! In case you missed the latest weather report, Cyclone Debbie hit northern Queensland this past week. TC Debbie made landfall approximately 800 miles north of Brisbane in Airline Beach as a category 4 storm on March 28th. Although the storm weakened, ex-TC Debbie caused significant damage to South East Queensland and north New South Wales. On March 30th, I received a text alert warning of severe weather in Brisbane and a message from the UQ Chancellor cancelling all classes for the day. Given the distance from the origin of the storm and Brisbane, I foolishly thought the precautions were a little exaggerated. But boy, I WAS WRONG. From 6am to approximately 11pm, Brisbane was consumed by 9 inches of rain, flash floods, and destructive wind gusts up to 62 mph. Luckily, no significant damage was reported in Brisbane and March 31st brought a new, safer day. To say this was something I had never experienced before would be an understatement and it definitely adds to a long list of memories I will keep of my time abroad.

Mini Getaway

It is currently Week 5 at UQ, otherwise known as the week where classes start getting harder because you have (almost) reached the half way point in the semester. To get rid of stress, I took a one-day trip with friends from the UQ Latin American Society to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Fig Tree Pocket, Queensland. If you take the bus from UQ to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, the stop will leave you right in front of the entrance (the ride costs $1.28 and is approximately 43 minutes). At the entrance, I showed the clerk my UQ student ID to purchase an entry ticket at the student/concession price. A major note to anyone studying in Brisbane: you can receive a student discount on almost everything by showing your student ID – this applies to sporting events, theatres, museums, and amusement parks to name a few. Take advantage of this to save a few extra $ when exploring!

As I entered the park, I could not contain my excitement. At every corner, large enclosures contained heaps of Australia’s native marsupial: the koala! I had visited zoos before, but I had never seen a koala in real life, let alone one inches away from me. Most of the koalas were either fast asleep, eating eucalyptus leaves, or moving leisurely from branch to branch. A sign next to the enclosure read “Take a photo with a koala, today!” and I was more than ready for the opportunity as it was one of my biggest Australian dreams. While in line to purchase a voucher to take a picture with a koala, a kind local gave me a free pass (further convincing me that Australians are the kindest people on the planet).

After waiting for approximately 12 minutes in line, I got to hold my new best friend Guppy. The handler instructed me to cup my hands in front of me and remain still before casually placing Guppy on me. He felt soft, light, and had a distinct smell of mint (so strange, I know). Although the encounter lasted less than three minutes, it truly was one of the greatest moments of my life. Before moving on to the other animal enclosures, I collected my photo souvenir from the “Wall of Fame” among the likes of Nicki Minaj, Serena Williams, and President Ronald Reagan.

Next to the koala encounter was the Kangaroo Reserve – a large park filled with free-range kangaroos, wallabies, and ostriches. I purchase a small bag of kangaroo food for $2 from the convenience store and nervously entered the area. With each step, I noticed how massive the reserve was. Kangaroos were all over the field, either hopping freely from tree to tree or laying down, waiting for the next visitor to offer food or a nice rub. I anxiously approached a female kangaroo (noticing her enlarged pouch), stuck out a handful of food, and waited for her to react. As the kangaroo came to me and ate food from my hand, I turned to my friend with my jaw dropped. While I had seen kangaroos before in zoos, I had never been this close to one nor had I had the opportunity to feed one. The gums of the kangaroo (who I nicknamed Sophie) tickled my hand as she ate and I could not help but laugh uncontrollably. As Sophie ate, I extended my spare arm and brushed her fur (way smoother than I expected). One of the wildest things that happened while I fed Sophie was witnessing a kangaroo fight. Not only was seeing two male kangaroos stand up and position themselves like boxers utterly amazing, but I heard them bark. There is no exaggeration when I say these kangaroos barked exactly like dogs.

After running out of food to feed the kangaroos, the group explored the platypus, Tasmanian devil, and dingo exhibits. To end the night, the group opted to take advantage of the sanctuary’s free entertainment night. Finding Dory was shown on the picnic area and a food truck market was in full force in the parking lot. From German to Italian food, the options were endless. Although the trip lasted a few hours, I loved getting to check holding a koala and feeding a kangaroo off my bucket list!

The 411

Although it has been over a month since arriving in Australia, I am still getting used to the lingo. Here is your everyday guide into Australian slang:

Aboriginal = Indigineous people of Australia

Arvo = Afternoon

Bathers/Swimmers = Swimsuit

Cheers = Thanks/Goodluck

Course = Class

Exy = Expensive

Footy = Australian football game

G’Day = Hello

Good on ya = Well done

Heaps = A lot

How ya going? = How are you?

Hungry Jacks = Burger King

Keen = Interested

Lippie = Lipstick

Lollies = Candy

Macaas = McDonalds

Mate = Friend

Snag = Sausage

Thongs = Sandals

*Bonus: Tomato is pronounce to-mah-to rather than to-may-to.

Monica Martinez studied abroad in Brisbane, Australia in Spring 2017: