Update: It’s been a while since I’ve sent in an article about my travels while studying at Athabasca U. I’ve had a chance to travel lots more since then. With so much going on it became difficult to write. But I’ve taken an interesting path and have had a chance to serve on AU student council and am now working in the online education industry at a virtual high school. I hope to contribute more to The Voice in the coming months. Now back to the story:
My name is Philip Kirkbride. I’m a college graduate from Ontario with a bachelor’s degree from AU. I’ve always wanted to do an exchange program or study abroad but never found the right time to do so. This is the story of how Athabasca University has allowed me to create my own study abroad program. In the last instalment, we were driving up the east coast of Australia and stopped in the beach town Byron Bay for a night at the bar.
Despite being hungover, getting up the morning after our night out in Byron Bay was relatively easy. Partly because we got out of the RV to see the shining sun reflecting on the beach water. As usual, Dylan woke up and walked around the beach taking photos with his 1980’s camera. It was early but surfers were out, kids were going for a swim, and even a parasailer was on the water.
We drove up a large hill (small mountain) to the Cape Byron Lighthouse at the top. After finding a spot with free parking (not an easy task) we parked and prepared the RV’s kitchen to cook breakfast in the scenic spot.
Dylan fried up some eggs and vegetables for an omelet sandwich and we ate, standing, with our plates resting on the railing at the side of the hill overlooking the water. Despite the looming deadline of having to return the RV in Cairns, we managed to forget our worries, enjoy our breakfast, and wander up the hill to the lighthouse. We even saw a strange lizard?like nothing I’d seen before?but despite looking hideously dangerous Dylan assured me it was mostly harmless.
After an hour at the lighthouse we returned to the RV for a very long day of driving. The views were stunning but the ride was an exhausting 10 hours. We drove north along Australia’s East coast; there is definitely a gradual, but sometimes dramatic, change in the landscape you see as you travel this route. Between Byron Bay and Cairns the change is one of the landscape becoming more tropical.
While it was difficult to read or write anything for my classes as we drove up the coast I was able to find some relevant audiobooks that I hoped to cite for a class. The hard part is getting the hang of making audio bookmarks so you can get back to the part you need later on. It also helped to pass the long hours on the road so it ended up being a great strategy to do some light research for an essay.
After 8-10 hours on the road we reached our final spot. It was a place called Millaa Millaa Falls, just outside Cairns. The day had been long, with lots of hours on the road. So long, that when we got to our final RV camp-site for the trip it was completely dark outside. While it was a great place for photos, a bbq, or going for a swim, don’t expect any lighting if you show up at midnight. Technically parking and sleeping in your RV at Millaa Millaa falls is not encouraged. Our plan was to get up early and act like early morning tourists when the park ranger came around. But as we fell asleep we had no idea whether or not we’d get a knock on our window.