In this week's post, Martyn highlights the CAPA trip to the Blue Mountains and Featherdale Wildlife park, discussing how important it is to immerse yourself in the natural environment of a place like Australia when you're abroad to fully understand the culture.
For this week’s blog post I wanted to talk about a CAPA sponsored trip that I went on this weekend to Featherdale Wildlife Park and the Blue Mountains. This was a trip that I was particularly excited for because as I mentioned in my introduction and first blog posts (which I’m sure you all read numerous times by now) hiking remains one of my favorite activities to do in my free time. It’s an incredibly therapeutic and relaxing experience for me and a good walk is more than enough to turn a bad day into a good one for me. Granted hiking with me involves seven near death slips, six actual slips and a ballpark estimate of close to five thousand stops for water but that’s beside the point (and myself).
No words, you just have to take in the sights
Blue Mountains is a place of well documented beauty and incredible hiking experiences. I’ve done my best to include some pictures that capture how beautiful Blue Mountains are, but I need to include a cliché disclaimer that “these pictures don't do this view justice”. The Blue Mountains are one of Sydney’s well-known mountain ranges and house such famous sights as the “Three Sisters” rock formation. Blue Mountains ranks 11,400 sq km in size which is huge considering that small European countries like Luxembourg are only 2590 sq km. If you want to know more about the Blue Mountains or want some more facts I’d recommend that you finish this article and then go on over to this website, which should provide you with all of the information that I personally cannot provide.
Seriously I didn’t prep any words to prepare for these views
I’m not Robert Frost, I can’t denote some historic emotional meaning to a hiking path, but I will say that being ingrained in a culture is as much about being in a different environment in terms of nature as it is experiencing a new culture by gouging on excess amounts of their food. Visiting a country means visiting the whole country, every aspect that goes into the culture you get to experience daily. Nature and the environment have a an obviously profound impact on how civilizations and culture grow and change. Understanding that and taking in the natural environment around you will tell you about a culture and a people that might have otherwise gone unsaid simply because of how commonplace or ingrained in them it is already.
I have nothing, stop looking at these captions and look at the pictures
Now, what I was less excited about for this trip was the Featherdale Wildlife Park portion. To be completely honest I didn’t really register that we were going until the day of. In all of the prior emails and postings (which CAPA is great at updating, btw) about the trip, I just saw Blue Mountains and sort of tuned anything else out, it wasn’t the smartest thing to do but it was a move of passion and you know what? There are numerous Movies and 80’s disco hits that say my reckless actions are A-OK Acceptable.
Grass in the mouth and not a care in the world for this Wallaby, serious Reasonable Doubt vibes
I want to preface this by saying that I adore animals, I adore the people who care for animals, I adore an animal’s habitat and I adore looking at animals. However, one thing that I do not enjoy, one thing that I’m not particularly fond, is touching animals. I have no idea what it is that sets me off but I have never been down to just reach out and feel another animal’s fur. I think deep down I know that realistically, I could never take any animal in a fight (nor would I want to, for that matter) and for that reason alone I am uneasily defensive whenever one is close to me without a cage. That being said, I was happy to see many of Australia’s native animal life. Seeing a quokka in real life was something I always wanted to do and helped me handle the disappointment that there were no Tasmanian Devils at the sanctuary yet.
Little Penguins are native to Australia and the smallest breed of penguins.
For those that want to experience a capsule of Australian fauna, Featherdale is definitely a place to look into. The park lets some of its residents roam free and greet guests (which I stayed far away from) and allows for paid close encounters with other shyer animals such as Koalas. I had a little awkward moment happen with a marsupial when I finally saw a kangaroo up close and realized that while it took me close to two and a half months to see one in person, it only took me one week abroad to eat kangaroo meat.
I couldn’t find a logical place to talk about this sign in the actual blog post but I figured it was important to give credit where credit was due.
Also, if you ever want to see the closest thing to a Velociraptor they have many Cassowary’s at the sanctuary which were thankfully locked behind cages. I’m not going include a picture of these monstrosities simply because I didn’t want to take a picture of the most terrifying living organism that I’ve seen so far alive.
All in all it was an incredible trip full of sights I'll never forget (for better or for worse) and I’m endlessly thankful for CAPA setting up such an opportunity.
Martyn Megaloudis is an official CAPA blogger for fall 2018, sharing his story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A Marketing major at the University of Pittsburgh, he is studying abroad in Sydney this semester.
Martyn's journey continues every Wednesday so stay tuned.