Feeling Grateful After a Visit to Australia's Royal National Park

Jul 20, 2019 10:05:00 AM / by Anderson Wray

This week, Anderson comes to grips with his time in Sydney and all the opportunities he's had while studying abroad. Based on a suggestion by his supervisor, he visits the Royal National Park in Australia and walks on a breathtaking coastal trail while appreciating the simple things in life. Anderson also muses on the history of the country and finds a link to the country's past through art.

Lately I’ve been struggling with coming to grips with the fact that my time in Sydney is dwindling. It feels like just yesterday I arrived, unsure what the next six weeks held for me, but looking forward to the opportunities before me.

That being said, I want to make the most of my remaining time here. I asked my supervisor at BIS what I need to do before I leave, and he told me I have no excuse to not visit the Royal National Park. All it takes to get there is a train ride down the South Coast Line to the Otford Station, a simple 90-minute ride.

Royal National Park Coastal TrailMy first look at the coast was overcast and gloomy, yet still a sight to see.

So I did, and I must say it lived up to the hype. Walking along the coastal trail was the most therapeutic experience I’ve had in recent memory. Constantly serving as a reminder of the many blessings I have was a matter of feet from the edge of a seemingly endless cliff leading right down to the Pacific. How lucky are we that others blazed that trail so we can walk safely? The simple things of life should not be taken for granted—things change quickly, and we often don’t realize how good we have it until life takes a turn for the worse.

Royal National ParkTwo hours later, the Australian weather served as a great example of never-ending change, sometimes for the better.

I left the Royal National Park with more to think about, namely a fascination with Australia’s discovery. Someone was the first to document their steps through the various biomes across the nation. Compared to the rest of the world, its exploration picked up momentum happened recently, just approximately 200 years ago—only five generations removed.

I figured the best place to find a link to the past was the Art Gallery of New South Wales. I was not disappointed. Openly displayed for free was a gallery of Australian artwork from the 18th and 19th century, heavily documenting the unkempt environment the first settlers experienced. It never fails to amaze me how much time, effort, and manpower went into crafting the world we live in. The notion of just showing up to an unknown, unmapped land mass and starting from scratch is bewildering.

StormPeople really encountered conditions like this…and made it work.

When I was younger, the last thing I ever wanted to do was go to an art museum. Last weekend, I couldn’t get enough of Art Gallery NSW’s displays. Their collections struck me in a reflective way. I could see the same scenes being painted in today’s Australia. I never stop and think about how fortunate I am that others went off and risked their lives just to find out more about this mysterious new frontier. Today I can just walk through a nature trail—how could I have ever hope for such an experience if no one had before?

PiguenitAustralia was hardly forgiving to those arriving years ago.

As my time here comes to a close, I can’t help but feel wistful. I am going to miss Sydney—but that is only because I have been blessed with such a great time. Life was nowhere near as enjoyable for visitors 150 years ago. I just need to remind myself how fortunate I am to have this experience.

Thanks, Anderson!

Anderson Wray

Anderson Wray is an official CAPA blogger for summer 2019, sharing his story in weekly posts on CAPA World. An Accountancy major at Arizona State University, he is studying abroad in Sydney this semester.

Anderson's journey continues all semester so stay tuned.

Learn More about the CAPA Sydney Program

Topics: Sydney, Australia, Why Study Abroad