Sunday, August 25, 2013

Quad Bike Adventures - Stockton Beach & Sand Dunes

Yesterday we went to Quad Bike King and took an ATV tour of the sand dunes.  It was intense and super cool. The sand made you lose traction a little bit at times and hills were sometimes steep. The trip was very bumpy where 4WD vehicles had left deep treads across the dunes. Towards the end there was a track of sharp turns and jumps.

On the tour we stopped at the Sygna ship wreck and took pictures.  This ship sank in May 1974 during a heavy storm on her maiden voyage.  The crew was rescued and unharmed.

The staff at Quad Bike King was amazing and helpful.  I would recommend to anyone in the area to take the 130 Bus to Port Stephens and try out this amazing experience! We got a $20 discount for having a group of 9.  This experience was well worth 90 Australian dollars. Their website is


Even though I missed friends and family back home, my birthday here was pretty awesome.  It was all thanks to my second family here.  We have all became so close that we consider each other our second family.

To celebrate on Wednesday night we got dressed up and met up with some friends at the beach.  Then we went to the Brewery which is a lot of fun and in a great location on the harbor.  However, The Brewery for some reason was playing "World's Most Embarrassing/ Disgusting Body Parts on TV."  I did not need to see that.

On Thursday, my actual birthday, we had a Mexican pot luck.  It consisted of tacos, chips and salsa, quesadillas, Chinese rice, and cheesecake.  The guys had a little mix up when shopping for Mexican rice.  At least they tried.  Audrie, also, made me an amazing Raspberry Cheesecake.  She is the baker in the group.  After dinner we went to the Kent in Hamilton for karaoke and dancing.

Awkward moment of being sang Happy Birthday.

Marcus force fed me some of the Chinese rice :/

Cheesecake Audrie made me! Nom nom nom

Me and the sombrero the room came with!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Shark and Ray Center

On Monday, Chloe, Audrie, and I went to the Shark and Ray Center in Port Stephens to feed and pat sharks and stingrays.  We got a great deal on Living Social for $15 admission.  Normally, it is 30.  We paid $15 more to hire a wetsuit to be able to get in the tanks.

Most of the sharks were small but one was about 3 meters long.  Some sharks were smooth and slimy while others were rough.  All the sting ray species were slimy except one which was rough.  Check out the website to see the different species we got to pat.  Yes, Australians call it patting.

Favorite Stingray

Stingrays are cuddly

Big shark!

Largest Stingray Species

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tony Mowbray

Today for Ilead, we went and heard Tony Mowbray speak on his sailing adventures.  Tony survived the horrific storm in the Sydney and Hobart sailing race. Before this race, he was planning to sail around the world in the next couple. At first this terrifying storm where he thought he and his crew were all going to die, made him think twice about continuing with his plan.  However, he refocused and embarked on a solo journey across the world in 2000.  This journey took him a 181 days.  On 3 of those days he saw land and on none of those days a human.  He completed this journey to succeed at his goal and be a great dad and motivator to his kids.  The video of when he got back from the voyage almost made me cry seeing his face and his family's faces.  He has now continued sailing and made numerous trips to Antarctica and other places around the world.  His daughter and son both followed in his footsteps and work for other larger yachts.  He plans on his 20 year old son taking over his yacht in the next year.
Tony Mowbray is, also, now a motivational speaker.  His main focus is five words: 1. Dream 2. Think 3. Talk 4. COMMIT 5. Act.  Check out his website:

I was graced with not only hearing about one world travelers adventures, but on Autonomy Day I met Tom.  Tom plans on cycling around Australia and then the rest of the world for charity.  He just embarked on his journey a month ago.  Check out his blog at

Tony Mowbray 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

China Town in Sydney

     Yesterday, we went to Sydney.  We started off pigging out at Mackers.  We do not get enough protein throughout the week due to our budgets on food so $2 McDoubles and McChickens become pretty good.  Also, the ice cream is 30 cents. The cones are yummier than America's and taste sort of like a fortune cookie.
    Next, we went to Paddy's Market in China Town and bought souvenirs. I spent way too much money but got a lot of cool magnets, boomerangs, aboriginal dot paintings, and other knick-knacks.  Sadly, I plan on going back to buy more.  I maybe should get a third suitcase.
    While walking around China Town I signed a petition to stop live organ harvesting for prisoners in China.  The main prisoners it focused on was the Falun Dafa a group that focuses on meditation. Check out their website to learn about the horrors they go through.  The one article I read about tortures with a toothbrush was super horrifying and disturbing. I am glad that I signed their petition.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Ilead Speakes Daniel Kilov and Conor Ashleigh

At uni there is a program called Ilead about international leadership.  To get my completion certificate, I must go to different speakers and activities. I have already completed part of the program by studying abroad.
A couple of weeks ago we listened to a memory athlete speak about how to improve your memory. His name was Daniel Kilov. He mainly said to make up creative stories to remember things. Here is a link to a Tedtalk he has done about memory
Last night we heard an amazing photo journalist speak about his time in Gaza, India, and other places.  His pictures are breathtaking.  Check out his website at

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Oakvale Farm

Today our site coordinators, Rayna and Jason Sommers, took us to Oakvale Farm to see kangaroos, wallabies, and koala bears.  I got to feed the kangaroos and wallabies and I got to pat a koala.  I cannot wait to go to Brisbane or Tasmania to hold a koala.  I tried holding a baby kangaroo today, but he made a mean sound and started to kick.  We, also, bottle fed lambs, goats, and calves. This little farm is filled with many animals to get up close and personal with.

This little Joey fell out of his mom's pouch.

Saturday, August 10, 2013


University of Newcastle is a lot different than High Point University.  For one it is huge!  I got a Lost on Campus app to help me find my classes.  So far I have been through 2 weeks of classes.  The first week I just had lectures and the second week I, also, had my tutorials.  Tutorials are smaller than the lecture and have about 20 students in a class.  These give you a chance to work in groups and actually apply the things talked about in the lecture.  I sort of wish I went to uni from day one so that I could have tutorials and not have to take gen eds. Australians call school uni and go straight into their majors instead of taking a year of gen eds.

It is nice that they show whether or not another class is going on especially since lectures are back to back.

My schedule.

The desks in some of my lectures are basically cages.

It takes a lot more walking to get to class than it does at HPU.  To get to class each day I have to walk 15 minutes to Civic train station, ride the train for about 10 minutes to Warabrook station, and walk 15 minutes across campus.  The walk across campus is like walking through a nature trail through the woods. Campus is on old Aboriginal grounds.   There are these scary birds though called Magpies that make this horrible racket and supposedly swoop at people.  There are warning signs.  I may have to punch a bird before the end of the semester. Pray for me as my lazy butt gets used to walking and dodging birds.

Here is a picture of the scary signs

The desks in some of my lectures are basically cages.

Despite the walking the University of Newcastle seems to be just as extraordinary as HPU.  There are two pubs or bars on campus, The Godfrey Tanner Bar and the Bar on the Hill.  Bar on the Hill hosts parties throughout the school year.  We have been to two so far. On the first week, we went to the Back to School party where everyone dressed up as school girls and boys.  We dressed up as some pretty cute nerds.  This past Friday we went to a party for Autonomy Day that started at 7am and ended at 4pm.  Autonomy day is when Newcastle split from the University of New South Wales. I am excited for the other parties throughout the semester.

Bar on the Hill!

Back to School Party!

A bit of the crowd at Autonomy Day!

UoN, also, has other amenities besides parties. There is free breakfast all day at NUSA.  The breakfast consists of toast and cereal.  There are tons of food options on campus that include Subway, a pie shop, a noodle restaurant, an ice cream shop, and many more. Students do not have a meal plan.  However, campus is one of the cheaper places to get food in Newcastle. If you want to stay on your budget even more, there are microwaves in the Shortland building and NUSA to heat up food.  There is a super nice gym with pools, exercise rooms, exercise classes, and a rock climbing wall.  The downside is that it costs 9.95 a week to exercise at the gym on campus or the smaller location in town near the Civic train station.   I do not think I am going to buy a membership.  I need to save money for plane tickets and I work out more than ever by the all the walking  I do each day.

 I am very happy with my choice to attend Newcastle and not Bond.

Monday, August 5, 2013

First Trip to Sydney

Even though I was feeling a bit sick, yesterday I went to Sydney with the group.  To get to Sydney, we have to take a 3 hour train ride.  When we got there we were starving, so we went to this little hole in the wall to eat.  This restaurant experience cause me to realize that I miss tipping.  In Australia you do not tip. The tip is built in to the cost of food.  I miss tipping though because it gets you better service.
We then went shopping.  I found Australian Opal necklaces that were originally a $100 but 50% off.  I bough one for myself and one for my mom for Christmas. I, also, bought a cheap fake Australian opal necklace with a koala bear.  I thought about getting an expensive one with a koala, but decided I was to old for that.
Next we followed Sam as he gave us a tour of Sydney.  He is a dual citizen to both America and Australia.  He has been visiting his family in Sydney throughout his whole life. He took us to this ritzy mall with this cool staircase, to this store with its own DJ called Culture Kings, and to Darling Harbor.  We, also, went to one of the many McDonalds or the Mackers.  At McDonalds I ordered a McDouble with only cheese and ketchup and got only bread, cheese, and ketchup.  They did not give me any beef. There are communication problems at times while ordering.  Overall it was a great first trip into Sydney.

Opera House and Sydney Harbor Pictures

Australian Opal Necklaces

Cool Stairs and Elephant

Darling Harbor