It’s hard for me to believe, but it has been a month since my fall semester break! I guess time really does fly when you are having a blast… I’d like to take a minute to share some memories from my trip up the east coast of Australia.
For my week-long uni break in April, I booked a 10-day guided tour with a company called G Adventures. (G is an abbreviation of GAP, which stands for Great Adventure People… so the whole name is really Great Adventure People Adventures – confusing, I know.) G Adventures specializes in small group adventure travel, and there were only about twenty young people travelling on my east coast trip, including our fearless group leader, Josh.
I met up with the group in Brisbane, which is a city about 1,000 kilometers north of Sydney, and from there, we made our way up the coast to the city of Cairns by bus, train, and yacht. Over the next ten days, we saw some of the most beautiful places in the world, including Fraser Island – the world’s largest sand island, Whitehaven beach in the Whitsunday Islands, and the Great Barrier Reef.
What really made this trip the most incredible week of my life, though, was getting to experience these places with my group-mates. We were complete strangers on day one; most of us were traveling alone, and we came from all over the world – England, Scotland, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, Canada, and the United States. But after spending ten days together, we became a little family of sorts, and I’m so glad that I got to spend my break with my G Adventures family.
My favorite moment of the whole trip happened on the third night. We had spent the day sailing in the Whitsunday Islands, and we were anchored for the night in a small channel. I was lying on the top deck of our maxi yacht, surrounded by my new friends, and we had just enjoyed a blazing orange sunset over the tropical waters. The light was fading, and we were settling in to start stargazing.
Because there was little light pollution out in the islands, the stars were brilliantly bright, and the Milky Way lit up the night sky. I had just been talking and laughing with my English friend – listening to stories about the stupid things he had done in his life and sharing some of my own, but for a few minutes, we fell silent. The other people around us were quiet too. No one needed to say anything. We all simply gazed up at the sky in wonder, taking in the moment together.
Laying on that yacht under the stars in the company of my friends, I felt incredible. Seeing the stars and the Milky Way helped me to appreciate how small we all are in comparison to the universe, but at the same time, being with my group-mates helped me to realise that our small lives can be filled with great meaning. They each had different experiences and perspectives to share, and I loved hearing about all the places that they had visited around the world and the things they had already accomplished with their lives. They helped me to realize that there is so much that we can see and do in life.
My group-mates came from very different backgrounds, but one thing that they all had in common was their positive energy. It seemed like nothing could get them down on the trip – even when we had to get up at 4am the morning after a night out in order to catch a train, we all managed to have a good laugh as we collapsed onto the platform. As one of our drivers from Fraser Island put it, the group had a “passion for living”. And this passion was contagious.
I feel so lucky to have been able to spend my fall break with such amazing people. At the beginning of the trip, I wasn’t expecting that they would have a significant impact on my life in any way, but they helped me appreciate how beautiful life can be if you approach it with the right attitude. And that isn’t a lesson that you can learn inside a classroom. (So yes, mom, my fall break was educational.)