Tuesday, May 24, 2016

May 23rd

We boarded the bus at 8:30 after a delicious continental breakfast and headed on our way to get on the sky rail. We rode the sky rail for about an hour through the very wet and rainy rainforest.  We made one stop to take a look around at a natural waterfall coming off the mountain side.  We had beautiful views of exotic trees and plants.  The heights, unfortunately, got to some people and they had a minor freak out and nearly cacked.

Part of the group in front of Barron Falls

Barron Falls

Next we had an hour drive up the rainforest mountains to an avocado producer’s orchard.  The Orchard was located 2,000 feet above Cairns and much cooler.  Most of us wish we would have worn more clothing.  He has 10,000 avocado trees.  The avocado can stay on the tree and not ripen for around 2 months after the growth.  They harvest the avocados from March to June.  They hand pick all the avocados and after they are picked is when they start to ripen.  They ripen due to an enzyme breaking down the fruit.  They are one of the oldest non-domesticated trees because they have not been modified, for example an apple tree has been modified.  They are pollinated from Asian bees.  He said the reason why is because Asian bees aren’t lazy.  They bring the bees in when need be and remove them when they have done their duty.  They have a specific grading scale that gets measured out through a machine.  The avocados then get separated into their grades and put into their specific boxes to be shipped to their destination.  He showed us a very cool citrus tree that had lemons, limes, grapefruit, and blood oranges.  This is possible by grafting other citrus fruits to a lemon tree.  He also grew a small forest of banana trees.
Avocado tree loaded with fruit
Students in front of a banana tree.  A first for many students.
Colored bags on banana bunches, color coding allows managers to tell workers which bananas to harvest by bag color.
Our next visit was to Mungalli Creek Dairy operation, where they served us lunch.  They ran a bio-dynamic dairy.  Bio-dynamic is a step above organic with only a few differences between them, making it more strict.  They made their own yogurt, cheese, ice cream, and used their own milk products.  They also had their own free range egg producing chickens, which they used in products and for sale.  Their pastures are fertilized by a product called 500.  This is created from cow pies buried in the ground for 6 months and then dug up.  A golf ball size clump is stirred with water to activate it and is then spread on an acre.  This makes for sturdier grasses in their pastures.  They utilize rotational grazing in their paddocks as well.  They keep their dairy cattle out on pastures and feed them a bio dynamic approved grain ration when they are milked.  They have five farms and the parlor we saw had 120 head of cattle. 
Dairy cows at the Mungalli Creek Dairy.
As we end the day and come to the end of our amazing trip we had our farewell dinner.  We went to a place called Dundee’s located on the harbor next to the ocean and had a very delicious meal.  We said good bye to Bryan who helped plan the trip and toured with us.  He was very helpful and informational and will be missed.

SDSU group by Bryan Johnston, our tour guide.  He was a great tour!

Raquel and Crystal

Sunday, May 22, 2016

May 22nd

This morning we enjoyed a continental breakfast before heading off to the Cairns Marina for a Great Barrier Reef Cruise.  Our cruise ship was called Reef Magic and can normally hold up to around 270 people, but due to the rain there was only about 70 passengers. We got lucky and had plenty of room on the boat to move around and it was to our advantage later the day as well. The cruise took us 55 kilometers or 34 miles out to the Great Barrier Reef where we anchored to Marine World pontoon. The hour and half boat ride seemed longer for some than others because the water was quite rough with the wind today. 

The students are ready to board the cruise boat.

The Reef Magic cruise boat took us out to the reef and back.

Once we got out to the reef we docked and were able to start our activities. Julie decided to rent an underwater camera for the students to take pictures while snorkeling. This was enjoyed by all, except when the salt water got in our snorkels. All the students snorkeled including Julie! Paige, Cara, Angel, Ben, and Ethan chose to also do an introductory scuba dive. They all loved it and say it’s one of the coolest things they’ve ever done. Most students spent all their time in the water looking at the reef and marine life. For those who didn’t want to be in the water after dinner there was boat tours around the reef. One boat was semi-submersible and one was a glass bottom. Tour guides pointed out different marine life and parts of the reef to us. They said that the reef contains more forms of life than the Amazon Rainforest. Even whales, sharks, and barracudas come up to the reef for cleaning by the fish there.

The Marine World, a pontoon, that we anchored to at the reef.

Kyle and Ben having fun after lunch on the pontoon.

A bunch of the students posing before going snorkeling.

The friendly blue fish the crew members call Wally.

View of the drop of at the edge of the reef.

After a long day on the reef the boat cruised back to shore and we enjoyed supper around our hotel in Cairns. The students were all pretty tired after a fun day on the water.

Shots the students took while snorkeling. {Next 4 pics}

The students snorkeling with Wally close by.{Next 2 pics}

A shark spotted in the distance.  

Some of the fish species the students captured pictures of. {Next 3 pics}

Macey and Bailey snorkeling.

Jessica, Paige, and Cara snorkeling.

The students enjoyed swimming with the turtles.

The semi-submersible boat tour around the reef.

Marilyn and Jessica