A Bison Abroad| Adventures in Australian Landscapes Class

While studying abroad, I had the opportunity to take all electives. I signed up for classes that best suited my interests. It wasn’t until I got to Australia and talked to a student who was also studying abroad, that I found out about a class that soon became my favorite. This class was called Adventures in Australian Landscapes. The class was made for study abroad students to familiarize themselves with the wild life and ecosystem in Australia. It focused on teaching the different kinds of trees, birds and plants throughout Australia.

Payton Mark | THE SPECTRUM
Rain forest in the middle of Fraser Island where Jurassic Park was filmed.

The best part of this class was that it wasn’t a classroom-based class. We learned the material through real life examples and got to see for ourselves the different landscapes in Australia. There were very few classroom lectures because we went on trips that took up a big chunk of time.

Throughout the semester we went on three different class trips. Two were close to the Sunshine Coast, which was where the university was, and one was hours away. Two of them were daytime trips and the other we spent two nights camping.

The first trip we took was during the daytime and was to Noosa National Park. We spent the day kayaking through the river. It was a total of about six miles and was a really good arm workout. We stopped half way through the day to have lunch in the town of Noosa, which has great beaches for surfing and relaxing. The main reason we went kayaking through Noosa was to learn about the birds that are frequently seen around this area. We also became familiar with trees that we would continue to learn about throughout the semester.

The next trip was our two nights of camping on Fraser Island. This island is the largest sand island in the world. It’s known for its beaches that are miles and miles long and they are used as their highway. There are no paved

Payton Mark | THE SPECTRUM
Beautiful Lake McKenzie is known for its crystal clear water and white sand.

roads on this island, only the beach and sandy paths throughout the middle of the island. It’s also known for the wild dogs called dingoes. These dogs can be very vicious, so the campsite that we stayed at was blocked off with a fence so they couldn’t get in. The whole class camped in tents and, though this wasn’t the most luxurious trip, it taught us the majority of the content we needed to know for the class. We spent a day hiking for hours through a rain forest where one of the “Jurassic Park” movies was filmed. Our destination at the end of the hike was the beautiful Lake McKenzie. This lake has a bright blue color and crystal clear water. This was one of my highlights of the trip along with biking by the beach and seeing a dingo howl. After this trip I was able to recognize many trees and birds such as the Yellow-cheeked Honeyeater. Some of the trees were the Pandanus, which I frequently saw around Australia, the Coastal Banksia, Pig Face and the Horsetail Sheoak.

The final trip that we went on was definitely my favorite. It was a day trip to the Glass House Mountains, which are close to our campus. The Glass House Mountains are a chain of thirteen hills and mountains grouped together. We spent the day on the mountain called Mount Ngungun. We first spent time rock climbing, which I really enjoyed because I had never rock climbed a real mountain. We also learned how to belay someone so it was super cool to do everything on our own without teachers. We then climbed to the top of the mountain and got ready to abseil down the side of the mountain. This was something that I will never forget in my life. It was a very tall mountain and my heart was pounding most of the time while going down. While I was halfway down the mountain I took time to look out into the view and it was breathtaking.

Payton Mark | THE SPECTRUM
Abseiling down the side of Mount Ngungun in the Glass House Mountains.

I really enjoyed this class. It’s crazy to me that a class like this exists because there would never be a class like this in North Dakota. I enjoyed the learning technique the teacher had. This class made me realize, I am a more “hands on” learner. Being able to see the things we needed to learn in person helped so much in fully taking in the information. This class gave me the opportunity to travel to new places and experience new adventures in Australia.

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