Kessia Virah Sawmy: A chilled lecture recess

For the first time ever, I had no big trips planned weeks in advance for lecture recess. While it was a quickie lecture recess, I was still able to do some cool stuff during that week.

The first few days of lecture recess were spent stranded at home, waiting for a cyclone that never came. My housemates and I were so prepared, with canned food, candles, a bathtub filled with water and all our outdoor furniture brought inside. Waiting for it to happen was the hardest thing of all. We were a bit disappointed to not see any effects of the cyclone except for a minute of rain and some wind, but after seeing all the destruction it caused down South, I was relieved that it had not come at all in Townsville. My pantry still has all the can food I bought and 10L of water which we managed to get last minute even though all the shops were nearly out of stock. If any of you run out of drinkable water, you know where to come! A good thing about this cyclone is that it forced me to stay at home and work on my assignments, even though I spent more time in the kitchen than I should have (snacking is the worst when I’m at home).

Two of my friends and I had planned a trip to Maggie island for that week. Hearing that a cyclone was coming, we were considering cancelling our trip but I am happy we did not. After the cyclone warning was off, we headed to Maggie Island on a calm Thursday morning, with the sun shining as bright as usual. Since we were staying over the island for only one night, we decided to make the most of our trip there by starting our trip bright and early. We were on the Sealink ferry by 8:50am, and at 9:20am we were already on the island, meeting our AirBnB host in Picnic Bay. For our one night there, we stayed at a lovely place with two elderly hosts who gave us the warmest welcome. Not wasting the slightest bit of time, we decided to do the Forts walk at 10am. It was an extremely hot day and we sweated a few litres of water. To our disappointment, we did not spot any koalas on the walk (they must have hidden due to cyclone warnings L ).

As if a 4km walk was not enough, we took a 10min break and started another trek on the Bays walk, where we went through Arthur Bay, Florence Bay, Radical Bay and finished at Horseshoe Bay. It took us nearly 3 hours to do it all but we stopped at each bay and it was well worth it. This area of the island is not very busy since you can only get there by 4-wheel drive or by walking. We literally had the whole beach to ourselves and the view was breathtaking. None of us had stinger suits and even though we should not have done it, we still swam in the sea. I was paranoid the whole time, looking around me for stingers and being scared at the tiniest thing floating around me. Moral of the story: always wear stinger suits during stinger season

After 8km of walk, dying of heat and exhaustion, we were happy to finally get to Horseshoe Bay and first things first, we had to have ice cream. In the evening, we hiked up a trail in Picnic Bay to see the sunset over Maggie island and finished off our day with a lovely homemade meal with our hosts and a beautiful clear starry night sky. The next day, we had a lazy morning with a delicious breakfast provided by our hosts. We then headed to Alma Bay where we spotted a shark swimming close to shore, chasing its meal. After this unusual view, a very copious lunch at a nice coffee shop in Arcadia drew an end to our trip on Maggie island. It was heartbreaking to leave the island and the beautiful sceneries but we had to come back to the mainland.

On the weekend, I continued by holidaying by going to Billabong Sanctuary with a few friends from the Christian Union group. While I had already been there in my first year of uni, it was still nice to go there again and see some amazing Australian animals. We were given a private tour of the park and got to hold a snake and baby crocodile, pat kangaroos and cute koalas. The park is an open area with presentations throughout the day on different animals. You can also hold a koala and get your picture taken with them. The rangers and volunteers are very welcoming and quite knowledgeable about the animals in the park. You can find most iconic Australian animals there, including kangaroos, koalas, crocodiles, bilbies, cassowaries, wombats, emus, and dingos. The kangaroos hop casually around the park and can easily be patted and fed. The most exciting part of the tour was seeing the crocodile being fed. This 5 m crocodile jumped out of the water to grab hold of a piece of meat. It was interesting to learn that this tiny piece of meat (about 1kg) is enough to keep the crocodile full for a week. I certainly eat more in one week compared to this huge crocodile.

Lecture recess went by very fast and it is already time to come back to campus before the final half of this semester. I am glad to have had a more relaxed lecture recess this semester. There is definitely lots you can do if you stay in Townsville for the break!

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