Please note the application deadline extension to FEBRUARY 1st!!
Few places on earth can match the unique character and magnificence of Australia. This UW-Green Bay travel course will take you to four of the continent’s most spectacular places, providing an unforgettable world-class travel experience. Led by UW-Green Bay professors Dr. Amy Wolf and Dr. Robert Howe, we will visit ancient cloud forests, vast outback deserts, tropical rainforests, and the Great Barrier Reef. The focus will be on ecology and biodiversity, with little time spent in cities. We expect to see hundreds of plant and animal species found nowhere else, including duck-billed platypus, cassowary, birds-of-paradise, bower birds, parrots, koala, kangaroos, and representatives of Australia’s spectacular endemic flora. We also will experience Australia’s modern and aboriginal culture during visits to a thriving urban center (Brisbane), a pastoral rural landscape (Atherton Tablelands), sacred aboriginal sites (Uluru-Kata Tjuta and Watarrka National Parks), and tourist destinations in the wet tropics of northeast Queensland.
The course will begin with online and in-class preparation for the 18 day trip during August 2013. After a trans-Pacific flight we arrive in the coastal city of Brisbane, going from the Northern Hemisphere to the Southern Hemisphere in about 13 hours. From Brisbane we head to the Great Dividing Range and Lamington National Park, home of ancient Antarctic beech forests, the spectacular Regent Bowerbird, Albert’s Lyrebird, and a unique blue crayfish found only on the Lamington Plateau. We will stay in an historic rustic cottage within the park.
After three days of hiking and exploring in the Great Dividing Range, we will then fly to Alice Springs and Australia’s “Red Centre.” During the next 5 days our travels include the spectacular Uluru-Kata Tjuta World Heritage Site, the Macdonnell Ranges, and Watarrka National Park. Accommodations during this leg of the trip will include campground cabins and a backpacker-style lodge.
The flight from Alice Springs to our next stop (Cairns) will provide glimpses of vast, uninhabited wilderness, some of the most remote places on earth. After a short visit to the famous Cairns Esplanade to observe mudflats and shorebirds, we will drive to Yungaburra, a charming town in the heart of the Atherton Tablelands. Platypus, golden bowerbird, birds-of-paradise, tree kangaroos, rock wallabies, and other endemic plants and animals will be targeted during the next three days, returning each evening to comfortable bushland cottages and a taste of rural Australia.
From the Atherton Tablelands we drive across the crocodile-inhabited Daintree River to the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. A backpacker lodge will be our headquarters for 4+ days in the rainforests and coastal beaches of Queensland’s Far North. Highlighting this leg of our journey will be two trips to the Great Barrier Reef near Cape Tribulation for snorkeling and whale-watching. We also will search for unique nocturnal mammals, endemic frogs, and rare birds, including the southern cassowary, a globally endangered giant flightless bird. After our Daintree adventures we return to Cairns and the flight back to North America.
Travel to Australia is expensive, and food, lodging, and travel within the continent are likewise costly. Nevertheless, participants will find the trip to be comfortable, with modest accommodations and facilities for group-cooked meals. Lodging typically will consist of shared cabins (4-5 per unit) or hostel-like rooms with separate facilities. Ground travel will occur in rented vehicles. Although the trip will take place during late winter, temperatures are expected to be mild at all but Lamington National Park, where nights can be chilly.
The trip is available to both students and community members. Because much of the trip will involve hiking and nature study, participants must be physically fit and have a keen interest in natural history.