Australian Outback

The “Australian Outback” refers to the remote, interior of this continent.  Also known as the “red center,” “the desert” or “the bush.”

FUN FACT: The term “outback” is used to describe the emptiness, remoteness and huge distances of inland Australia.  The Outback is 2.5 square miles with less than 60,000 people living here, mostly in the “Northern Territory” of Australia.

Look how big the Outback is, most people live along the coast.

FUN FACT: Australia is made up of 6 states and 2 territories.  The difference between a territory and a state has to do with the government influences in that region.

Whatever you call it, it is remote, hot, full of wandering animals like horses, dingos,  kangaroos, and especially camels…lots of bugs ( ants, flies, mosquitoes) and lizards.  Does it sound like a place YOU want to go?  It is very cool to visit but I would not live here.  I can see why it is not that populated.  This is desert that is made up of red sand, HUGE rock formations and lots of vegetation (that the wild animals live on).

IMG_1512We took these photos to show the desert. What you cant see is the flies and the heat. It is actually quite nice to look at.  I will highlight a bit of what we did and where we went. We flew from Cairns to Alice Springs (look on the map above , its in the center of the country). From there we drove to 3 different places over 8 days. IMG_1443

Alice Springs: The most populated city in Northern Territory. We stayed at a campground that had awesome things for kids. Pool, games, etc.IMG_1449We met a lot of kids on this slide, we went down a lot! Even Mom and Dad got in on the fun.  Met other home schooled kids from Australia, they call homeschooling “distance learning” and I played with them.

imageIMG_1447This is the cabin we rented at the campsite, we had to walk across the way to use the toilets and showers. We visited the “West MacDonnel Mountain Ranges ” for some short hikes.  This is me on a “dry” river bed, since it is the summer time here there is a drout, but in the winter the river runs. IMG_1492IMG_1501Here is the only water I saw left in the river. IMG_1482IMG_1484This is the Stanley Chasm. We walked in between the rocks and I yelled a lot to hear my echo.

We went to a Desert Walk, which was like a wildlife center.  We got to walk around and see them on a trail.  I saw my first Kangaroos.  This guy was the leader of the bunch. He was the biggest and taller than me.  Here he is resting under a tree because it was hot.

IMG_1459IMG_1465Baby.IMG_1473Here is a little “joey” drinking from his mom’s pouch. I thought it was cool to see.

FUN FACT: Kangaroo’s legs can only move together and not independent of each other. That’s why they hop.  They only hop “forward” not up! No matter what you see on cartoons, they don’t hop up. A bunch of kangaroos is called a MOB.

I got to see them hopping.

ABORIGINAL Learning:  I sat through a presentation which a woman aboriginal was talking about how her ancestors used to live and survive in the desert.  Aboriginal’s are native Australians.  I learned about the food they found in the desert and what tools they made to survive.  They did NOT plant anything in the desert (too hot) or build shelters, they slept outside. They wandered around a lot and their whole life was survival.  There were different men’s jobs and women’s jobs in the unit.  The men would make and use tools like boomerangs and spears to hunt and the women would dig in the dirt to find grubs and pick berries and seeds. Here is me demonstrating what an Aboriginal Woman wore to go out and find food. They had a bowl of water on their head, which was hard for me to balance. THe wooden basket I am holding was to carry a baby. All of the tools and supplies were from wood.

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CAMEL’s. IMG_1514

FUN FACTS:

Camel do not store water in their hump, they store fat, which they can live off of.

Camels are not native to Australia. They were brought here from Pakistan in the late 1800’s and now there are so many that there is half a million camels roaming around the outback. WE SAW THIs ONE while drivingIMG_1519

Camels have one baby at a time, if they have twins the mom dies.

One hump and two hump camels are different kind of camel. One hump camels live in the hot weather, and two hump camels can live in the cold weather. We rode one hump camels.

You can eat camel burgers.  I tried one and liked it, it was more juicy and a tad spicier than cow burgers.

When I rode the camel it was a bumpy ride and I liked pretending I was an early explorer adventuring into the outback.  Getting on the camel was cool, it had to kneel down and then it jerks you up fast. I learned a lot about Camel’s and I’m a camel expert now.  The picture of the small camel is a baby at 3 months old, and its as big as me!!! THe skeleton bones are of an adult male. HUGE>IMG_1573IMG_1578

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KINGS CANYON WE drove from Alice Springs to Kings Canyon (4 hours) On the way we saw wild horses (yes they do roam the desert) and 2 dingo’s and a dead camel on the road.imageIMG_1523The horses were beautiful, It’s hard to believe they are wild. They were in group of 6 or 7. The photo of the dingo mom took is for her friend lisa M  image

FUN FACT for Lisa about the Dingo: Their ears are always up straight

The Kings Canyon reminded me of the hike at Grand Canyon, we had to walk at least a thousand stone stairs and on rocky ground for 3 hours.  The first day I was sick with a fever so Mom and I stayed in. I slept and walked around the campsite, there was hardly anyone there.  I saw a lot of weird bugs that you wouldn’t see anywhere else . In the bathroom ( that was in a separate building) I saw a preemantis 8 inches long . And a ton of big moths. Lots of ants and one time a large grasshopper landed on me. I freaked out. IMG_1531 IMG_1530This is the campground that is usually filled but it is summer so LOW season and hot. We had a room at the site. THe next day we all went on a hike, it started to rain and the hike was harder , it rained so heavy we had to find shelter when we could. We pretended we were Aboriginal’s and took cover in the caves. image

The cave had slippery rocks , towards the last hour there were waterfalls falling over the rim of the canyon, we were drenched!!!! Felt like I went swimming. This picture is taken from the internet because we were in a rain storm.  The canyon is so steep and when you get to the top this is what you see.  No barriers, just huge cliff.  Of course, mom only let us go no where near the edge. 

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The Olgas:  Kata Tjutu National Park

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The Olgas are made up of 36 Enormous rock formations in the middle of the desert.  IMG_1557Up close they have a lot of caves, holes and indents in the rock.  I think they were formed from rock falling off and erosion.  What I find weird is that this entire park had only 2 trails, we hiked both of them, we kept looking in the rock crevices to see a “rock wallaby” but did not see any. It is really impressive that these rocks are in the middle of nowhere. IMG_1566We had to wear a fly net over our hat because the flies are so annoying in summer. Dad had at least 100 on his back. the fly nets are very helpful to keep flies out of your face, if it weren’t for the fly net we couldn’t do these hikes.imageimage

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ULURU:  Ayers RockIMG_1549

FUN FACT: What we see is actually on the tip of Uluru. The rest of the rock goes down under the ground for 5 Kilometers.  ITS HUGE. Geologists study it.

Uluru, I was very excited to finally see Uluru. I’ve seen the pictures and was excited to climb it, only to find out that as of last month you can’t climb Uluru anymore.  There is a temporary arrangement between the Aboriginals and the Australian government to close it for a while, (they consider this a sacred site). So for now, no climb. IMG_1585This is the path up that when opened you can take . But not now. On the path there is a rope and it is steep. My parents climbed this in 2000. I wish we could have climbed it. They were here in the Australia winter (July) and it was way more crowded and cool breezes.  Its deadly hot now, empty,  and they said they would never return to the Australian desert in  summer again because of the heat and flies.  BUT, they are glad they got to show us these amazing sites.

Uluru is so impressive. The biggest ROCK IN THE WORLD.IMG_1584There are fallen rocks, caves and you can really see the erosion. There is water hole but totally dried out in summer..  I personally like the view better from a distance but was cool to see up close and touch it. The rock is really RED.IMG_1539IMG_1545The black lines are from where the water falls down after a rain storm. IMG_1549

We walked a little around it (it is 9.4 km) and 100 degrees so we did not walk the entire thing, only a little, we drove around it and stopped to look at the massive size.  I wish we got to rent bikes but there was a problem with our reservation and we were told the wrong time so we couldn’t rent the bikes.IMG_1581We are a day ahead of NY so we want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas.

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The Southern Hemisphere: Sky

Our trip to the Outback was very educational. We learned a lot of things. On the last night we did a night time Astronomy Lesson with 2 Astronomers.  We walked into the desert, had a talk about the constellations, the southern sky , the stars, planets and moon.  Then, we got to look at the moon, certain stars and nebula’s with the high powered telescopes they had.  We looked for an hour. We saw stars that shined like a rainbow, The planet Mercury, 2 stars that circle each other, constellations and how to navigate using stars as reference points.  I learned a cool thing about the moon that I will do a project on. I asked a lot of questions to the Astronomers. My Mom’s cousin , Russell, would have loved this presentation.imageTHis photo of the moon was taken with Mom’s I phone through the telescope lens.  the last photo is taken from the internet of the southern hemisphere sky from the Outback in Australia.

I can be reached at rileymeckley@yahoo.com

Overnight sailing-Great Barrier Reef

This is an ariel view of only part the Great Barrier Reef taken from the internet.

  you can see how big the GBR is.  It is located off the north east part of Australia.

The reef is huge. I will quote again how significant this place is…

Great Barrier Reef
Coral reef in Queensland, Australia

The Great Barrier Reef, off the coast of Queensland in northeastern Australia, is the largest living thing on Earth, and even visible from outer space. The 2,300km-long ecosystem comprises thousands of reefs and hundreds of islands made of over 600 types of hard and soft coral. It’s home to countless species of colourful fish, molluscs and starfish, plus turtles, dolphins and sharks.
SIMG_0432  Sawyer and I on the Sailboat heading out in the Coral Sea to visit the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). This excursion was a 2 day sailing that stopped at 6 different reefs.  All of them better than the next.  I saw a lot of cool things, like GIANT CLAMS that were 4 feet long,  black tip sharks, tons and tons of beautiful coral, Blue sea stars and fish of all sizes and colors.  On the boat there were people getting certified for Scuba diving and they were taking a class, I listened in and learned everything ,I can identify all of the coral and fish that they can.  I learned a lot about oceanography and marine biology and the life of the reef.    I cant dive until I’m old enough…..but….Dad let me try his breathing regulator (the one that the Oxygen comes out of) while in the water and I used it while connected to him for 5 minutes under water.  So technically, Sawyer and I got to scuba dive.  Cool. Unlike snorkeling it was fun not to always have to be on the surface.
Just so you know, MOM took all of these pictures with an underwater camera we rented.  They are NOT from the internet.
IMG_0447I saw a lot of Plate coral, most of which were 2 feet or more long.  Not many fish feed on this type of coral. I wonder why? IMG_0473I also saw broccoli coral, Elk coral, spaghetti coral, elephant ears, honeycomb coral, plate and brain coral and more. IMG_0533IMG_0600This is a GIANT CLAM. it is over 4 feet long. If you read my blog earlier, you will know I saw hundreds of smaller clams in French Polynesia that i touched so I was REALLY excited to see these Giant Clams of the sea.  the biggest clams in the world are in the Great Barrier Reef, they are really one of a kind, HUGE> I lost count of how many I saw but I liked spotting them from snorkeling, IMG_0643I wonder how old these clams are? I will research this and do a report about it for my school work. IMG_0628look at the awesome color in this clam.
FUN FACTS:
The shell is extremely thick and lacks bony plates; when viewed from above, each valve has four to five inward facing triangular projections. The mantle of the giant clam is visible between the two shells, and is a golden brown, yellow or green, or a combination of colors.
The giant clam inhabits warm tropical waters on reef flats and shallow lagoons to a depth of up to 20 metres
The Giant clam never moves from its location.
I think it would boring to be a clam. Imagine the same position for life??
IMG_0672IMG_0558Sawyer and I going down to look at something. We spent hours in the water coming back to the boat to eat and sail to the next reef.  You will never believe what happened to me at the GBR.  I got stung by a “blue  bottle” jellyfish.  Twice.  That’s why I finally put on this wet suit.  The first sting wasn’t that bad, just itchyk.  The second sting was worse, I got stung on MY HAND, a centemeter from where the wet suit sleeve ended, just my luck.  I saw the blue stinger right on me . It was a long blue thread with a ball at the end. Dad picked the stinger out of my hand and threw it into the water. IMG_0707This is part of a BRAIN coral and it was as big as a truck.
FUN FACT: Brain coral only grows 1 centimeter a year….imagine how old this one is.
THe boat we were on was not a luxury boat at all.  It was basic and had 4 crew members and 15 guests.  All backpackers from all over the world, Japan, England, Belgium, France, US, HOlland.  My mom and dad were the oldest and we were the only kids.  IT was really cool though because it was fun to meet them and see where they are traveling and what country they are from.  I met this nice lady from Amsterdam named Afke and she is teacher. She told me a lot of interesting things about places she has been and said if we make it to Amsterdam she will let me visit her class.  She speaks great English and said kids learn English there from Kindergarten.  HELLO Afke, I hope the rest of your trip is going well.imageimage
The boat had bunk beds and a small kitchen underneath.  You can sleep on the bunk  or outside on the foam mattress, which Sawyer and I did. We slept in between all the diving tanks.  A perfect spot for Sawyer and I.  Mom and Dad were “chumps” and slept inside.  I liked looking at the stars and I had a great sleep.imageIMG_0567We would go in the ocean from the back of the sailboat. Sometimes Dad would throw us over the side for fun.  The rest of the group on the boat were surprised how good swimmers we were and how we would often be the first in and the last out of the water at each stop we did.  Sawyer and I could do this all day.  The boat crew prepared food for us and we ate it on the deck.
Words to describe the GBR: massive, grand, undescribable, beautiful, amazing, wild, majestic, awesome, outstanding, colorful, big, extrodinary.  It leaves you saying …”wow”  This was one of the prettiest things I ever saw. All of coral grouped together were like  countries and cities, and the fish were the people. I hope to be back here one day.
Please email me at rileymeckley@yahoo.com

Northern Australia, Great Barrier Reef

Right now I am in Cairns.   It is a jumping off point for the Great Barrier Reef in Northern Australia.  It is very hot here, summer time.

Right near our Hotel is the Esplanade, paths located right next to the ocean. It has parks, bike and jogging paths, exercise equipment right on the path, snack stands, the ocean, mini water parks, rock climbing, volleyball, BMX parks, and swimming lagoons, ALL FOR FREE.

imageimage to the left is me rock climbing.  To the right Sawyer and I are hanging on Dad..Can you find us?

On our first day here we did some exercise. The parks over look the water and I can see a lot of ships going to bring people to the Great Barrier Reef, which is the towns main business.  While walking one day I saw a herd of pelicans on the beach.  They were 3 feet (one meter) tall  and had a huge beak.image

Another day we went in the lagoon pool.  It is the biggest pool I ever swam in, it wasn’t that deep,  mostly 3 or 4 feet and the deepest point was 5 feet.  I liked swimming and playing with my famlily in the pool.  The pool also had some sand in some parts and a lot of fountains.  The town has Christmas decorations up and we watched a “bike parade” with the bikes decorated for Christmas.

While walking around this town we heard a bunch of high pitched screeching.  I was like “what is that?” when I saw hundreds and hundreds of birds in a tree.  I saw that they were parrots and they were very colorfull.  They were made up of lots  of green and orange and also blue, red and yellow.  It was very noisy and I feel bad for the people that work in the shops next to this tree.

In another HUGE tree close by to the parrot tree, there were a zillion bats.  at first I thought,” wow that a lot of birds “but then my mom pointed out that they were bats!!  How you tell the difference is by the head and wings.look at these tIMG_1433hings.

They were everywhere. This one is just opening his wings, We watched them awake around 6pm and then by 6:30pm they are off flying about the town, the sky looks like a movie with them soaring overhead. we took a video and sent it to our class’s back home.

Unlike other birds, bat wings have a point in the middle of their wings,  and if you look at the head closely you will notice that there are 2 little pointy things and those are the bats ears.  I guess it was the bats feeding time because they all swarming around the sky of the town for as far as the eye could see.  They also made a lot of noise.  most of the bats I saw were between 1 foot and 18 inches.  One time my mom and I were walking past a tree, when a fruit came falling out of the tree.  I looked up  and saw a lot of bats hanging upsisde down and eating the fruit.  I felt like chicken little when he said,  “the sky is falling, the sky is falling!” if you saw the movie you would understand what I’m talking about.  if you never seen the movie well, you must be confused out of your mind.

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now the moment I’m sure everyone wants to here about…

THE GREAT BARRIER REEF

December 10 was my first day on the Great Barrier Reef.  My parents have been here before which is why they wanted us to see this.  We have 2 trips planned on the Reef but this  first one is for the entire day only.  I  was so excited as I boarded thee huge boat, until someone threw up.  My feeling of excitement changed to grossed out.  The sea was rough and the ride was over an hour and some people get sea sick. They were quickly escorted to the outside of the boat.

As soon as the boat was anchored on the reef  I got on my snorkel and they gave me flippers.  I jumped in and was instantly bombarded by a bunch of fish.  There was this one fish that came up to me and was 3 or 4 feet long!!!!! I am not exaggerating.  I found out that the fishes name was Wally and he was a Giant Maori wrasse.  this is a picture of me touching the fish. You have to click on the photo to open it up bigger to really see the details in this fish. The design and the color. I really like all the different patterns.

 

 

 

P1430837THE GIANT MAIORI WRASSE. P1430718This one is a BABY.  P1430764P1430657my mom took lots of underwater pictures and video’s.  We can all “duck dive” which means swimming underwater with your snorkels. Like this…..

P1430674Mom made sure we were both good swimmers. This is Mom next to a 700 year old Brain Coral.

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The giant Maiori Wrasse is by far the most beautiful fish I ever seen.  It has so many pretty patterns,  the fish didn’t feel at all as slimy as I would of thought.  It’s texture was similar to a sting rays back.  “Wally” (the boat named him) is one of my new favorite animals  (aside from the polar bear, brown bear, moose and monkey) he was such a nice peacefull, playful and awesome fish and  I must have touched him at least 100 times. Look on Sawyers post to see a really awesome picture of him with the fish!

FUN FACT– the Giant Maori Wrasse can grow up to 3 meters(9 feet) s Wally is just a baby.  when I get older I want to go to the same area and see” wally” fully grown at almost 10 feet long!!!!!! imagine that!P1430845The fish would keep coming by me and swimming all over me. Look at the other big fish in the background…..

below are some pictures taken underwater of the coral that I saw.

P1430752Sawyer looking at some “blue Elk, or Staghorn coral”P1430786P1430687

FUN FACTS:  the Great Barrier Reef is the only living organism on Earth which can be seen from outer space.  Australia’s great Barrier Reef stretches for 2000 kilometers along the Queensland coast (North East Australia).

Coral reefs have been present on Earth for over 240 million years.

The reef is made up of over 2500 individual coral reefs containing around 400 species of coral.

Stay tuned because in a few days I will post about another Great Barrier Reef excursion….

Feel free to email me at rileymeckley@yahoo.com

 

Sydney, Australia

 Australia is broken down into territories.  Sydney, is in New South Wales (South eastern part).

I spent 5 days in the city of Sydney and I love it.  I really like this city for its great harbor.  It is so big that since the time I got here I have never seen the ocean from the harbor (that’s pretty weird considering Australia is one big island). Here is how we spent our time…

FUN FACT– the Sydney harbor is the largest and deepest harbor in the world!

Mom took this photo from the window of our apartment. IMG_1343

From our room you can see lots and lots of sailboats.  Right now it is summer here so It is very warm.  Mostly like 75 and 80 degrees F.  Many different kinds of boats sail the harbor.

We walked through the Royal Botanical Gardens every day on our way to the harbor because it was close to our apartment we rented.  In the garden I saw so many different types of plants I cant even remember all of them.  The thing that stuck out to me the most was that I saw bamboo, pine trees, and banana trees all in the same area.  These are trees that don’t useliy grow in the same places as each other so it was odd that they were all in the same garden.  I also saw some cactuses, fern trees, colorful flowers and other plants and flowers. Huge aloe plants, ponds with eels and fish in them, fountains, statues, etc.  In the garden there was a lot of birds and wildlife.  There was this one really cool bird that I liked that had a super long beak and white feathers.  I was feeding one of these birds and a whole flock came over.  The birds were fun to watch them eat because they had to throw there head back to swallow the food…  below is a picture of me feeding the birds in the garden.IMG_1364

 

FUN FACT– I bet your wondering how Australia was settled by people?  Well, in the early days the Brittish would bring the really bad crimals here and leave them on Australia to suffer on their own, eventullay the prisoners had families and started a country and more people came over. 

IMG_1382IMG_1394We really liked the Royal Botanical Gardens a lot.

From the harbor I saw the first prison built, it is on an island.  I learned that the criminals would be strapped to rocks on the middle of the island and only fed bread and water once a week. If they escaped they could swim for shore.   Nothing like the prisons now that let you watch TV and have special meals.

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one of the garden paths lead to the famous…….

SYDNEY OPREA HOUSE.  We took this photo while walking in the Royal BOtanical Gardens.  It shows the Opera House and the Harbor Bridge.

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the Sydney Opera house is where shows are held.  Its like having 10 big theatres all in the same building.  My family and I  walked up to the Sydney opera house to check it out.  Tt had a lot of stairs to get up to it.  I didn’t mind but my mom was like ” holy stairs” (I personally don’t think there was that much stairs).  What I really like about the opera house was the structure,  the architexture,  the roof was so cool.  There are a bunch (10) of white points and it looks nice.

 FUN FACT-the Sydney Opera house roof was designed to look like sails on a sail boat.  I touched the opera house roof and saw that it was made up of little tiles.

We didn’t go in the Sydney Opera house because you could only go in if you were part of a tour and my famliy didn’t want to go on one because truefully, we would be bored.  and with our luck there were no shows playing at the time that interested us.  There were only adult shows (that Sawyer and I would hate), ballets and little kid shows(like the 3 little pigs) the Sydney opera house also has restaurants surrounding it.  I walked around the whole opera house and saw great views.  I also got myself an ice cream while I was there.

In my opinion the Sydney Oprea House is cool to look at,  but when you stare at it for more then 10 min it gets boring.

FUN FACT– the Sydney Oprea House was expected to cost 7 millon dollars to be built and ended up being 102 million dollars.  talk about over budget!

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THE TARANGA ZOO  :  I have both good and bad things to say about the zoo.

One day was spent by going to the Taranga zoo.  It was just like any other zoo except we had to take a ferry to get there.

Our first stop at the zoo was to see the bird show.  I saw all different types of Australian birds.  They would always fly really low over the croweds head and it almost touched me.  My favorite bird that I saw was the Australian  Eagle.  I saw two different kinds of Eagles and none of them were the American bald egal.  One was brown and the other black and their wingspand was taller then me! The bird show was the best thing about the zoo.

My favorite thing at the zoo was the chimpanzees.  My brother Sawyer liked them the best also.  Most of the chimpanzees were laying around or gromming each other.  They look and act like humans.  I saw one baby monkey swinging from a rope and eating a banana. Iit was funny and cute.

FUN FACT– Orang-utans are our closest relatives (they are a type of monkey)

In the zoo there was this little observatory tunnal that people could go into and look at the monkeys up close.  well, sawyer and I were in the tunnel looking through the glass at the chimpanzees.  One large chimp came running over, all of a sudden chimp must have got angry at us cause he broke into a rant, did a high picth scream, like a battle cry, and slapped the ground.   It was a cool, terrifying, shocking exsperince.

Another funny thing that happened in the zoo was when I was climbing next to the ring-tailed lemur.  Long story short there was a playground that me and Sawyer were playing on,  we saw a really cool looking junglegym thing right next to the playground only separated by a walkway and no barrier at all. It looked like part of the playground..  sawyer and I went on it for a minute only to be yelled at by a park ranger. she said”kids this is the lemur exibit not the playground.”  So anyway my dad cracked up and the whole famliy had a good laugh about it.  In my opinion the zoo designer should have put the lemur playground away from the kid playground so people like Sawyer and I  wouldn’t make that mistake.  At least I could say I was 2 feet a way from a lemur climbing in the habitat.

Aside from the things I mentioned this  zoo STINKS!!!!!!!!!!! and all zoos do .  I’m sure your wondering why I don’t like zoos?  Well, lately  after seeing animals in the wild at the Bear Mountain lodge in Alaska, and at conservation centers or natural habitats, it makes these zoos seem pathetic.  ALL the animals looked MISERABLE here!!!! We even heard a lady say how pathetic it was that they had only one hippo and the hippo’s are supposed to be together male and female. The 2 bears were in a small environment no bigger than my front yard.  How are they supposed to run and play?  The animals looked  bored , especially at this zoo.  I saw an elephant that was in a roped  area the size of a school carpet.  The elephant was practicly going crazy.  It was just rocking back and forth shaking from side to side.   There was this 20 foot long  python snake that was in a cage too small for its body!!! it couldn’t stretch itself out.  I saw lots of other animals like the kangaroos that are supposed to travel in herds (called mobs) yet there were only 2 kangeroos!!!! I could go on all day about the animals at the zoo and I’m not even an animal person.  We don’t even own any animals, not even a dog or cat.  We just made a pact that this is the LAST ZOO we will ever go to,  from now on I am only going to see the animals in the wild and in conservation centers or rehabilitation facilities where they are in there real habitats or getting re introduced to their habitats.  My family is done with zoo’s!!!! I keep thinking of that elephant that seriously was going crazy from being couped up.  The giraffes were in an area that was the size of a Gym floor, and it had no trees! NO trees?  Seriously. IT was all dirt and some man made tall statue with a pile of leaves on it.  Very disappointing.This giraffe is bored. All dirt, no trees and a small area.IMG_1373

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BIKE RIDING

The last day in Sydney my famliy and I rented bikes and rode around to places.   First we rode over the famous harbor bridge. It is right in front of  the Opera House and has great views.  The bridge we rode on is the one you might see on TV during New Year Eves.  The Harbor Bridge has a great firework show every year on New Years eve.IMG_1404IMG_1409

FUN FACT– IN 2016 Australia will be exactly 200 years old.  

We went all over Sydney.  each time we stopped I pretended I was a tour guide and told my family facts I learned about Sydney from my research. IMG_1416IMG_1407

FUN FACT– (this is kind of random but interesting) the worlds largest burger was made in Sydney and it weighed 95.5 kilograms.

As I have menchiond before I love the views of Sydney harbor and enjoyed riding past them.  I also rode past the IMAX  theater which is the biggest one in the world at 8 stories high.

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Sydney Australia was a great city.  I hope when I get older I will come back here again. Feel free to email me at rileymeckley@yahoo.com

 

 

North Island, New Zealand

IMG_1316The awesome caves with great formations. IMG_1268Redwood Forest of New Zealand.IMG_1284Geothermal area of the NOrth Island.

Stalactites, these are curtain stalactites from the middle of the caves. IMG_1327

We continued our journey around Rotorua and surrounding towns over several days. This area has a lot of geothermal activity and that means a bunch of geysers, smoke and hot mud boiling in the earth.  We visited a place with 5 kilometers of trails of cool sights where we spent the afternoon.  This place is called Wai-o-tapu.   As you walk around you see first hand what all the Earths minerals can do to the ground and water.  I saw water of all different colors, light green, dark green, blue, red, orange, yellow, brown and more. It was weird to see.  The water is extremely Hot, if you went in you would die.  I saw a dead floating duck in the water which proves how deadly the water is.  Sometimes the Earth’s pressure makes these huge holes in the ground and they sink down creating a huge hole. There are boiling mud pits and geyser holes. The smell is so bad at places, HORRIBLE, it smelled like rotten eggs and burning bacon and farts. The smell is due to the sulphuric acid and other minerals in the ground.  There was a lot of smoke too. This is me taking notes and reading the info on all 25 sites I saw.  A lot of elements in the periodic table were mentioned.IMG_1282The following info is taken from the website http://waiotapu.co.nz

Fun Fact: Sculptured out of volcanic activity and thousands of years in the making, Wai-O-Tapu is considered to be New Zealand’s most colourful and diverse geothermal sightseeing attraction. You are introduced to a uniquely different natural landscape – the key to what you see lies below the surface – one of the most extensive geothermal systems in New Zealand. Clearly defined tracks provide the visitor with the opportunity to enjoy the diversity of this area through a series of different walks.

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New Zealand Redwood Forest.

During our drives we took a quick stop at New Zealand redwood forest. bet you didn’t know that New Zealand has redwoods as well as California? WE didn’t.  These Redwoods were not as big as the California Redwood’s because they were planted in 1901 so they are only about 114 years old.  BUT, scientists know these grow faster because of the soil here, so maybe one day these trees will be bigger than the ones in California. They were still neat to look at. ONe day I want to visit the one’s in California.IMG_1264IMG_1268

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ANother day was spent at the Waitomo Caves. We did 3 caves and I am a cave expert now.  In the first cave I saw tons and tons of Stalactites and Stalacmites. All different sizes from huge to small. We took lots of photos. The guide told us that a stalactite as big as my finger took over 10 years to grow.  He also told us that when a stalactite and stalacmite meet up it is called a column ( I already knew this though).

FUN FACT: a stalactite is a tapering structure hanging like an icicle from the roof of a cave, formed of calcium salts deposited by dripping water. A stalagmite is an upward-growing mound of mineral deposits that have precipitated from water dripping onto the floor of a cave

IMG_1312IMG_1313THese are pictures of the Stalactites growing from the ceiling of the cave. At one point they turned off all the lights in the cave and it was so dark.  Couldn’t see my hand in front of my face.  It was natural darkness.  It must have been hard for the early explorers carrying lanters to discover these caves.  The caves are long and some had high ceilings and some low ceilings.  We spent the entire day visiting caves.IMG_1316

IMG_1327These formations were really cool. They are called Curtain Stalactites because they look like a curtain hanging.  The way the water drips down is what causes the formation.

Another cave we saw featured GLOW WORMS.  They are tiny worms that live in certain caves and produce a small blue light.  They are about 2 inches long .This was the only cave we couldn’t take photos in so these are from the internet.

This is the glo worm, notice the small strings hanging down, those are threads that the worm produces to catch food, kind of like a spider web. If a bug is flying around the cave and gets caught it makes a tasty dinner for the glow worm.   

You may notice that the droplets on the threads, that is actually the glow worms mucus. Discusting but true. This is what the Glow worms look like in the cave, taken from internet. There are over 30,000 of them in one cave.

I thought the glow worms looked like a bunch of constalations.

FUN FACT: The Fire Fly also produces light, just like the glow worms, but the glow worms light stays on longer.

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ZORBING ***You go in  a huge plastic ball and roll down a hill. There is water inside the ZORB ball.  I loved bouncing around the ball, when the people rolled you down you were trapped.  Two times Sawyer and I went together in one ball, at one point I was on Sawyers head. Two times I went by myself, we went either on a straight track or a curvey track, I am in this ball rolling down.I laughed the whole way down. This is me in the ball trying to stand up. This was the most fun thing I did in New ZealandIMG_1093IMG_1073

NEW ZEALAND FUN FACTS:

*The movies “Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” were all filmed here.

*New Zealand was the first country to give women the right to vote in 1893.

*The term “kiwi” is used as a nickname for New Zealanders.

*In New Zealand they drive on the left side of the road and car steering wheels are on the right side of the car.

*There are absolutely NO SNAKES in all of New Zealand and no big land mammals.

I can be reached at rileymeckley@yahoo.com if you have any questions. Thanks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rotorua , New Zealand

IMG_1270Lots of Sheep .IMG_1176Hi everyone, sorry I haven’t written in a while but I have been very busy here in New Zealand.  We are driving around the North Island and it is very green and beautiful.  This is a nice way to see the country, so many rolling green hills (that we learned  used to be forest) There are a lot of cows in this Island, I mean thousands of thousands of cows . A farm would have thousands and they roam the rolling hills and graze.

FUN FACT: This Island produces all the dairy for all of NZThey don’t have to import.

Also SHEEP, as far as the eye can see.  I  noticed some were already shaved and others still had their wool on them. IMG_1273I love watching the sheep. FUN FACT: NZ has 4 million people and 30 million sheep.. Most are on the South Island.

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This is what I have been up to the last few days.

First up….ZIPLINING in the Forest restoration area of the Mamaku Forest in Rotorua. (the only native forest in NZ still intact because all the other forests were either cut down or destroyed). IMG_1196

It’s hard to tell if I am screaming or smiling in this picture. I have been looking forward to this, we ziplined over a forest with fern trees, redwood trees and others.  Our tour went through 6 zip lines and some bridges.IMG_1138On the first zip line I was a little scared but by the end I was doing flips.   See…..this is me! It felt like I was flying through the forest. I  liked feeling like I was a bird.  My parents chose this Canopy Tour because of  the Forest Restoration Project they are involved in.  NZ native bird life has been under threat. The Forest Project has installed 1000 humane traps to control the possum, sloat, rat and rodent population that is killing the birds that are found no where else in the world. part of our tour was learning and seeing all the different kinds of traps and what they catch.  this picture shows what they caught in 5 days. IMG_1199

Over 60 per day in the small area we were in which had only 50 traps (so some caught 2 rodents). It was very informative , the guides were excellent in explaining how important this is. To learn more go to.  http://forestrestoration.co.nz

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Many towns and cities have Maori names to them. Even most street signs are Maori named.

FUN FACT: Maori are the indiginous Polynesian people of New Zealand. We visited towns called Rotorua, Waitomo, Wai-o-Tapu, Waikato, Taupo, etc.

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This area of NZ is full of learning activities.

THE KIWI BIRD.  IMG_1097The KIWI is a BIRD.  Not a fruit. That is called Kiwifruit.  DONT MIX them up! The Kiwi is a flightless bird with no wings and a long skinny beak with nostrils on the end of it. It is nocturnal and comes out at night foraging for food.  IT is threatned by so many predators that it is in danger.  The KIWI bird is native to only NZ and they don’t want to lost this bird. Many conservation projects are trying to protect it (including the trapping done in the forest I zip lined through).  In order to see the KIWI bird we had to come back to this place at night, 9:30 to see it . We did. It was small, and fast running back and forth. Once one of the birds came 3 feet from me, I saw its beak perfectly.  No pictures are allowed.  This is from the internet…

Isn’t he cute.  The ones that I saw were about the size of a chickens. they live in hollow trees or burrow in the forest.  Now on the other hand, ,,,Kiwi fruit is delicious and grows everywhere and is sold at farm stands very cheap. We each eat 2 every day. YUM. (The bird and the fruit are not related, don’t mix them up)

I can be reached at rileymeckley@yahoo.com

AUCKLAND, New Zealand

Our next stop after the French Polyneshia was the country New Zealand.  I was sad to leave Bora-Bora and all the other islands but I am looking forward to a new country.  The plane ride to New Zealand was an overnight flight.  In  the airport I waited 7 hours for the flight.  you may think that is boring (and it is) but I made the time pass. and when your traveling this is the type of things you have to expect.  Its not all luxury.  When I was in the airport I suddenly heard a crowd of screaming people.  I was thinking “what on earth is goiong on” and my famliy and I went over to see what was happening.  . The person who got off the flight must of been a BIG celebarty because all the people went Crazy.  They were huddled around the kid taking pictures.  I had no idea what was going on but I saw a camera crew taking pictures of the kid.  I noticed he was holding 2 Really Big Medals and his shirt said “2015 World Champion.” There was a camera crew and  there was drummers and dancers doing traditional Tahitian dances and it was very loud.

After crossing the International Date line we arrived in New Zealand.  We lost a day of our lives when crossing the International Date line.  We left on a Friday and arrived on a Sunday (even though the flight was 6 hours).  basicly I had a day taken out of my life that I am never going to get back again.  its confusing but when I get to Europe it will all even out

Our hotel we stayed at was awesome.  it was a 2 bedroom apartment.  I have to complament my mom on such great booking skills.

New Zealand is separated by the North and South Island. See the map above. We went to Auckland. A harbor city with harbors on both sides of the city.  Boating and Sailing are very popular.  It is summer here right now yet it is still chilly.  like 60 degrees.

FUN FACTS about Auckland. One in three people in Auckland own a boat. Auckland is one of the most affordable cities in the world. More people live in Auckland than in all of the South Island of New Zealand.

The next day my famliy and I went to Maritime Museum.  It was educational and I learned a lot about New Zealands early settelers, early boats, modern yachts and the big yacht race  called the “Americas Cup”  and Captain Cooks voyages.  New Zealand was the last land mass to be populated by humans (with the exception of the Polar regions) on the map. Captain Cook was the first to document and chart New Zealand.  I purchased a book on Captain Cook and it has stories about all his voyages to everywhere he went. I cant wait to read it. Captain James Cook was an amazing sailor, navigator, surveyor and sea man.

IMG_1061an early wooden boat used by south pacific natives to get to New Zealand. These are turtle shells the people used for many different reasons, for survival and for weapons. IMG_1064

As I was in Auckland geuss what  I saw… a Christmas parade!!!!!!! if you know me well you would know how excited I was to see this because of my love for Christmas spirit. Sadly I only saw the last part.  We walked around the city and saw the sky tower. 

FUN FACT- the sky tower is the largest building in the southern hemisphere. sure the sky tower was definitely big but growing up in NY I see bigger buildings all the time.  I am a little bit surprised that’s its the biggest one in the whole southern half of the earth. 

image I also walked through the University of Auckland.  Mom said it is a world renown University ,the campus was beautiful. 

Since we had this nice apartment so convenient to everything we walked the entire city over the next few days.  To the supermarket, park, Sky tower (to check out the Casino that is in there), the Harbor and Museum. We ate in our apartment mostly, although, according to my parents the prices in Auckland were very reasonable and the US dollar when exchanged for New Zealand dollar does very well.  One New Zealand Dollar equals .65 cents US. So it is favorable for us. IMG_1260The money is colorful and shows native birds on one side of each bill. Our favorite bill is the $5 because it has a photo of “Sir Edmond Hilary.”

FUN FACT: Sir Edmund Hillary was the first man to climb Mount Everest (in Nepal) and was a very famous New Zealander from Auckland.  He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth because he went to Nepal with a British Climbing Team of 8 men. Only Hillary and his guide made it to the top.  It was a very big deal in 1953. 

We read about him and looked up info on his successful climb in 1953 with his guide, Tenzing Norgay. The $1 coin has a Kiwi Bird on it and the .50 cents coin has Captain Cook’s ship “the Endeavor” on it. seeing all these different money makes the American dollar seem SO boring.

FUN FACT– the US is the only country in which the money is the same size and color. how uninteresting is that!

On TV we watched a “cricket match.” No not the insect but a sport called Cricket. We watched and learned somewhat how to play. I would love to try it out sometime.  The big sport here in RUGBY. Rugby is the countries National Sport. There are a few NZ professional teams but the NZ ALL BLACKS are the Nation’s pride.  That is why in the Olympics you see all the athletes representing New Zealand are wearing black.

They are professional players, celebrities, and every kid who plays knows their names, positions, stats, etc.  Just like some USA kids follow baseball or basketball or soccer. picture got from the internet. 
FUN FACT:  The New Zealand “ALL BLACKS” professional Rugby team won the Rugby world cup in 2015 and 2011.  The only team to win 2 consecutive World Cup’s ever!   All of NZ is huge supporter of the ALL BLACKS rugby team.  Another Fun Fact:  My Dad, Tom, played Rugby in College on a club team.

We will be traveling around the North Island for the next 4 days. So keep checking my blog and I will update soon.  I miss all my friends and famliy back home. I can be reached at rileymeckley@yahoo.com