Our students started last week with their directed research projects. My group, the group of social science students, headed off to Mission Beach, which is about two hours south of Cairns. This was the first time all semester that any of us had truly been at a beach; the waves weren’t large, but for the first time, there were indeed waves. The ocean was a beautiful color, and as it pounded the sand, I felt very much at peace. The coast of Australia is a beautiful thing to behold; the coast juts out into the sea, and while you might be sitting on part, another part is right out in front of you, full of beautiful trees and mountains.
We all slept in our tents (almost under the stars!), glad for the shelter when the rain began that night. The days have been increasingly warm and humid, and it started culminating in rainstorms last week. The next day, as our students worked to sort out their respective research questions, we ducked in and out of shelter as the rain continued. During a respite from work, we headed to the information centre at Mission Beach, where we learned more about cassowaries, and the students began collecting information. At the end of the day, we stopped at Lacey Creek so we could search for cassowaries ourselves. Unfortunately, we still haven’t seen one (not for lack of trying!), but the creek walk was very beautiful, and getting to explore the rainforest without urgency was very nice.
The rest of the week was spent in and out of the Centre. The students in my directed research project headed to Malanda on Wednesday to confer with one of our stakeholders who is well connected in the community. She gave the students some good contacts, and also helped the students cement their questions. It rained steadily the whole day, and being inside drinking tea was a very nice use of our day.
Thursday also provided a nice respite; early in the morning, I drove down to Smithfield, which is right outside Cairns, and is home to one of the James Cook University campuses. My students spent the day in the air-conditioned library, doing research. I used the opportunity to read for pleasure and work on my (increasingly tedious) graduate school applications. I keep waiting for the day to come when I can finally say that I’m all done with grad school applications, but alas, that day is not yet today.
The rest of the week allowed me to provide support to my students when they needed, but also offered me lots of time to think. Saturday saw us driving to Malanda, Yungaburra, and Atherton so the students could collect information brochures and other information from towns on the Tablelands. In between running around, there was a lot of quiet time during which I could work or read, and which allowed me time to think about the decisions ahead of me. It has continued to be warm and humid in the past couple of days, and so it’s been nice to sit quietly, even if it does mean that I’m sitting very quietly in my office. It seems that the seasons have turned, and summer is indeed on it’s way. It’s much as I imagined it, which is incredibly humid and hot, and then strangely rain later in the day. It seems that it will continue in this vein, and it’s a new feeling to adjust to.