This post is so long overdue its completely ridiculous. Get ready ya'all its a doozie!

In the spring of 2009 I was given the amazing opportunity to travel to Australia as part of the Rotary International Group Study Exchange (GSE) for our district 5060 to district 9550 Northern Australia. It was a long time dream of mine to take off to the land of OZ. But never, ever did I think it would happen like this! GSE was an life experience that was bigger and better than I could have ever imagined. Honest!  We travelled from Darwin to Katherine, then through the Northern Outback areas of  Tennant Creek all the way to Charters Towers, to Townsville, Magnetic Island, Innisfail, Ingham, Misson Beach, Tully, Green Island, into the tablelands of Mareeba, Atherton, Port Douglas, finally Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef! PHEW! And we made a fancy little blog to keep our family and friend back home in the loop! The journey took us 5 weeks and introduced me to 5 important people that would become my family over those 5 weeks. We laughed together over sleepless nights on the bus, first time cuddles with koalas, white water rafting trips, monsoon thunderstorms, kangaroo steaks and crocodile sausage, yacht sailing, snorkeling and scuba diving. The quality of the experience was top-notch as during our time there we job shadowed and shared with our professional colleagues from down under new ideas.  We were fortunate to be paired up with host families and we were able to experience Aussie day to day life which was so enriching and so unlike anything I have ever done before!  Mucho thanks to facebook, and email I still keep in touch with some of my "parents" and "siblings" that I really connected with during my stay. how cool is that?

SO here is the deal!  If you are a young and FUN professional (any kind will do) between the ages of 25 and 40, you LOVE to need to do this. Every year there is an exchange that takes place between pretty much every Rotary District.  I applied on a whim, thinking "no way am I ever going to get in on this" I was probably the youngest person who showed up! do it do it do it. Rotary Group Study Exchange.  You will not be sorry and its not going to cost you a thing!

After GSE wrapped up in Cairns my best gal Rachelle flew in from Saskatoon. (dont you love a friend who jumps on board with you on your crazy adventures?). The two of us backpacked it down the eastern coast of Australia along the sunshine coast and the gold coast. We sailed the Whitsunday Islands, caught a couple waves in the Town of 1770, soaked up rays in Surfers Paradise, flew over the countryside in a hot air ballooooon, biked around Byron Bay in the wee early hours to see the sunrise at the famous lighthouse, ate a whole lot of seafood, and walked a bazillion steps around Sydney and Bondi Beach.  Many of these gorgeous places we visited have been affected by the massive flooding in Aus in one way or another, all my thoughts and prayers go out to the families and travelers navigating the chaos. Hoping for flood waters to regress and recovery to start soon.

The photos are a smattering of highlights from the trip! enjoy!

"live in sunshine, swim in the sea, drink the wild air" - Ralph Waldo Emerson