So the next few blog posts are coming out waaaaay later than they were meant to have been published, but that’s life. Since some of the material has already been written I’m going to keep up the tenses and wording, so just imagine you’re reading this a month ago when it happened.
We’re almost there. Classes are finished and finals have already begun. I’m either in denial or just so preoccupied with my schedule and routines here, but it hasn’t registered that I’m almost done. It’s a strange thought that I’ve spent the past few months building up a life here in Melbourne, yet all of my routines will dissolve once I board that airplane home. But that is for another day.
Before the two weeks of finals there is study week, much like Dead Week at ISU, but instead we don’t have classes. Many of my flatmates went home for the week and many of my exchange friends took the opportunity to travel more. I took the lazier option and stayed in Melbourne to finish some last projects and see the city. Much of last week was spent wandering back in forth in the library trying to find an empty seat (which were few and far between). Wednesday I took a trip into the city to go to the Queen Victoria Night Market which had just started up again for the Winter season. Unfortunately by the time I arrived the lines were long and the prospect of getting food there was waning. I did meet up with some other exchange acquaintances and friends and the night turned out to be a good one. Melbourne is amazing in its creativity of bars and alleyways. That night we explored 3 bars I had never been to, including Sister Bella – a randomly decorated little bar down a laneway, the entrance hidden next to dumpsters and graffiti of a topless Kim and Khloe. It’s a fun game exploring the famous laneways of Melbourne, never knowing if you’ll get a cute shop or just a couple of trash bags.
Although it was still “study week”, Thursday was a gloriously sunny day and I could not waste the opportunity to get out and about. There was still so much more of Melbourne to see so I wanted to expand my horizons a bit and travel north to the Royal Exhibition Building in the Carlton Gardens. The Royal Exhibition Building is the only surviving Great Hall from the 19th century World Fair exhibitions and when it was built it was the tallest building in Australia. The surrounding Carlton Gardens were being re-landscaped to how they looked back during the World Fair. Near the Exhibition Building was the Melbourne Museum, a multi-functional museum of Natural History, Aboriginal Culture, and Australian History featuring an example of a living forest in the arboretum heart of the museum. I was glad I was alone because I spent a good 4 hours exploring the museum and having a grand ol’ time. By the time I was done my feet were aching and my stomach growling so I decided to head West a few blocks to Lygon St. When Italian immigrants settled in Melbourne they did so in high concentration in the suburb of Carlton, especially along Lygon St. Today it is chock full of Italian and other “ethnic” restaurants (and gelaterias). I grabbed myself an authentic cappuccino.
The weekend after study week threatened to be cold and rainy, but ended up just being cold and cloudy. Perfect conditions for a day trip to the Grampians National Park (Gariwerd in the regional Aboriginal language). After a long three hour trip to get there, the views were breathtaking. The landscape spread out before you into a hazy horizon and slowly moving clouds tugged splotchy shadows over the plains and ridges. I was told that the landscape was part of Hayao Miyazaki’s inspiration for his animated masterpiece Princess Mononoke. After soaking in the dramatic views for as long as I was allowed we descended the winding way to Mackenzie falls, snapped a few shots, and ascended (thighs screaming) back to the bus. On the way out of the Grampians we stopped by the town of Hall’s Gap to see some kangaroos scrounging around for food and permitting a selfie in return.
Pizza with friends 2.0. We made a pact to not get lazy and to keep exploring more of Melbourne. I think we were all trying to make the most of our time before going home.
Alright, that’s enough for this week. Wish me luck with finals.
This week’s organism is small but packs a punch. Meet the Irukandji – the smallest and most venomous box jellyfish.
Irukandji jellyfish (most famously Carukia barnesi and Malo kingi) are the smallest, most venomous box jellyfish in the world. The Irukandji people of Northern Queensland suffered an ‘illness’ which resulted in severe bodily pains, muscle cramps, nausea, headaches, profuse sweating, etc. This was first documented in 1952 by Hugo Flecker and it became known as ‘Irukandji syndrome’. In 1964, Dr. Jack Barnes identified stings from this jellyfish and hypothesized it was causing Irukandji syndrome. To prove he was right, he volunteered himself to be stung – he was right. Irukandji jellyfish are tiny, a mature C. barnesi is only between 12mm-30mm in length. However, it takes only a small amount of venom from the nematocysts of the jellyfish to cause Irukandji syndrome. Whereas other jellyfish only have stinging cells on they’re tentacles, the Irukandji also has stinging cells on its bell. The sting of the jellyfish is not that painful at first, but within 30 minutes becomes excruciating, some patients needing morphine drips. The jellyfish annually sends 50-100 people to the hospital each year but when properly treated the stings are not fatal.