Cairns: The Great Barrier Reef

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After visiting the outback, my wanderlust only grew more ravenous. I was so ready to see and experience more of Australia. What better way to do that then to travel up and down the East Coast? The East Coast is made for a backpacker because resources are easily available. You get to hop on and off buses, find hostels on every corner, and constantly find opportunities to make friends with other travelers.

My first stop on the East Coast was Cairns. The morning after my arrival, I took a quiet moment to think about and accept what I had experienced so far. The Cairns Botanic Garden was the perfect place to go for a walk and clear my mind.

Cairns Botanic Garden
Cairns Botanic Garden

I felt very overwhelmed with emotion when I booked the boat trip to visit the Great Barrier Reef. Even while it was happening, I couldn’t believe I was about to see one of the seven natural wonders of the world. It is the worlds largest coral reef! I remember being nine years old and seeing the Great Barrier Reef in the animation film Finding Nemo. The sheer amount of diverse sea life in one location was unfathomable to nine-year old me.

When I jumped in the cold ocean, I was immediately consumed by the beauty of the reef and marine life. As I swam, I lost track of the whirling underwater clouds of colorful fish. I did accidentally swim within a couple of feet of a barracuda. I remember it stopped dead in its tracks, looked me in the eyes, and swim away uninterested. That moment was my favorite part of this adventure.

The Cairns Art Gallery displayed strong messages through visual artistic works that openly protest inequality. I found myself wondering if this message mirrored the conscience of the community.

Mary Sibande’s sculpture really spoke to me because of how powerful it is. It shows an African housekeeper refusing to become an item. The symbolic couch embodies passiveness and willing to stay with the status quo even if it is injust. The woman seems to be running from the fate that has been so clearly placed before her.

“I decline. I refuse to recline.” by Mary Sibande

Athri-Patra Ruga’s piece embodies white women within a patriarchal society. White women are seen as precious objects within these societies and yet there is also a dark side to this role. Such women carry the sins of white supremacy as poisonous wounds ready to burst, which are reflected in the puss filled balloons. Therefore, she performs the cathartic work of walking and weeping. Consequentially, the balloons rupture violently. I love this piece because it speaks the truth in an interesting way.

The Future White Woman of Azania by Athi-Patra Ruga

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