Australia Sustainable Food, Environment, & Social Systems 2017

Blog site for the 2017 MSU study abroad program.

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June 5th Our Last Day in Sydney

Today we started our last day in Sydney off early at they Sydney Fish Market. We got a tour of a live auction selling thousands of species to retailers, whole salers, and small businesses. Throughout the market we got to see and learn about many weird unknown fish from all over Australia, New Zealand, and elsewhere. By running three Dutch auctions at once with impressive technology, the market sells massive quantities fast, meaning less food waste and fresher fish for buyers. In order to protect their business the quality control team at the fish market and the fisherman watch closely at fish populations and regulations around where, when, how, what size, and how many fish can be caught to ensure healthy sustainable populations. A portion of every sale goes to further research and ocean conservation.         After the market, we all had some free time where people took surf lessons, visited Bondi Beach, did the Sydney Harbour Bridge climb, bought souvenirs, and explored more of the city. Since we board the flight home early tomorrow morning, at the end of the day we all met up for a delicious group dinner on Darling Harbor to celebrate the end of an amazing trip through Australia!


Kate Wigent and Chris Merchant

Madi Heath with our tour guide and a 5kg King Crab at the Sydney Fish Market

Group Photo after our delicious dinner in front of the Vivid light show at Darling Harbour


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Day 25- Sydney Olympic Park 

Our first group picture featuring some dysfunctional flag holding.

We finally figured out the flag situation.

We started out the day by taking the train out of the city to the Sydney Olympic Park! We had a short talk about the park and why its features make it more sustainable than other Olympic parks. Then, we rented bikes from Bike Hires @ Sydney Olympic Park ( and set out to explore the park and surrounding area. We got to see the brick pit which collects runoff and rainwater and acts as a protected frog habitat, the mangroves that buffer pollution from mining and shipping in the past, and the cauldron where all the medalists names are displayed from the games in 2000. To end the day, a few of us went swimming in the Olympic pool before heading back into the city to go our separate ways for the night.

The cauldron with the medalists names.

The Olympic pool

-Kit and Alyssa K.

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Day 24: Sydney Scavenger Hunt

G’day Mates!

We started out our first full day in Sydney with a photo scavenger hunt through the city! We divided into 4 teams and had a little friendly competition. The hunt brought us to:
-the world’s most expensive opal ($2.5 million)
-2 kangaroos (Nate and Des)
-the beautiful Botanical Gardens
-The Sydney Sealife Aquarium
And so much more!


This photo is of Nate, Alex V, and Alex D in front of the Sydney Opera House. Nate and Alex D are showing off their kangaroo outfits!

Our adventures ended at the Sydney Opera House where group 1 (Kit, Cary, Lindsey, Jenna, Tatum, Nadia) was awarded the win by a 110 point margin. During the hunt, we were not only exposed to many of Sydney’s attractions but also to some of their sustainable practices. For example, many of the trees in the city are covered with semi-permeable membranes that help water the tree and hold water for the future. It also acts as a filtration system!

After, we headed to the Australian Hotel ( for some exotic pizza topped with Emu, Kangaroo, and Crocadile!

To end the day, we celebrated Brooke’s 20th birthday at the Scubar! It was the perfect occasion to bring the whole group together for our “last hoorah” on this trip!


The group stands in front of the Sydney Opera House with Luke and Dana after the scavenger hunt.

Sydney out.

-Alex V and Brooke

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Day 22: Yungaburra

G’day everyone!

After breakfast at On the Wallaby, we headed to our first stop of the day: Gallo Dairyland. Gallo is a dairy farm that produces chocolates and dairy products for the Tablelands region. Our presenter Linda spoke about the history of the farm and its operations. They milk 350 cows twice a day, which equates to 20 L of milk per cow per day. Some of their sustainable practices include scraping the animal food lot into the manure pit to use as fertilizer and using rainwater to clean the factory. We then got to sample chocolate and a few of Gallo’s 15 types of cheese – yum!

IMG_1381Buying our own cheese and chocolate after the presentation


From Gallo we headed to Curtain Fig National Park, where our tour guide/bus driver Roger gave us a small talk about the magnificent Curtain Fig Tree. The tree’s roots hang down over the branches, giving it the appearance of having curtains. It and the surrounding mabi forest provide important habitat for wildlife and help to support biodiversity in the Tablelands.

IMG_1396The Curtain Fig Tree, one of the most frequently visited sites within the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area

Our next stop was a “surprise” not listed on the itinerary – the breathtaking Millaa Millaa Falls! Some of the group braved the cool water for a chance to swim in the same location that was featured in an Herbal Essence commercial. The rest of us stayed dry and took photographs or simply enjoyed the natural beauty.


Some of the gang enjoying the refreshing water (including one of our day leaders!)

We ended the sight-seeing portion of our day with lunch at Lake Eacham, a volcanic lake nestled in the rainforest. There are many opportunities for wildlife-viewing, walking, and swimming here, which we took full advantage of.

IMG_1415The stunningly blue water of Lake Eacham

After returning to the hostel, the rest of the afternoon was spent taking our second exam, in which we responded to three questions based on what we’ve learned about sustainability and all of our experiences on the trip thus far. The second half of the group then got to unwind with an evening canoe trip on Lake Tinaroo, and we all rejoined in the evening to play games and celebrate our last night in Yungaburra before leaving for Sydney in the morning.


-Lindsay and Collin


For more information on some of our stops today:



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Day 21

Hello loyal readers! 
Today on Day 21, we had a great time adventuring to a few agricultural businesses in the Tablelands of Australia. 

We started our morning at On the Wallaby Lodge in Yungaburra, and first drove to Jaques Coffee Plantation where we watched an informational video about how coffee is produced and how the Jaques family has done it. They incorporate zero waste, as the shell (the berry) of the coffee bean can be recycled into mulch and put on the growing plants. We were then able to sample some delicious coffee! 

Coffee plants at Jaques Coffee Plantation 

Sampling the product! 

Our second stop of the day was to Mt Uncle and Natural Evolution, where we met Rob. Rob produces gluten free banana flour from green bananas that is stocked with natural fiber! We learned about the process of growing bananas and developing it into flour, and that bananas are one of the toughest plants on earth. We were given the opportunity to try gullfinger, ceyan, and blue java bananas, and even made a little green friend! (Don’t worry – frogs are extremely susceptible to chemicals, so his presence is good news!) 

Our green friend amongst the bananas! 

Group photo with Rob!

The third and final stop of the day was to Nerada Tea Plantation. Here, we learned about the way tea is produced from plant to cup, and the practices Nerada has implemented to help the environment, such as no irrigation – depending on the rainfall during the wet season, and using no pesticides, as tea has no natural pests. We were also able to see tree kangaroos as they too live on the plantation, and try some tea and scones! 

Nerada tea processing plant

The last event of the day was an evening canoe for half of the group. They were able to see some animals on Lake Tinaroo, such as wallabies and lizards! The other half will have the awesome experience tomorrow. 

After tonight, we have one more night in Yungaburra and then onto Sydney!

Thanks for reading!

Anneka and Lindsay

Check these links to find out more:

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Day 19: Great Barrier Reef

Today was the adventure everyone had been waiting for. The group headed out bright and early for the Great Barrier Reef! We enjoyed a two hour boat ride out to our first site where we got off to snorkel through the Reef. A majority of the group also took the opportunity to scuba dive! After a few hours in the water everyone got back on board for a delicious Mediterranean lunch as we made our way to the second site. Many people agree that the second site we experienced was even more incredible than the first. There were sightings of sea turtles and small sharks, and a jelly fish that unfortunately stung Des. After everyone got their last bit of swimming in, the boat took off for land and we enjoyed a presentation about all of the diverse species that inhabit the Great Barrier Reef. Simon, one of the crew members, gave us information about the coral and how it eats, grows, and reproduces, but also how it is dying. We were able to actually see the dead coral of the Reef and it really opened some people’s eyes to the destruction of nature. Altogether it was a beautiful and unforgettable day full of sun and fun in an incredibly unique place.

Fresh off the boat after an amazing experience at the Great Barrier Reef!

Fresh off the boat after an amazing experience at the Great Barrier Reef!