G’day mates! This is Maya, reporting for the first part of today’s adventure. Our day began when we took a bus ride and arrived at Taroona Primary School, set atop a gorgeous hill overlooking the sparkling bay. There, we met with our Tassie buddies that we had been e-mailing prior to the trip…
Video courtesy of Tourism Australia
In a classroom, we listened to the principal of the school, Grant Robinson, the teacher who taught the class of our friends, Carol Rue, and the one and only Boyd Matson of NGS. They talked about the success of our collaboration and how great it was that we finally met, and everyone agreed. We gave the Tassie school kids state quarters, postcards from where we’re from, sea glass, and other souvenirs.
After the kids got all their goodies we went outside to play. Before we ran wild through the playground, we experienced a special moment. All of us watched the many hands that patted the soil around the tree, closing the gap, encasing the plant in the ground.
At that moment I think we all felt as though we were united as one team. How could a small tree possibly cause all our hearts to swell with emotion? I bet it’s because we Americans worked side-by-side with the Tasmanian students to raise more than $10,000 for the Tasmanian devil. (We raised money to buy plants that were used to create new habitats for Tasmanian devils.) We made it happen, even though we had never met and lived on different sides of the Equator, we proved that a kid with hopes and dreams and passion could make difference.
There was a really long slide in the playground. All of us got in line to whoosh down the slide and any remaining shyness between the two groups of students disappeared. Errol, a Tassie devil mascot, joined in the fun. We all enjoyed a yummy lunch together and then it was time to say goodbye. We boarded the bus, sad to leave our new friends, but comforted by the idea that we’d always stay in touch.
Hi peeps! This is Kat blogging for the second part of the day. So, after lunch we left on an hour-long bus ride up to Port Arthur. On the way we stopped at a wonderful lookout to take some photos and stretch our legs. The pullover gave us a view of a beautiful, crystal blue bay. Up on the ledge on which we stood there were what must have been at least two dozen types of trees and bushes. From the lookout, you could also start to see Port Arthur. We hopped back on the bus and we were back on track toward the prison at Port Arthur.
When we got to our destination, we split up into teams of three to five people in order to take part in a scavenger hunt to learn more about the history of Port Arthur. We went to the hospital, church, military base, lookout tower, penitentiary (a place with holding cells), separate prison, and the visitor center, where we got to learn more about the individual convicts. The scavenger hunt combined healthy competition and lots of interesting history. My team ended up in second-to-last place, but we still had a blast!
When it got dark, we went on a ghost hunt! I was really skeptical about paranormal activity, but this activity really opened my eyes. The stories told by our guide were absolutely amazing! There are two theories about why Port Arthur is haunted. First, all of the people who died there were buried on an island right across from Port Arthur. Second, it is thought to be haunted due to all of the suffering the convicts went through.
When it got really dark, I took a lamp-light picture of our guide. Either the lighting was weird, or I got a photo of a ghost because next to her head, there is an unexplained blur of a face. Everything is so different at night. After dark, Port Arthur became eerie and scary beyond belief! And on our way back to the starting point, Abbie and I saw a ghostly figure walking up on the roof of the penitentiary!
When we returned to the visitor center everyone shared their stories of paranormal activity. Alex had even caught a ghost on camera who was looking through a window and gripping the bars tightly. The picture was horrifying! According to Maya, Eric, who works for Purell, took a photo of a light. When he zoomed in on it, it looked like an angry, transluscent man. All in all, the experience really changed my mind about paranormal activity. Everyone on the team really had a blast!