Australia: Blue Mountains National Park

Submitted by Harrison Crum on the 2020 spring semester study abroad program in Sydney, Australia…

Australia is known for its unique landscapes and wildlife that can’t be found anywhere else in the world. This week, my program had the opportunity to travel to the Blue Mountains National Park here in the state of New South Wales. About an hour drive outside the city of Sydney, we hiked in the Katoomba area, home of the iconic Three Sisters rock formation. We made our way down to one of the sisters as well as down the rest of the mountain. Although the heat was unusually high even for Australian standards, the views were absolutely amazing and we were able to see some of the wildlife. Australia is certainly unique when it comes to its wildlife, as it is home to many unusually large, as well as venomous animals, including the most venomous spider in the world: the funnel-web spider. As we hiked down the mountain, our tour guide pointed out the home of a female funnel-web spider just along the side of the trail. As someone with strong arachnophobia, coming within inches of this nest was both frightening and exhilarating. I’ve been told that studying abroad is a time of trying new things and challenging yourself to step outside your comfort zone. For me, there was no better way to do so than by approaching the home of the creature that strikes the most fear in me. Nowhere else in the world would I be able to do this. These spiders are nocturnal, so I was not able to see her. Yet, I am still incredibly thankful for this experience as even coming close to a sleeping spider is a step outside my comfort zone. Australia holds countless opportunities to explore both geographically and personally, both of which I intend to do over the next ten weeks of my program.

The view of the Three Sisters Rock formation at the Blue Mountains National Park
The funnel-web spider nest we saw during our hike.