Great Barrier Reef. Tasmania. Rottnest Island. Lorne.

Oz has treated me very well so far in 2020. Shortly after my last update, I was able to spend the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day with my dad, stepmom, her mom, and my little sister in Melbourne and in Cairns, Queensland. We did it all: I showed them around Melbs, including St. Kilda [pretend to be shocked] and Queen Victoria Market. We went to Cairns for a whirlwind 48 hours that began snorkeling and SCUBA diving Moore Reef in the outer Great Barrier Reef and ended on the Skyrail Cableway above a beautiful rainforest and Barron Grove National Park.

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SCUBA Diving the Great Barrier Reef

We landed back in M town just as the fireworks went off over the city and we officially entered a new decade. The trip wouldn’t have been complete without showing them the kangaroos and koalas at Healesville Sanctuary, having some wines at De Bortoli Winery in Yarra Valley, and catching some waves during a surf lesson at Ocean Grove. It was sad to see them go, but I had another visitor just after they left!

Matthew flew into Melbourne on his birthday and I surprised him with a trip to Perth, Fremantle, and Rottnest Island in Western Australia the next day. We had an amazing few days in Freo enjoying Little Creatures Brewery and meeting up with a family facing Fanconi Anaemia who we both knew from Camp Sunshine in Maine, USA. We also spent an afternoon checking out the Perth Zoo [highly recommend]. The highlights of his trip here by far included cycling, snorkeling, and taking quokka selfies on Rotto. We watched a movie from the beach and experienced the international, interactive art exhibit called the Rain Room. See evidence:

I went back to work after returning from Rottnest Island, and began more attempts at my laboratory research project and refinements to our FA research study ethics application.

After a quick few days of normalcy, I ventured down to Tasmania to do a little weekend road trip around the state with some other Fulbrighters. We visited Hobart, glow worm caves, Queenstown, Cradle Mountain National Park, Russell Falls, the MONA, I did the Moorilla winery tour, and then we flew home:

After returning back to Melbourne [again], I won free tickets to another Mov’In Bed screening on the beach, and went for a gal’s night. I finally got back in the dance studio and learned some killer moves:

I was also able to attend a cocktail hour at the US Consulate General’s house and network with current Fulbrighters and Australian-American alumni.

Last but not least, I have been fortunate to attend the Lorne Genome conference on the beautiful Great Ocean Road, just two hours outside of the city. This beachside town hosted scientists from all over the world this weekend, and I felt so thankful to be a part of it. Here are some beautiful sights… find me on twitter @xoxohannahlily to read about the amazing presentations.

I couldn’t end this post without acknowledging the severe bush fires that affected many regions of Australia in the past few months, and summer is only beginning. Not to end on a sad note, but a piece of reality, here is a recent photo from a nurse friend of mine, Nicole, showing the difference in the city, hundreds of miles from the fires:

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