posted by Siqi Wu, with edits from Lexing Xie

Australia has great weather for the ourdoors, no matter it’s winter or summer – that’s what we did, and here’s photo proof.

Hiking in Wombeyan Caves

On 20 August 2016, we did a short group hike in Wombeyan Caves as part of the Data61 Machine Learning group retreat. Wombeyan Caves are part of a Karst system formed between 400 and 430 million years ago. The magnificent marbles are delicate to light therefore only a handful of them are opened for visiting. And we had to walk down steep stairs, go through wet rocky trail under a mere light, believe me it’s challenging! After that we hiked Mares Forest Creek walking track, which led us to a creek in limestone cayon.

Left photo: Hiking in Mares Forest Creek walking track. Right photo: At the exit of Figtree Cave.

We saw cave structures both magnificant and delicate (below left: Marbles in Wombeyan caves, force of water drops in thousands of years). We did an appropriate share of rock-scaling (below middle). And just before the end of the hike, we had a unique opportunity to watch two iconic Australian marsupials, and capture them in the same picture – (below right) the kangaroo and the wombat!

Visiting the National Cherry Capital

On 3 Dec 2016 we took the advantage of warm December and headed to Young NSW, known as “cherry capital of Australia” for delicious cherries. Young holds National Cherry Festival on the first weekend in December and this year is the 67th! The orchard is quite popular on weekends in cherry-picking season. Our ride in a squeezed freight truck was an unique balancing excercise. The weather was properly scorching that day but the cherries made it worthy. The group stopped at the street parade and watched cherry pie eating championships. Admittedly finishing 2 cherry pies within one minute is a remarkable effort, we are seriously planning to send a group member to compete next year.

Left photo: Picking and eating cherry in the orchard, taking a break from the heat. Middle: At the National Cherry Festival. Right: A bucket of cherries.

Look forward to more fun trips with the team in 2017!

December 15, 2016
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