This past weekend, I traveled to a very popular destination in Australia called Byron Bay. It is located in New South Wales, the state directly below Queensland and took about two hours to get there by bus. Get your geography on below:
|Remember a few locations: Main beach, cape byron lighthouse, and tallow beach
|Located directly below Queensland, Byron Bay is in the north of NSW
In short, the weekend was awesome. I made the journey with QUEST, the student organization for exchange students. There was 150 or so students that all went together which was great. The weekend was full of fun activities QUEST planned for us and a lot of beach time: just what I needed after a tough week of school
We arrived on Friday about 3 pm and my friend, Camilla, and I hit the beach immediately, after I got a huge cheeseburger of course. We lounged for a few hours but then promptly had to head in to get ready for our night activities.
I won’t say exactly when we all went to sleep after our night of fun, but I will say that we did all get up at 5:15 am to begin our sunrise hike to the most easterly point of mainland Australia. Yep, that’s right, we ALL WOKE UP at 5:15 am. It was pitch black and group of about 70 students hiked up to the cape byron light house to watch the sunrise.
And let me tell ya, it was totally worth it. We literally saw the sun peek out over the ocean. It took quite some time to see the fiery ball, but as soon as it peeked it only took about 30 seconds before the entire sun was on top of the ocean. It was quite incredible actually.
We then hiked a little bit more until we were standing on the most easterly point of mainland Australia. It makes you feel pretty small actually, just standing there on the point of a continent surrounded by ocean.
After marveling for some time, we then begin our decent which continued to be extremely scenic. And just think, all of this before 8:00 am! We made it back in time for breakfast and after that Camilla and I had to leave promptly for our surf lesson.
We arrived at the surf school a little before 10am to begin our two hour lesson. They told us to leave everything at the school and only bring our towels. They also made us wear these green t-shirts so they could keep track of us in the water.
The instructor, Marco, loaded up the surf boards and we were off to the beach. There was 11 people in the class, mostly girls and everyone was with QUEST which was nice to have familiar faces. We carried the boards down to the beach and began what was an exhilarating two hours.
We spent about 20 minutes on the beach receiving intensive instructions on what to do in the water. Marco was very good at explaining what to do, and also very up front about pointing out your mistakes. There are six steps to getting up on the surf board, but I can’t reveal them unless you pay for a lesson…. just kidding. I just really don’t want to/can’t remember them. Either way we ended up in the water and Marco helped each one of us individually which was great. When it was my turn he said “Alright, get on the board” and then he gave me a quick push and shouted “stand up!” and sure enough, I stood up. It wasn’t quite like pro surfer style, but it was still surfing nonetheless.
We continued the lesson with many more attempts, which were mostly successful. I only nose dived a couple times. At the end of the lesson I was totally beat, it is much more tiring than you think. We managed to take a decent group pic in our green shirts and then headed back to the school, where I was quickly persuaded into purchasing all of these awesome pictures they took. I figured they were worth it for my first surfing experience. Besides, it’ll all be worth it when I go pro.
After all this excitement it was hard to believe it was only 12:30 pm. Camilla and I snagged some Domino’s for lunch (by the way, it is not that same as in the U.S., it tastes more like Pizza Hut) and then we went to the beach. I covered (most) of my body in sunscreen and totally passed out. I was running on minimal sleep, there was an awesome breeze, and I trust Australians not to play tricks on my while I am baking in the sun. And baking I did. Camilla woke me up about 2 hours later to go get ice cream (what a pal) and then we went back to the beach and I slept some more. The next day I discovered a few places where I missed sunscreen, aka red blotches… but besides that I actually tanned pretty nicely. Goodbye white Wisconsin skin!
That night was filled with more fun QUEST activities. We went to bed a bit earlier due to extreme tiredness and sun exposure. The next morning we decided to spend our last day doing something a little more active than lying on the beach all day. So three other guys and I hiked out to Tallow Beach. We walked along the beach, which was much more deserted than Main Beach until with got to the Teatree lake. It took us about an hour but it was totally worth it. The lake was situated about 100 ft from the ocean and was surrounded by dense forest.
Upon entering the water you can’t really notice anything special about it, but about 2 feet in we began to notice why this was called “teatree” lake. The water looked like a teabag had been sitting it in all day. The water was actually reddish brown and after about a foot down you couldn’t see a single thing.
It was really creepy at first because you didn’t know how deep it was or what was underneath you. Crocodiles, snakes, eels… oh my! But then we saw a small child playing in the water and we thought “if she can do it (naked) then we can do it too!” Besides, the croc would totally go for that snack before any of us. We swam in it for a while because the people said it was good for your skin and hair. After too many croc/getting eaten by something jokes I noticed a small green, hairy worm like thing swimming across the top of the water. That was just about all the wildlife we needed to get us out of that lake. Although I am not sure if I would ever swim there again, I am glad I did it, it was a pretty cool experience.
We trekked back to the hostel after a quick jaunt in the ocean and arrived back in the city in time to grab a tasty lunch. We then boarded the bus and I don’t think I have ever fallen asleep so fast. I slept the entire way home.
In summary, the weekend was awesome, as I said before. It was nice to travel with a group who had everything coordinated for you, so I definitely recommend doing that. Also, be sure to challenge yourself sometimes, especially when you’re travelling. Exploring new areas and swimming in creepy lakes is all part of the experience. Lastly, Byron Bay is a MUST when you are in Australia. The scenery, activities, and nightlife are all worth it!
Check back for the next post on a school update and St Paddy’s Day recap.