Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Independent Travel Week

By Lucy Roberts

This blog post is coming to you after wrapping up our relaxing, laid back week of independent travel. What better way to spend our time off than going to the beach-centered, artistic, hippie hub of New South Wales- Byron Bay. The time off felt well deserved after a long, rainy week of fieldwork and presentations at Lamington Plateau.
A view of Byron's beautiful beach on a flawless sunny day.
All photos courtesy of Kyla Covey
We arrived in Byron on Saturday night after a smooth day of packing up camp and an easy, convenient bus ride, and from the first look at our hostel we could tell it was going to be one exciting week. We stayed at the Arts Factory Backpackers Lodge, and it definitely lived up to its name. This hostel was a factory not only of arts but also of fun, relaxation, excitement and so many international travelers. Our first night in Byron was Justin Gallen’s birthday, so we celebrated his birth by going out to the night art market and visiting some venues along the beach with live music and vivacious crowds.

Our days in Byron consisted of quality time on the beach; playing in the waves, basking in the sun, and a few of the students took surfing lessons and became official surfer babes. Everybody was standing up after the first lesson and was immediately hooked. I spent some time exploring the small, local shops in the city scouring for souvenirs and cute postcards to send to my friends and family. We frequented a cheap sushi restaurant accurately called Australia’s Finest pretty much everyday for some delicious $2.50 rolls.

There is a lighthouse overlooking Byron Bay and a beautiful pathway is set in place for hiking up to the top. Along the way there are great views of the beach and eucalypt forests, as well as a lookout at Australia’s most eastern point. This was a pretty exciting place to stand and look across the ocean in the direction of home.
Point Byron Lighthouse
While our days were exhausting (sun bathing just takes so much energy and concentration) we still managed to capitalize on our youthful energy and go out exploring Byron at night. The town lights up with busking, young people having a good time, making for some very silly people watching. One evening there was a beach party, which felt like a typical spring break activity. There was a bonfire, dj, hula hoops, glow sticks and dozens of young people getting together to enjoy the beauty the ocean has to offer. One thing I loved about Byron was how all the people I met were utterly stoked on life and exhibited the highest gratitude for being in Byron at that moment. It was very inspiring and felt good to be around people who have just as much appreciation for life and good times as I do.

Annabelle and I spent our last day in Byron with our host sister, who came down to Byron to visit. We had a delightful last beach bathing day and had a delicious vegetarian lunch at a very typical Byron-esque local, organic cafĂ©. We are spending this evening at our host family’s house in Brisbane and meeting up with the rest of the group tomorrow morning to continue on with the rest of our journey.

Spring break was a delightful, rejuvenating experience. It is hitting me hard how little time we have left on this program now that the end is so tangible. The days we have left in Australia are limited while the adventures we could be having are limitless. All that we can do is make the most of the time we are given here and be grateful for the opportunities we have, and I would say everybody on this program is doing an exemplary job of this. 

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