Sunday, March 6, 2011

Byron Bay- forever ago, but AWESOME

Hello! I know it has been like almost a month since my last post, but I have been ridiculously busy. In the past 3 weeks I have travelled to a couple of different places in Aussie, studied A LOT, had mid terms, and saw the beginning of the Quiksilver Pro surf competition that is going on right down the road! It is crazy to think that I am over half way done with my semester here... I  can't believe I have to fly home to the cold United States in 45 days. It's nuts! But anyways I am going to write 3 separate posts describing the last couple weeks of my life here, it has been pretty cool/ eye opening, so bare w me if it is a little lengthy!

So, the weekend of February 11th I went to Byron Bay with my program provider, Arcadia. It was a free trip, so everyone on the program came, which was the first time we had all been together since orientation. It was weird being around everyone again, just because we have definitely formed our little groups and stuff, but none the less it was fun! We left on a Friday and drove about an hour or maybe a little more, south to New South Wales, which is a new state! NSW is the same state that Sydney is in, if that helps anyone out. But yeah, so we drove down there and we got settled in what was like a summer camp type place- there were a bunch of little cabins that had multiple beds in each room. We walked around the grounds a little bit, had dinner there, hung out together and then went to bed- it was a pretty low key night, because the next morning we got up at 4:30 am and went to see the sunrise at the Byron Bay lighthouse! It definitely was not my cup of tea getting up that early, but seeing the sunrise over the ocean was pretty priceless. Here are a couple of pictures...

Climbing up to the lighthouse at 4:30 am

Sunrise over the Pacific

Hot air balloon over Mt. Warning at sunrise

So those are just a couple of some of the amazing pictures I got to take that morning- it was really beautiful! The hot air balloon is definitely my favorite :) But anyways, after that we went to this little cafe and had breakfast (s0 good) and then we went back to our "camp" for our surf lesson!! Surfing was so so much fun, we had a little info session on the beach before hand just about waves and surfing in general, and then we got ot go into the water! At first i was on a super super long board, so it was really easy to get up, and then I switched boards w another girl in our group (a shorter board) and tried that out, and I actually didn't do too bad! On my facebook there are a bunch of pics of me surfing, but for some reason facebook isn't letting people take pictures off it anymore so I am not able to post it to my blog :( oh well though, if you have a fb check them out! But yeah so after our lesson we had a little break and then we got bused into the town of Byron Bay. Byron is a really laid back awesome town. The beaches were beautiful and it just had a really friendly vibe to it. We were free to kind of so whatever we wanted there, so a couple of friends and I got some lunch and then we headed to the beach for the afternoon. It was SO nice out that day. We took my underwater camera into the ocean and played around, it was just a really fun/cool day. Here are a couple pics from the day....
Byron main beach

Justin, Mark and I jumpin' the waves

making Felicia a sand mermaid

After being at the beach all day we headed back to "camp" and hung out for a while before having a BBQ. My friends Justin, Ang and I all went swimming in the lake next to the camp- it is supposed to have "healing powers" because of the tea trees that live on the edge of the water. For those of you who don't know, tea tree oil is very good for your skin and is supposed to preserve your skin and make you look younger. I didn't necessarily feel "healed", but the water made my skin really really soft and it smelled like tea tree oil which smells so good! We had our BBQ and then went out to this hotel/bar thing down the road that had a live band. It was pretty cool, but I definitely like the Gold Coast night life better! The next day we were up early again, heading back up to the gold coast for a day of kayaking with an aboriginal and an aboriginal tour guide. When we got back up to surfers we took the kayaks across the canal to a little island were we got to go snorkeling- we didn't see many fish, but it was cool to finally snorkel a little bit. After snorkelling we had a snack on the beach and listening to a story about the aboriginal people who used to live there. After that we got back on our kayaks and headed to another island not too far away. This island (I forget the name) is famous for its surfing beaches and for its native history. There, the aboriginal man (Jordie) performed an aboriginal induction ceremony on us, where he painted our faces with watery clay and welcomed us in the native language. It was a really cool experience seeing that side of the Australian culture. The aborigines are very attached to the earth and all that it brings to the human population, and it was really nice to hear about their thought processes regarding the sacredness of animals and the earth. One thing that Jordie said that really stuck in my head was "Take only what you need", which is very true and a lot of us don't think about today. After that we walked around the island for an hour or so looking for wildlife, but it was high noon, so it was super hot and not a very good time for sightings. After we were done we took a swim and kayaked back. I will post a couple pictures of that part of the day at the end of the post. SO yeah, that is an abbreviated version of Byron Bay, I definitely am interested in going back there, it was a lot of fun! The next thing i will be updating about is Cairns, which is where the great barrier reef is. Cairns is definitely my favorite trip so far- so much adventure and fun! It is kind of late so I am not going to do it now, but be on the look out in the next couple of days!!!
Taylor and I in our snorkel gear

Kayaks on the beach

The group "bush-walking" on the island

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