Byron Bay, a small beach town, resides in the state of New South Wales, Australia. Byron is now trademarked by its hippy leisurely reputation and surf culture. However, it didn’t always have this standing. Byron Bay prior to this was a whaling town, which contrasts strongly from the vibe it now gives off. Byron Bay is filled with local street music, art, food, and packed with a cultural past and present.
In Byron Bay I stayed at a local hostel called The Arts Factory Lodge. This hostel encompasses everything about this small and beachy town. Filled with backpackers and travelers from all over it is impossible not to find yourself intrigued and eager to discover everyone’s unique and personal story that brought them there.
However, it’s not just the people residing at this hostel that are unique. Running around everywhere are Australian brush turkeys along with eastern water dragons. These dragons are as fearless as they look and as I quickly found out if you are not careful, they have no problem sharing a bite of your food right off your plate!
Located directly next to the hostel is a local brewery where my friends and I had our first legal beer. I decided to try something local and went with the Byron Bay IPA. Also, wanting to get a feel for the local culture I decided to take the plunge and order my first kangaroo burger. Known for its lean meat this burger is not only healthy but also surprisingly tasty!
In the town of Byron resides the Byron Bay lighthouse, which I had the opportunity to venture out to. Here you are at the most Easterly point of the Australian mainland. The views from this location are beyond breath taking and unquestionably gave me a worthy first impression of my home for the next four plus months.
Suppressed for some time, the Australians are now incredibly proud of their roots and the indigenous people of Australia known as the Aboriginals. While in Bryon I had the chance to learn about the unique customs, traditions, and lifestyle in which these people inhabit. Munji came and taught us about the customs of the aboriginals. He showed us their traditional dances along with common songs played on the didgeridoo as pictured. Next, Cockatoo Paul took us out around the hostel to teach us how to live off the land. I learned here what flowers and plants could be eaten, turned into baskets, and much more. Indulging in the culture of the locals enabled me to value the rich history that inhabits the place in which I am living. I also learned appreciate a whole new side of Australia.
Next, I took to the water with some friends as we took advantage of Australia’s warm summer. First on the list was none other than surfing. The thoughts of big sharks and other ocean creatures was put on the back burner of my mind as I attempted to get my footing right and catch my first Australian wave. Riding in my first wave in the land down under was an exhilarating feeling of pure accomplishment. As a result I was left no other choice but to throw up the hang loose sign like a true surfer. After surfing my friends and I ran across the road to jump into the local tea tree lake. The water upon first glance looks to be dirty as it holds a dark brown color. However, I soon learned that the trees surrounding it were tee leaf trees. Their leaves cascade into the water as they break free of their branches turning the water into a tea bath of sorts with countless healing and renewing properties.
Surfing and swimming were not the only water activities I took to during my stay in Byron Bay. I also ventured out to sea once more to partake in sea kayaking. I soon learned this activity was not as easy as it seemed. In order to make it out to the slow rolling waves you had to paddle over the breaking waves near shore. Accepting the challenge, my kayak partner and roomie Bonnie and I paddled hard through the waves slapping us in the face to make it out with our group to sea. When we finally made it out we found ourselves in the perfect place to relax in the waves and watch the local surfers
My last stop on the way out of Byron Bay was at a local nature reserve. Here I did what any tourist would do- hopped alongside kangaroos and cuddled a koala. I mean did you really go to Australia if you didn’t check these two things off your list?!
It’s safe to say Australia has made me feel at home already as if I am truly living the dream. I am still in awe that this is the place I can call home! Next stop on the Australian tour, Melbourne!