It has been a week of firsts. But nothing was accomplished without my new mates at my side. We have already met many international and Australian students from our Uni Village. We navigated the ins and outs (ups and downs) of campus. It was not long until a gracious Australian friend led us to a grocery store in walking distance. Our stomachs and wallets thanked him greatly. Still, we suffered a few cold hungry nights before we ventured into town to find a Kmart for real bedding and crockery. Transportation in itself has been an adventure. Before this week I had never ridden a city bus. But as a planner I took over finding the correct bus routes. Besides a few unknowns and delays I would say the newbie did all right leading a group of 12. We also bussed to Surfers Paradise one day, the popular downtown city center of the Gold Coast, where we finally spent a beautiful afternoon at the beach. The day was finished with our first weekly family dinner- classic spaghetti of course.
Friday morning two friends and I jumped on a bus with 100 other international students and headed to popular hippie town, Byron Bay, for a weekend of fun and sun. On the way we stopped at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary and I actually got to see a ‘Roo with a Joey in it’s pouch (see photo below). We then arrived in Byron and hiked up to a lighthouse that provided stunning views of the coastline. We were on our own to get back to the hostel and so most of us just followed the shoreline home. We then got ready and headed to a backpackers bar.
The next day we got up early and had our first ever surf lesson. It was incredibly fun and I would definitely try again and again- particularly because I have yet to successfully standup. I did however earn my first surf scar on my knee. After wandering the town we took naps and headed to our hostel backyard for a Barbie. Instead of hitting the town with the rest of the group, we went to bed early. Through this whole week I have been pretty sick and my friend is now coming down with whatever I have. This is why there was little mention of the supposedly “mental” O-week- because besides the free lunches and dinners I had to sit out on a lot of the fun.
This brings me to Sunday, where I once again sat out. I had been looking forward to sea kayaking and seeing whales and dolphins but instead I spent the day on the beach, too sick and exhausted for kayaking. It is hard to get too upset however, because the day spent writing and reading at the beach was much needed.
In the morning, just before my friends headed off to kayak we caught a ride from the hostel owner into town ad he told us all about his story and noted that the famous burger joint, Beloporto Burger, we were headed to was owned by his best friend. Rightfully rumored, the burger was the best I have ever had. I love the laid back, close-knit nature of the seaside town of Byron Bay. So much so that we are already planning on bringing our other friends back in a few weekends.
So far, Australia has proven to be extremely welcoming and endlessly breathtaking.
Mother Kangaroo with Joey at Currumbin
Views of NSW Coastline from Lighthouse Hike
Surf Cabinet at Hostel
Backyard of Backpackers Inn Hostel
The journey continues.