Throughout the semester of last year I was working at Crisp Creative Salad Bar, a darn cool salad joint in the city, in order to fund fun adventures over the 3 and a half month summer holiday. It’s lovely looking back on the summer now, knowing that the semester’s work was worthwhile, as I got to enjoy much of the beautiful east coast of Australia with cool people, largely Daniel Follent. (He’s not large.) Here is a bit about our travels…
Dan and I begun in Sydney. After a night there and a cracking lunch at Bondi Beach, we hopped on the train up to Newcastle (how hilarious – a Newcastle in Australia!). There we stayed for a few days with Dan’s ridiculously cool friends, beaching, enjoying the heat (30 degrees+) and playing games. Gilbert is a board game expert so we played a couple of great ones. I enjoyed Agricola the most because you got your own little plastic farm animals! My cow kept hitting over Dan’s sheep, much to his annoyance. Dan and I went out dancing and found the Newcastle club environment was…character building. Whilst in Newcastle part of my tooth fell out, which was pretty funny. (Sorry Mum and Dad, haven’t told you that – I’ve got it under control.)
Dan and I partnered up with Hannah and Gilbert, two super cool peeps, and we spent the next week together road tripping up to Byron Bay. We found a lovely campsite in Forster in Booti Booti National park, where I saw my first ever goanna AND red-back spider; 2 classic Australian animals, the second of which is small but d-a-n-g-e-r-o-u-s. Unfortunately Beyonce was nowhere to be seen. The first night we spent under the stars on the beach where little kiddys were running around finding crabs, and we were watching the galaxies and shooting stars. That was one of those special moments. We walked and beached and gamed and read the next day, packing up and leaving the following morning. We headed up to Maclean where we spent a couple of days at a lovely family’s holiday house. It was classic Australia; I looked out the window one morning as I was dressing and I saw a whole family of kangaroos watching me. There was also many a koala and/or kookaburra call! We played games and talked about God a lot which was awesome.
On 9th January we left Maclean to head to our destination; Byron Bay! We snorkelled (admittedly rather unsuccessfully) on our way up, got to the campsite, set up camp and crashed; we were all pretty exhausted at this point. Unfortunately the site wasn’t ideal for sleeping; I was kept up until about 6am by kids drinking and screaming. Classic Byron! It was a weird place Byron Bay. It seemed very spiritual in an ‘anything goes’ kind of way, and there were lots of skimpily dressed girls which I really didn’t like. The poor boys must’ve had a hard job keeping their eyes and minds in check. Dan came down with a fever at this point, and we saw a man being resuscitated on the beach which was a shock; we were reminded that life isn’t all plain sailing by any means. However, lots of things were great, such as chips on the beach, cards with cool girls we met, a walk in a national park and lots of sea-swimming and sunbathing.
On 13th we were sad to split off from Hannah and Gilbert who had been really quality company, providing both laughs and thoughtful conversations over the week we spent together. We were, however, glad to be heading up to Queensland, north of Brisbane, to stay with Dan’s Grandma, largely because it meant no longer sleeping in a tent! Grandma showed us what true hospitality looks like, and our time there allowed space and time for Dan to recover from his fever. We went on some lovely day trips to Bribie Island where we swam and sunbathed and I found a really orange crab, Australia Zoo where we realised that Steve Irwin is massively commercialised, and Springbrooke National Park where we saw waterfalls and birds of prey. We then spent a few days driving up the Sunshine Coast and loving the beaching life. We enjoyed drinks and meals out together and one night we even splashed out on a twin room unit at Rainbow Beach – it had a pool! Our final day was spent at Hervey Bay where we had another failed attempt at snorkelling, but it was a beautiful day and we enjoyed one another’s company.
We were sad to be heading home on 23rd January, and glad to have learnt that we don’t get sick of each other’s company; I could’ve stayed on beaching all the way up to the tip of Australia with Dan, but it was time to go home. It was such a beautifully relaxed and adventurous time, and though there’s so much pressure when on exchange to do anything and everything, I’m glad we did it the way we did 🙂