Gold Coast, Byron Bay and Bathurst Country Life Weekend
I’ve been so many places in the past few weeks! Somehow I managed to arrange my schedule to only take classes on Mondays and Tuesdays, so I’ve had lots of time to explore. Two weeks ago, I traveled with a bunch of friends to the Gold Coast and Byron Bay. As we arrived at the airport, we were surprised to find a free wine tasting on the way to the gate. This would have never happened in the US!
The Gold Coast is very similar to how I would describe Miami. There are lots of palm trees and hostels lined along the beach. Both of our destinations were north of Sydney, so we enjoyed lots of warm weather mixed in with a few rainy days. On Wednesday night, we arrived, checked into our hotel and walked along the long chain of shops and restaurants. The next morning, I had to wake up around 6 am so that I could speak to Brandeis about my classes. The time difference here has been generally fine for speaking with friends and family, but the hours of 9am-5pm at home are from 12am-8am which is sometimes hard to deal with. Anyways, once our classes were sorted out, we found a bus to take us to a water park for the day. We hung out on the lazy river, did some water slides, and some of my friends even did a version of bunjee jumping offered at the park (it was only $12 where bunjee jumping usually costs over $100)!
After the water park, we came back to the hostel for a little to relax and then went out for a delicious sushi dinner! Afterwards, we went to a nightclub called East where Thursday night is ladies night and they serve free champagne from 9-11 and other types of free drinks after 12. Definitely the least we’ve had to spend on a night out! Any other night, a drink can cost about $9.50.
On Friday morning, I had to wake up at 7am to speak to Brandeis again and do a phone interview for a position back home! Luckily, we left our hostel a few hours later and got to sleep on an hour and a half bus ride to Byran Bay. Byran Bay is one of my favorite places that I’ve visited in Australia so far. The beach is BEAUTIFUL, and there are lots of local shops and restaurants to walk into. It’s also a very popular place to do skydiving which a few of my friends were brave enough to sign up for (I think I’m holding off until New Zealand!). While my friends skydived, I went off with another group on a two hour hike to a famous lighouse by the beach. That Saturday also happened to be St. Patrick’s day, so even though we were all exhausted, we bought green drinks at dinner to celebrate! I also had my first fish and chips of the semester and they were delicious!
The next day, we took a day trip to Nimbin, a tiny hippie town about an hour from Byran Bay. Apparently, Nimbin is the ‘Amsterdam of Australia.’ Although weed isn’t legal there, our tour guide told us many stories about past tour participants who got high and missed about half of the actual tour. After walking around for a little while in Nimbin, we re-boarded the bus and got to do a waterfall hike and eat a barbecue lunch.
That night, I finally headed back to Sydney. After a week of classes, I boarded the bus again to go on IFSA Butler’s Country Life weekend in Bathurst. This was one of the best weekends I’ve had so far. After about a 4 hour drive, the group split up and each of us got to stay with a host family on a farm! It was so refreshing to stay in a real house and eat a home-cooked meal. On Friday night, we sat at dinner from about 8:00pm to 11:30pm just talking and sharing stories. On Saturday during the day, we met up with the rest of the group and their host families and did a nice walk and ate a barbecue lunch at a park nearby. Afterwards, we got to go for a ride in the back of a host family’s truck and we saw cows and tons of wild kangaroos (I even got a video)! We had a huge dinner that night on another family’s farm and saw so much beautiful scenery including a fantastic sunset. We learned from our host family that this property is so breathtaking that many people rent it out for weddings and other special events! The next day, we woke up early and got to check for any eggs the chickens lay. We found three! And then I even got to hold one of the chickens. Afterwards, we traveled to another family’s house where we had a home-cooked brick-oven pizza lunch and drove around feeding their cows. Finally, we took a quick drive around the famous Bathurst race track before saying goodbye and heading back home. I’m almost looking forward to a relaxed weekend in Sydney this week before I head off to New Zealand for Easter Break!!