I have survived my first (and probably only) dust storm! As you may know, since it was international news, Sydney had record breaking dust storms last week, which travelled up to my lovely Brisbane. During a dust storm the wind blows the dust from the desert-like central country to the coast. The skies were red and hazy, and there was a constant dirty taste in my mouth. The storm in Brisbane was less intense than the one in Sydney, so there weren’t as many negative effects. In fact, other than eating dust with my lunch, it didn’t really alter my day to day happenings at all.
So on to mid-semester break … one of the only Aussie phrases that doesn’t roll off of the tongue as easily as the American one. Yes, I am lucky enough to be having my second spring break of 2009, and so far it has been a step up from my last one of externships and interviews in chilly New England. My first half was spent in Byron Bay, which is a chilled-out beach town about a two-hour drive south of Brisbane, and my second half will be spent in Cairns, which is the tropical Great Barrier Reef tourist destination in the north. I will report back on that half in the coming week or so.
Anyways, Byron Bay. In the recent years it has begun to pick up as a tourist destination, but for a long time it has been a sanctuary for hippies and free thinkers. With some great rips, it also has its fair share of surfers. Most of the locals walk around without shoes on and work to make enough money to do the things they love, whether it is playing the guitar, surfing, or philosophizing. Our first night we found a free barbeque where we met a man who studied as an engineer, works as a counselor, and just finished writing a philosophy book about the ego. By the end of our chat I felt a life lesson had been exchanged.
Being amongst these types of people, it is hard not to chill as well, and in Byron I found myself doing things that are not very typical Kelsey. After our hike to the Byron Bay lighthouse, my hamstring injury was hurting a bit and we decided to hitchhike the last miles back. One day, we decided to go to the clothing-optional beach, which was almost private and incredibly relaxing. I also found myself doing things that were typical Kelsey, like going to an amazing home-made ice cream place every day.
A trip to Byron Bay is just not complete without checking out Nimbin, though, which is an alternative living hippie town about an hour away in the Australian hinterland, which is off-coast.
In comparison to Nimbin, Byron is not much of a hippie town at all. The town is just a one lane road with a clutter of shops, cafes, and a museum, with murals and graffiti art everywhere.
Other than the small group of tourists that visit every day, it is filled with the extremists of the Aquarius age. It seems that shoes do not exist, and even the children running around have figured out the meaning of life. Drugs have been “legalized” by the townspeople several times, which allows the store owners to sell them, but police have broken up this scene. Instead they are sold on the side of the street like hemp jewelry is sold in Byron. The museum is a crazy clutter of everything from the 70s to the present that represents the eclectic Nimbin attitude, and only accepts payments upon donation.
On the way back we visited a large market filled with organic goodies and unusual trinkets and soon we arrived in Byron Bay. And now here I am back in Brisbane prepping for the tropics! Ahhh living the dream…