Written by Danielle Peters
Spending a semester in Australia left me with a bunch of new friends, a lifetime of memories, and a bunch of new “favorite places.” One of the places I loved the most (and visited frequently) was Byron Bay, New South Wales.
If you told me my college orientation trip would consist of a bar crawl, skydiving, and tripping on acid at a bonfire with Aboriginal people, I wouldn’t have believed you for a minute. Little did I know, that was what was in store when it came to a weekend in Byron.
The trip started out like any other, packed on a coach bus with a bunch of college kids, passing vodka around in a sports bottle, eagerly awaiting to see this place the brochures spoke so highly of. I knew Byron Bay as the home of Parkway Drive, one of my favorite bands growing up. But I had no clue it was also the hippie capital of the Australia until one of the kids mentioned we’d have a much easier time finding weed over there than in Surfer’s Paradise, where we lived. He wasn’t kidding. The second we stepped off the bus and walked towards the hostel the aroma of marijuana filled the air, no one was wearing shoes, and everything was tie-dye. I knew instantly I was going to like it here.
Immediately, we were led to a trail to do some hiking. I’m not much of a hiker, and was violently hung over, but the trail was absolutely beautiful. We hiked up to the Cape Byron Lighthouse, “The Most Easterly Point of the Australian Mainland.” The sight was stunning.
Here’s one of my favorite parts of the hike, about halfway to the lighthouse. I was dry heaving at this point.
After getting back to the hostel I decided to do some exploring. Since I didn’t know anyone, I grabbed a book and headed to the nearest smoothie shop (the little town had at least 10), ordered an acai bowl and sat down to read. I had a small conversation with the guy making my acai bowl and he told me about all the cool spots that Byron had to offer. He told me about Cheeky Monkey’s, Woody’s, and The Sticky Wicket. Coincidentally, that’s what our tour guide had on the itinerary that night. He assured me he would see me later at one of those bars, and told me to have a nice trip.
The tour guides were kind enough to throw a little pre-game before we went out to get us all mingling. That’s when I found a friend. Her name was Beki and she was from California. We clicked instantly. We stuck together the rest of the night, and when she got kicked out of Cheeky Monkey’s for filming a wet t-shirt contest we headed to the Sticky Wicket.
Almost immediately, we ran into my smoothie shop friend from earlier in the day. We got to talking and I asked if he had any weed we could buy, as neither of us had smoked good weed since we were in the States (the weed back in Surfer’s was atrocious). He didn’t have any weed, but he did have acid. I was a little hesitant, given my only other experience with acid was in a dank basement, listening to Ja Rule for what seemed like an eternity. But I figured I’d give it another shot in nature, and Beki was game. So we took our hits and took to the beach.
Immediately, we ran into a couple that had set up a bonfire on the beach. They were so warm and welcoming to us and asked us to join. One by one, our bonfire grew. People from all over the world, as well as indigenous to Australia came to enjoy the fire with us. A few of the aboriginal people present brought drums, one kid from the states had a guitar. So that’s how we spent the night, with a bunch of different cultures and a warm fire on the most amazing beach I’ve ever seen in my life. Tripping on acid that we got from the guy at the smoothie shop, and waiting for the sun to rise so we could somehow go skydiving the next morning.
During my nighttime adventures I lost Beki. I ran into a few kids from Germany I recognized from the hostel and decided to do the lighthouse hike with them again to watch the sunrise. They didn’t speak English the whole time and it definitely tripped me out a bit. I’m sure they thought there was something wrong with me.
Over the course of five months I would return to Byron Bay four more times, and each time I was amazed. There’s plenty more that amazing town has to offer but if you ever make it out to Australia you have to see for yourself. Check out the Adventure Dudes and I can guarantee you they’ll make it a trip you’ll never forget.
This is Danielle Peters’ first feature article for #HMPYG!
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