My name is Philip Kirkbride. I’m a college graduate from Ontario studying at AU. I’ve always wanted to do an exchange program or study abroad but never found the right time to do so. This is the story of how Athabasca University has allowed me to create my own study abroad program. In the last issue I started the long journey from Sydney to Cairns, in an RV with Dylan, my new Australian friend.
As the sun began to set we decided to look for a good place to stop. One of Dylan’s friends had suggested a little place five hours north of Sydney called Crescent Head. It’s not a popular town, having barely made it on to Wikipedia with only a two-line description:
Crescent Head is a beachside community 440 km north-northeast of Sydney, in New South Wales, Australia in Kempsey Shire. At the 2006 census, Crescent Head had a population of 1,076 people. Its major industries include tourism and fishing. It has a small golf course overlooking the sea.
While Crescent Head wasn’t the most popular of destinations it was certainly one of the most beautiful. We drove up a large hill on a winding road, appropriately named Skyline Crescent. At the top sits a large water-tank in a clearing surrounded by shrubs and trees. From the top of that we could see the dim lights of the small town behind us. In front of us lay a steep cliff with an amazing view of the beach. With the sun reflecting off the wave-filled sea, Dylan snapped photographs from every direction.
Dylan is both an amateur photographer and artist, though the quality of his work was anything but amateur. In addition to taking photographs, he designed stickers which he plastered on to public and private property alike on his travels. After he was done taking pictures he stuck one of his stickers on to the giant water-tank. On the sticker was a photo he’d taken of a smoking miner on his jobsite somewhere in South America. It was his own unique form of protest, he’d even stuck one onto the side of a transport truck as we sat at a red light earlier that day.
Even though the view was great, we wanted to get a spot down by the beach for the night and, after searching for a few minutes, we came across a small parking lot along the beach. The lot was lodged between a little skate park and a paid campsite. Another RV was parked in the parking lot (seemingly for the night), which told us that we’d come to the right spot. The RV was covered with myriad graffiti images, and fit perfectly with the bohemian style of the sea-side skate-park.
We parked the RV in a spot we hoped wasn’t frequented by park rangers (who are known to tell beach campers to move along, or even give them a ticket). Almost every beach in Australia has a public stove or barbeque, absolutely anyone can walk up to the beach and toss a steak on the grill. No charcoal is required, unlike many public barbeques found in Canada; simply walk up press a button and a large metal surface starts to heat up.
As we approached the barbeque we heard the sound of drunken teenagers. Dylan turned to me “dammit I think It’s schoolies, I forgot”. I had no idea what ?schoolies? was but I’d soon find out.