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 we stopped in Coffs Harbour, visited the city’s “Big Banana” and headed to a nearby beach to re-charge on our tour up the east coast of Australia.
The swim was a great escape from our time on the Pacific Highway. It was also an escape from the short deadline we had to make our way north to Cairns with the rented RV. Despite the complications of the trip it was just another sunny day at the beach once the sand was beneath our feet. My AU deadlines and the hundreds of pages of readings seemed to melt out of my consciousness under the summer sun. As usual Dylan snapped some shots of the beach before joining me in the water.
A bit further down the beach surfers gathered to take their turns hitting the waves. Like many of our stops, this beach was a popular surf spot. After about a half hour of swimming we showered down and made a few peanut butter sandwiches for the road. It would be a short day on the road. Dylan had his heart set on stopping in Byron Bay. Our total time on the road that day would be about four and a half hours meaning we’d have to drive eleven hours the next day.
Initially I insisted we stick to the schedule, but Dylan was convincing. Byron Bay is apparently a must see stop. After the uneventful three hour drive we arrived in Byron Bay to find that we weren’t the only ones who thought it was a must see stop. The small town of 5000 was crawling with young Australians and tourists from across the country and world. It was the beginning of summer (December in Oz) and the positive mood was contagious.
The only downside of being in Byron Bay during the start of summer was the parking situation. We’d managed to avoid any paid parks or hotels so far, but doing so in Byron Bay would be difficult. Not only was parking sparse along the beach and bar area but there was also an increased police presence?who’d likely tell us to move along if we parked in a public spot.
We stopped on a bridge with a beautiful view of Byron Bay’s beach. While we’d already stopped at a few nice spots over the course of our trip, nothing compared to Byron Bay. It’s as if the bay was specifically crafted as a picturesque spot for postcard photos. As I looked down on the bay a kite-surfer criss-crossed along the water below. Essentially surfing with a large parachute-like kite that propels the surfer?at times lifting them meters above the water.
While I watched the surf, Dylan made a phone call to his Dad asking about setting up camp on a family friend’s beach-side property for the night. We sat along the bridge watching the waves and hoping we’d hear back soon.