A good friend once told me something so simple, yet so powerful that it has managed to stick with me for many years. The mantra that she continues to live by and continues to pass on to those who have the pleasure of meeting her;
“Do what makes you happy until it doesn’t make you happy anymore, then change.”
At the end of the day I couldn’t agree more – you only have one life to live so why spend any time not living it to the absolute fullest.
Since living in Australia, the majority of my time has been spent within Sydney and it’s surrounding areas (Bondi Beach). I was nearing close to 5 months when my travel itch started acting up again, and I knew it was time to seek out another adventure. With my “good friend” recently making the bold move to leave Bondi and head 10 hours north to Byron Bay alone – I knew this beautiful beach town would be the perfect spot for a mini holiday. Byron Bay can be best described as a small hippie beach town where shoes are not necessary. Dreadlocks, tie-dye and sarongs are the norm, and surfing is considered an everyday activity.
Bright and early in the morning I headed to the airport to catch a flight to Byron Bay’s gateway airport – Ballina Airport. A short transfer bus later compliments of Byron Easy Bus and I finally arrived in Byron. As soon as I arrived, I made my way to my straight to the Peterpans Travel shop! It seems to be a pattern that when I arrive in a new Australian city, I find myself instantly magnetized to the Peterpans shop.
While in Byron Bay, I stayed at the centrally located hostel called Nomads. It is close to all shops (grocery, clothing and bottle shops) and only a couple minutes walk from the beach – it is the perfect backpacker haven. Nomads have a great social atmosphere and within days of staying there you easily can feel a sense of hominess. When I first arrived at Nomads, a friend who had been living at Nomads for over two weeks pleasantly greeted me outside the front door. Following checking into my room, we spent the remainder of the day wandering the streets, grabbing lunch and heading out to the beach.
Byron’s beach is absolutely stunning and stretched until it reached the Cape Byron Lighthouse. This lighthouse is an active lighthouse, which is the easternmost point of mainland Australia. A short distance from the centre of Byron Bay, you and some friends can experience this amazing lighthouse walk.
Alongside the countless hours of “chilling” that I partook in while in Byron, my craving for adventure ramped up and I chose to complete my first ever skydive. Early in the morning, I woke up feeling more excited than I have felt in a while. When we arrived at the jump site we were quickly checked in, measured for harnesses and then patiently waited our turn. After 3 failed attempts at completing a skydive in 2012 (2 cancelled for wind, 1 cancelled for a storm) I was ecstatic that today was going to be the lucky day! So much anticipation had gone into my 14,000ft jump, and I was more ready then I have ever been.
When it was finally my groups’ turn, we meet up with our tandem jumper and made our way on board the plane. Within minutes of being in the plane we were airbourne and there was only one-way down… no turning back now! As we got higher and higher, I noticed the 3 lights directly located in front of me on the plane. The first light lite up as soon as we were 1 mile away from 14,000ft, the second was ½ a mile and the third was when we reached the drop zone height. As soon as we reached the drop zone altitude of 14,000ft the solo divers had no hesitations in throwing open the doors and immediately exiting the plane. I was the third to jump in my group – as I watched my fellow skydivers be thrown out of the plane, I started to freak out (in a good way). Thankfully my tandem diver didn’t hesitate to push me forward and throw me out regardless. Within seconds of the free-fall, I knew this was going to be addicting. Amongst all the crazy adventures I have been on in my life, I can confidently say that skydiving tops them all. You really need to try it out – it’s only 14,000 ft!
I felt invincible for the remainder of my day following my skydive. When I returned to Byron, I spent the rest of my day soaking up the sun on the beach, grabbing lunch and catching up with some new hostel friends. It was my last night in Byron before heading back to Sydney, and the evening was spent grabbing a cheap dinner at Cheeky Monkeys and later dancing the night away on the tables.
Within such a short period of time, Byron Bay managed to find itself in a special place in my heart. It gives me a huge sense of relief and excitement to know that in the next couple months I will be calling Byron Bay my home.