Co-Founder Caroline Danehy Semester Abroad
Three weeks ago today I arrived in Sydney, Australia. It was a short 22-hour trip from New York, and while I thought my body was permanently stuck in a seated chair position, I headed right to the hostel to start my semester abroad. As we went on a walking tour around the Sydney Harbour, looking at the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, it started to set in that I would be “down under” for the next five months.
Perhaps it’s the fact that whenever I travel with my family my Mom tries to “hike the Grand Canyon – and a half”, but I feel like I haven’t stopped moving; trying to see and do as much as I can while I’m here. I’m blown away by how much I’ve loved being here so far.
As I came into winter, I expected it to be a little like what we experience in the Northeast, but I was way off. Each day the weather has been 65 or 70 degrees and sunny – making it the perfect weather to explore and plan adventures. The people here are incredibly friendly and outdoor-oriented. I’ve frequently come across surfers on the buses or trains in wetsuits with their board in hand.
It’s a culture focused on clean living and sharing experiences in a social setting; everywhere I look I’m reminded of the Fair Harbor Lifestyle.
The Outback in Uluru
To highlight a place, in particular, the first week I arrived my friends and I booked a last-minute trip to the Outback in Uluru. A short two-hour plane ride and we were in the middle of absolute nowhere. While the weather was a bit unpredictable, 80 during the day and 30/40 at night, I only brought a change of clothes because of the extra carry on charge. As the plane descended, I could barely spot a building in sight. We met our awesome tour guide at the airport, Dariah, and headed straight into the middle of the desert in our bus. We woke up for sunrises and sunsets, hiked the canyons and rocks during the day, and sat around the campfire at night. We’d barbecue some ‘roo as they call it, then head to the next destination.
As we arrived at the desert campsite for our first night I was expecting to unpack some tents from the back of our camper, but they never came out. When I asked where the tents were, Dariah replied by saying that ‘you couldn’t see the stars that way’. Yup, we slept in sleeping bags on the desert floor for three nights. While it was a bit unexpected, and we did wake up with dingo tracks around us in the morning, the stars were unbelievable. The Milky Way Galaxy filled the sky and we were able to see six different star constellations.
While I’ve never quite felt dirtier and in greater need of a clean shower and clothes, Uluru was a trip that I’ll never forget.
This past weekend I ventured an hour plane ride north out of Sydney to Byron Bay. Growing up outside of New York City, I’ve succumbed to the intense pressures of always feeling like I need to be doing something and planning my next step. While visiting Byron and meeting the locals, I was reminded to stop and just enjoy the present moment. While that might sound cliché, it’s exactly how I felt.
This boho coastal town is home to secluded beaches, local surf shops, and some of the best gelato I’ve ever had. Whether it was the live music playing on nearly every corner, outdoor pubs or the fact that everyone wears flip flops, I was constantly reminded of Jake and the Fair Harbor lifestyle.
The first morning I wandered out of our Air b&b and stumbled upon a reserved park. As I walked into the woods and came across a parking lot with vans and people cooking up some breakfast, I followed some surfers towards the sandy dunes. Within a few yards the trees began to break and the ocean came into view. It was a completely isolated, untouched beach – unlike anything I’d ever seen before. The mountains were to my left and complete white sand was to my right. Surfers in front of me were enjoying some fresh breaks of the day and I walked a few steps to the right, sat down, amazed at what I had just come across. While I felt the sudden urge to leave and wander somewhere else, I reminded myself that I didn’t need to be anywhere or do anything at that exact moment.
We started that night off at the Railway Bar and continued from there. The people were incredibly friendly and down for a good time. Along the way I met Charlie, a Noosa local who frequently visits Byron, and reached out to him after the trip to answer a few questions about the beach spot:
How long are you staying in Byron? What initially brought you to the beach town?
I usually drive to Byron from Noosa on a Friday afternoon and return on a Sunday, yes it's only a short stay but it's soo worth it. Such a vibrant little town with a great atmosphere. Always has epic live music and always meet new people.
How does Byron compare to Noosa?
Noosa is like a retirement village compared to Byron, but don't get me wrong Noosa is one of the most stunning places on earth
What’s your favorite way to travel?
My favorite way to travel is in my van, which I have been working on the last few months to make it so I can live out of it
Throughout my travels, each place has had its unique charm, while still holding true to its relaxed Australian nature and friendly people. I am excited to see where my next adventure takes me.