Happy Day in Byron Bay

Today we went sea kayaking in Byron Bay! A lot of us woke up sore from surfing, but we were right back at it this morning. Round two of wet suits, plus life jackets, helmets, and paddles and we were ready to go. I ended up in a kayak with one of the guides, so I got to hear a lot about some of the wildlife and the history of Byron Bay, as well as some pretty terrible jokes. My favorite: “Did you hear about the baked beans that travelled around Australia? They ended up in Cairns!” (it’s way funnier when you know that Cairns sounds like “Cahns” when pronounced in an Australian accent).

I learned today that the lighthouse in Byron Bay is the most easterly point of Australia, meaning that while kayaking we were the most easterly kayakers in Australia! My guide also told me that the top of Mount Warning is the first place in Australia that sees the sunrise. Mount Warning is a volcanic plug, formed on a shield volcano that last erupted about 24 million years ago. It’s a significant place for the Bundjalung aboriginal people, where they used to perform rituals and ceremonies. Because of this, they ask that no one climbs the mountain (even the parks services here advise against it, but don’t expressly forbid it).

We also learned a lot about the wildlife. Whales migrate north in the winters, and they head past Cape Byron every year. We saw whales breach, tail slap, and spray steam from their blowholes dozens of times while we were out on the water! Byron Bay also has a resident dolphin pod with about 400 members – we were lucky enough that 2 different smaller groups of dolphins, likely moms and young dolphins, came within a few meters of our kayaks. Loggerhead turtles are also common in the area, but we unfortunately didn’t see any during our trip.

I had a blast getting to hear a local’s perspective during the kayak trip – from wildlife and history to cracking jokes about the more gullible tourists. The guides made a big joke of pretending to be amazed by seeing seagulls and called them “flying Norwegian racing penguins” to get a laugh out of us. I couldn’t have had a better time!

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-Katie Marrison

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