Byron BAE (sorry)

Claire Kelley
September 16, 2015
When you take a wrong turn on the Pacific Highway

I think it’s a familiar feeling: You go on an incredible vacation or take an excellent road trip, then try to tell someone about it when you get back and you end up saying stuff like, “Yeah, man, the beach was, like, so great! And I ate this burger that was, like, really good.”

That’s what I hope doesn’t happen here, even though I always have trouble putting the best weekends of my life into words.

Two of my flat mates and I rented a campervan this weekend for a trip up the coast to Byron Bay. We got the van from this place called Wicked Campers, which hires out probably the wildest vehicles in Australia. While we were filling out paperwork to pick up the van, the man behind the counter started laughing hysterically and said, “Sorry, I’m just laughing at your van. Hold on, I’ll pull it around.”

“MASSIVE COCK” (yep, in all caps) was painted on each side of the van next to huge, smiling roosters (get it?). We laughed hard for maybe thirty minutes and told all of the jokes. But as soon as we hit the streets of Byron Bay, a very picturesque and family friendly beach town, we felt super weird about our ride and parked the thing with increasing levels of shame.

The miles between Sydney and Byron Bay might be the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. That’s saying a lot, because I’m a passionate and experienced road-tripper. We took several wrong turns, but it never mattered because the Pacific Highway provides stupid amounts of gorgeous, green, hilly landscape in every direction.

The people of Byron Bay weren’t looking too shabby either. That town belongs in a magazine. I wanted to photograph everything. All weekend we’d see perfect couples and families and we’d just kind of yell, “ARE YOU SERIOUS? YOU’RE NOT REAL. WHERE DID YOU COME FROM? YOU’RE FAKE BE HONEST,” and things of that nature, because I still don’t understand how one town is allowed to house such a high concentration of gorgeous hippies.

The first night of our trip, we made pesto mac and cheese on a sidewalk in Coffs Harbour with our hotplate. It was delicious and we ate it right out of the pot with big spoons.

For a while we found only static on the radio, but eventually Triple J – the best radio station I’ve ever heard – came across the dial, and praise God for it. Bon Iver’s “Heavenly Father” blared on our way to Nimbin.

One morning we woke up early because the van had gotten really hot in the sun. We took a big white comforter to the beach and slept there for a few hours, and it was so lovely that I think I might have dreamt it.

We danced to Brazilian music one night after accidentally finding a brewery between back roads.

On Saturday we drove about twenty minutes from Byron Bay to Brunswick Heads. Besides the occasional family and their dog, we were the only ones on the beach there. We sat in the sand for a while singing along to a ukulele and making plans to form a band and perform covers at tiny Sydney pubs.

The combination of road tripping and camping was extra soul cleansing. I showered only once and there was never a time when sand and salt weren’t in my hair or between my toes. We saw so many people who had set up tents in little wooded hideaways or were sleeping in their cars on their way around Australia, and for a few days, it warmed me up to feel like one of them.

The inside of our obnoxious van was graffitied with Sharpie by past adventurers. Yes, we brought road maps. And luckily, an Aussie was on board to do the driving.

Sidewalk pasta is the best kind of pasta.

One of the gorgeous beaches I pranced around on this weekend. Can I live here?

The beachiest van you've ever seen, thanks to our bikinis and the pom poms in my hair.

The people of Byron Bay like to cover up the "NO" part of any "NO NUDE BATHING" signs. And I like it.

We took a wrong turn and found this???

On top of the world and/or our van.

Claire Kelley

<div>Hi, friends! My name&#39;s Claire Kelley, and I&#39;m a senior studying journalism at the always gorgeous and green Southern&nbsp;<span style="font-size: 13.0080003738403px; line-height: 1.538em;">Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. My hobbies include, but are not limited to, eating pepperoni pizza, going places&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 13.0080003738403px; line-height: 1.538em;">I&#39;ve never been, smelling the insides of books, and yelling at people who litter. I am amped to check Sydney, Australia,&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 13.0080003738403px; line-height: 1.538em;">off my bucket list, and even more excited to tell y&#39;all about it.</span></div>

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