Tag Archives: tea tree lake

10 things I did in Australia that I’ve never done before

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Sunday kangeroo roast anyone?

Pre-school graduations, eating kangeroo meat, and serious sunburn were all part of my fun in Australia. Whilst it may be a very Westernised country with a mass British population, there were still plenty of things that I experienced for the first time during my month and a half stay in Australia. I:

  1. Got sunburnt. Okay, maybe I’m stretching the truth here a little bit, but I have never got as badly sunburnt as I did when I spent too long on Broken Head beach in the midday sun. Mad dogs and Englishwomen. Clearly the people I was hanging out with were mad. My thighs hurt so badly and I got through a bottle of aloe vera after-sun within a couple of days. Ouch.
  2. Ate kangaroo. I worked at an event where they served up kangaroo burgers and I watched the guests chomp away, complimenting the chef as they did so. I wanted to try some. The next week my friends cooked up a roast dinner; kangaroo styley. It tasted gamey. Kangeroo meat is a good option because it’s so sustainable and, apparently, because kangeroos aren’t hooved beasts, their impact on the environment is also diminished.
  3. Slept with a giant spider somewhere in my room. I got too tired of hunting it that even the prospect of it being truly dangerous and life-threatening wasn’t enough to keep me awake. Not only did I get to experience this Huntsmen spider, but I also had the privilege of seeing some more of Australia’s recognisable creatures: cane toads, wallabies, and a kangaroo in the distance. But no koalas. Dammit.
  4. Swam in a tea-tree lake. Okay, I didn’t really swim. The spot that I chose for a drip wasn’t really deep enough. Maybe I should have gone to the proper tea tree lake at Lennox Head. Regardless, it was a gentle, beautiful outing designed to heal my body and soul. Or at least sort my skin out.
  5. Did RSA training. To work in any establishment in Australia that serves alcohol you need to get your Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) qualification. I can’t say that the course was the most interesting afternoon of my life, but I got work out of it and I made a new friend. Bonus.
  6. Swam and surfed in warm seas. To not start a shivering frenzy within a few minutes of getting in the water was amazing. It was still refreshing, but I never got bored of the warmth. At night it was a little chillier but still pretty pleasant, and a scattering of phosphorescents made a midnight dip even more special.
  7. Kept an eye out for sharks. Back in England, sharks were never something that I would have thought about whilst out for a swim or a surf. But in Australia, the bliss of the warmer waters means that our sharky friends make the odd appearance. My eyes were open but I saw nothing other than schools of dolphins. Twice over. Happy times.
  8. Broke a surfboard. This was horrible. I hadn’t been in Byron long and I managed to crumple the nose of my friends minimal. Badly. It put me off getting in the water (if it’s mine, fine, if it’s someone else’s, more hesitant). And then not too long later, the bike helmet that I had borrowed from another friend got nicked. Bad times.
  9. Went to a pre-school graduation. Oh yes. Really. Those heading off to public school sported capes and mortar boards just like in a proper university graduation ceremony. If it hadn’t been for the join-in song of ‘we’re going to big school… we’re going to big school… and that is really cool’ I could have been fooled: the kids posed professionally for photos, picked up their scrolls and took it very seriously whilst parents wiped their eyes. I don’t know really how common practise this is in Oz, but I did wonder: if this is the norm for each school transition, by the time they do actually graduate from uni will they be so blasé and bored by the whole thing?
  10. Confirmed some Aussie traits. I learnt that Australians are generally very positive people, which I loved, but the juxtaposition between boozy and healthy (very anti-smoking, pro sport) was a strange one; Aussies haven’t gotten to the ridiculous levels of being PC like we have in Britain, but some things can just come across racist to a foreigner (such as using the word ‘wog’ to refer to southern European immigrants); and words are nearly always shortened to the most simplistic syntax.

So many other experiences, wonderful times, good people. Thanks Australia.

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Have you ever swum in a tea tree lake?

Until last week, I hadn’t either. I don’t think I ever actually knew that they existed. There are a few dotted around the Byron Shire area of New South Wales in Australia, so after a busy morning working and sweating in high humidity, I decided that I would wash away the day with a dip in a nearby tea tree lake. I also hoped that it might give my skin a bit of a treat.

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Edges of the tea tree lake, NSW, Australia

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On the banks of the tea tree lake, NSW, Australia

The previous night had brought with it a storm straight out of the movies; sheet lightning blinding the sky, building thunder rumbles. And lots of rain. The tea tree lake was bound to be full.

Off I set along the beach, a wide and perfectly sandy stretch of seashore. I scuffed my feet along the fine grains, never tiring of the squeaking sound. Such simple things.

The first post-storm sign was at the mouth of the lake-to-sea-stream; often running dry or as a gentle trickle, today this bubbling cola mix that I had mistaken for sewerage when I first arrived was ripping apart the sandbanks as it surged and blended with the warm, blue ocean. Not that the sea gulls cared: they clustered and bobbed around, seemingly enjoying the frothy, health-giving mixture.

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Gone swimming! By the tea tree lake, NSW

‘It’s the best time to be out here’, said a local guy who showed up just as I was chilling out by myself in the shallow depths of an area that is often empty. His lips were zinced white. ‘Tide’s going out so it pulls away all the algae’ he added.

It made me wonder: if algae was best avoided, what else should I be aware of in this place? I’d already asked some friends whether there was anything to watch out for and they had been pretty blasé. Sure there were snakes in the bush, but just don’t trample around into the bush.

When I’d arrived at the river and headed up towards the lake, I basically got stuck. Levels were too high not to go into the bush. So I had paddled up river and settled on a spot just short of the main lake.

So is there anything in the water that I should look out for?’ I asked Mr. White Lips. It turns out not. He ducked under, splashed around a bit, we chatted and then he left me once again to my solitude.

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Taking a moment to observe, think and be

Warmer waters skimmed the surface, cooler currents pushed through underneath. I submerged myself, assured that all the little fish were harmless and that no nasties were going to interrupt my Zen state of play.

I sat in the shallows and listened and watched. The sound of the ocean was less audible, even the bird song seemed to melt into the distance as the splendour of the sun shining through clear red and yellow and green tinted waters dominated. A visual treat. And so peaceful.

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Colours and reflection in the tea tree lake, NSW

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Colours and reflection in the tea tree lake, NSW

I expected, no, hoped to emerge an oil covered, beautifully skinned being. Neither happened.

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