No frogs were harmed in the making of this image. Photo: Blake Haslau

Well guys, I learned something new last week. There is, in fact, actual life occurring inland of the coast. Who knew!? The surf was pretty lackluster, so some friends and I took a drive through the hinterlands of Byron Shire, which, by the way, are the green rolling hills that dreams are made of. We passed macadamia orchards, cattle farms, and the occasional fruit and veggie stall, and made our way to The Channon, a tiny little town about an hour away from Byron Bay. And yes, the official name of the city is “The” Channon.

This small hippie village is home to a campground, a pub, a general store, and an art gallery... those aren’t just the highlights, that’s literally all there is. This past Sunday, The Channon Markets were on, held at the campground. These markets have vendors selling handmade crafts, vintage clothing, teas and jams, fresh food, and more. While its all pretty standard as far as market goods go, the rainforest that surrounds the campground is what really makes the monthly event so special.

After we filled up on overpriced (but delicious) juices and falafel wraps, we drove further into the wilderness, to Nightcap National Park. I was singing the Jurassic Park theme the whole time, because the deeper we got into the rainforest, the more I expected a velociraptor to jump out in front of the car. When we finally parked and changed into our swimsuits, we began walking down the trail to Protesters Falls, named after protests that took place in this region in the 70s, which were in order to protect the forestland from development.

In the 86 degree heat, all I could think about was jumping into the cool waters below the waterfall, so you can imagine my disappointment upon reading a sign that stated swimming was not permitted. Apparently, the falls are home to an endangered species of frog, which can be harmed by the oils on our skin. So, instead, we said “oooooh, ahhhh!” at the waterfall, and climbed around the perimeter of the pool. We didn’t see any of the frogs, but there were plenty of water dragons and cool birds to satisfy our wildlife craving.

On our drive back toward The Channon, we saw some cars parked on the side of the road, with no buildings or trailheads in sight. Of course, this is international language for “something cool is off the road here,” so we stopped and traipsed into the bush. Lo and behold, there was a beautiful waterhole, perfect for swimming (apparently no frogs in these parts)! We dunked in, embracing the sweet relief from the harsh sun. After watching some kids jump off a big rock and determining that the water was very deep, we decided it was reasonably safe to have a crack at the jump. No matter how old I get, that thrill of jumping into water from up high will never fade!

I definitely want to make the most of my time in Australia and go on more excursions like this one! Although this saltwater baby doesn’t like to stray too far away from the beach, a little bit of freshwater once in a while can’t hurt.