One of many friendly Buddhas that can be spotted at Crystal Castle.

After almost seven months of living in Byron Bay, I finally made it out to Crystal Castle, a very unique tourist attraction out in the hinterland. It’s not exactly what it sounds like (i.e. there is no actual castle made of crystal), but it is pretty darn close. The property is home to thousands of beautiful crystals, including some of the world’s largest amethyst geodes! There are also beautiful gardens, a rainforest walk, and some other really special features, like a labyrinth and a world peace stupa. The weather happened to be perfect, which made the pristinely kept grounds seem even more beautiful!

Nepalese prayer flags line the pathway to the World Peace Stupa.

Crystal Castle is very inspired by East Asian cultural and spiritual practices, and all around the grounds, you can find things like prayer flags, Buddhas, and descriptions of their significance. One of my favorite features was the World Peace Stupa, a large structure that is meant to ward off negative spirits. It is customary to walk around the stupa clockwise three times while spinning these cylinders that line the sides of the structure. Before going to Crystal Castle, I’d never heard of a stupa, and my nerdy side is always stoked to gain some new knowledge. Nearby the peace stupa is a lemon tree that was covered in little (biodegradable!) cardboard tags. Upon closer inspection, I discovered that this was a ‘gratitude tree’ and every piece of cardboard had been placed on the tree by a previous visitor, after writing something for which they are thankful. I contributed my declaration of gratitude and read some of the other statements on the tree. My personal favorite was one that said, “I am grateful for waves - yeeew!!!”

Walking around Crystal Castle reminded me a lot of our very own Self Realization Fellowship at Swami’s, which helped me enjoy the experience a little bit extra. I felt very at peace there, and really appreciated all of the natural beauty and positive energy.