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Published: January 21st 2012
Staying at Tab's parents house helped keep refreshed for the journey on to Ballina. Only taking us a few hours, we drove into Ballina at about 2.30pm. Having no idea where to go, I rang Mark who directed us to his work. It was good to see Mark as it had been two years since he left the UK to live with Heather. I've known mark for around ten years, and we started chatting like we had only seen each other the other day.
Once Mark and Heather had both finished work we all got back to their place to drop our things off and sort our sleeping area, the sofa bed in the front room!
The plan was to spend the evening at the local pub where they have a quiz every week. Great, we thought we would do quite well, three English and Heather, the Australian.
The quiz started and it became clear very quickly that the majority of the questions would be about Australian news, celebrities etc. The three of us didn't really stand a chance, Heather was our best hope. Luke joined us half way through the second round. He helps Mark run the squash club. I was thinking our odds were improving with another Australian helping the cause. Luke was able to answer many of the questions, but we still failed to win the quiz :-(
We had five days planned at Ballina and whilst Mark and Heather worked, Charlie and I were able to drive about and see what is going in around the area. Ballina town is a pretty little town with a main street of shops, an amazing ice cream shop and being right on the sea's edge, many water sports are available.
We took a drive up to the famous Byron Bay, a travellers haven and surfers paradise. Driving through we saw surf shop after surf shop and camper van after camper van. The greyhound bus also stops here for the hoards of people wanting to get off and see what it's all about. We found a cool, small, independent burger bar for lunch and watch all the traffic and people go by.
Having the car opened us up to be able to do a lot more than most people. We did not have to follow the crowds on the greyhound bus or fight for towel space on the over crowded beach. We drove around Byron bay and found an area that over looked the bay. It's a beautiful place, sandy beaches, clear water and surfers hanging on to the waves.
After the day spent in and around Byron Bay we headed back to Ballina to meet Mark and Heather as I was booked up to play squash with Mark that evening. Two hours of squash later, we shared a beer and told Luke of the life back home as he was due to travel to the UK in 2012. Charlie and Heather stayed back at the house watching a film and chatting until we got back.
The weekend came and Friday night was the squash club Christmas party. Mark and Luke had been to the shop and stocked up on beer. The beers flowed all night and everyone had a good time. Charlie and Heather left about midnight leaving Luke, Mark and myself and some other club members to it. At around 2am, we caught a taxi back to the house. All was fine until the next morning. It didn't take long, but at midday, I asked Charlie if she knew where the camera was. She replied with "You wouldn't let me take it home as you wanted it for more pictures". Oh, ok, so I had the camera with me, so I needed to find it. I searched everywhere in the house, emptied out my bag and clothes, even searched the squash club, nothing. After frantically ringing the taxi company, they had nothing either. I had lost our camera. What a tool! With all of our travelling pictures on it, it had all the memories of Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and the beginnings of Australia. We were so lucky to have bought an iPad and had saved the majority of the pictures onto it. We only missed around twenty pictures, mainly of Ballina and Byron Bay.
The rest of the weekend, other than panicking about the camera, was spent having all of Heather and Mark's friends around for breakfast, going to the pub for lunch and see some famous rugby league bloke!
Monday morning came, and the day to move on. We came to the realisation that, after numerous calls and visits to the taxi rank, the taxi company did not have the camera. This meant we were reluctantly forced to buy another one.
Charlie picked a camera that is better than the one I previously had. Four years of tech improvements means a smaller camera with better features!
We were now back on the route North.
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