Byron Bay, Byron Bay, Byron Bay. Everyone keeps banging on about how good Byron Bay is and so we went. People have gotten engulfed in this place for weeks, charmed by it and more than probably drugged by it. We had arrived into the town in the evening, after changing our clocks forward an hour, not booked a place to stay as the whole way down accommodation hadn't been a problem. Byron bay however was different, everyone we asked said they were full all but 2. One offered us a double room at quite a price which we almost fully booked until we heard of a couple of beds free at one of the hostels. We cancelled our booking and made for the hostel. Now these free beds that they said they had soon disappeared and they left us without a bed for the night. We tried all the other places in town but to no avail so we went back and had a chat to the receptionist. In the end we slept in the staff dorm after they shuffled everyone around. It was a bed, we learned our lesson and booked the next 2 nights in a different hostel.
Its easy to see why everyone loves Byron Bay, its very laid back, has an awesome beach and has a relaxed approach to the recreational use of weed! If we liked the stuff we might have stayed there longer, but 3 days was enough. Besides the permanent intoxicating cloud of smoke that was whipping around the town it was really a cool place filled with decent bars, a good crowd and a lot to do.
We took a stroll down the coastline on the first day, all the way to a lighthouse that gave a great view of the coastline, both north and south of Byron Bay. It took us a lot longer than we thought, but we met a New Yorker on the way and spent the morning with her. Walk over, lunch gone and we ventured off to the beach for the afternoon, quite a productive day!! On the way back we grabbed our tea, which is worth a mention and also booked ourselves in for a surf lesson the following morning. For tea we had splashed out a little on some snapper fillets and some Balbane Bugs (a massive prawn looking thing) and cooked it up with some risotto. It was one of our culinary delights that might make its way into a British kitchen soon.
We stayed at a hostel called the Arts Factory, which as you might guess was full of Hippee'ish people, lots of weed and guitars in every corner. Our room was filled with some of the best people we could have got, a few Aussies, a Dutch guy and a guy from Tasmania and us. We had our own little party on the porch and left the rest to it. As we went to the toilet to brush our teeth, we missed out on a 2m fat python sliding right past our room. Gutted didn't come close.
I'd promised one of the guys that I would get up at 5 am
to go to watch the sunrise from the lighthouse but with only a couple of hours sleep and a surf lesson on the way I couldn't pass up on an extra few hours sleep before it. We didn't miss out on anything though, it was a cloudy morning! Our surf lesson soon came upon us, and we were raring to go. We went through all the wave safety stuff on the beach and practiced a 4 part manoeuvre of how to stand up on the board and then we were into the deep. 5 minutes in and 1 attempt later the instructor made a dash away on a board, he'd spotted a shark! We all got out of the water and the instructors went off trying to scare it away, only to come back saying there are 4 in the water and we can go back in and continue the lesson knowing that the lifeguard and his jet ski were next to us scaring them off. Somehow, it must have been everyone's adrenaline on a peak, we were back in the water and ready to go again. 5 minutes later and no waves surfed we were out of the water for good, 3 big bull sharks were coming in too. So it took 7 sharks to stop the lesson and we had to come back and try again the next day in a fingers crossed shark free ocean. They said the sharks were there because of the rain and murky water, but either way the sharks won that day!
We tried to go back that afternoon, camera in hand and spot them from one of the lookout points. We stood there for about an hour but saw nothing, the lifeguard said they were still around but all we saw were stingrays.
Day 2 on the surf lesson front and we made it into the water, without the presence of sharks. Laura smashed it and was much better at the surfing than I was, as much as I hate to say it. On her first wave she rode it all the way to the shore, it took me 2 or 3 attempts to do the same but by the end of the lesson we were riding 80% of the waves into the shore. We are now official surfers!
Other big news on that day, the bat and ball record was broken. We got to 107 hits between each other.
We got back to the hostel right in time for a bush tucker walk with a man who must have trained Mike Dundee, he knew everything about the bush and what a load of different plants can do for you. He finished his tour by hurling his spear down the road a good 50m and then taking us to the pub for a free beer. We didn't have to pay a penny for the tour either which was an added bonus. Our bus wasn't until 12 that night so we sat back in the hostel and watched the talent show, met up with some of the guys from our room and it was 11.30 pretty quickly. We had a 6 hour bus ride to look forward to.
We had 10 days before we leave Australia for New Zealand and only had Sydney really left to get to, but we didn't want to spend all our time there so decided to have a halfway house stop off at Port Macquarie, a place we knew nothing about. We didn't want to have the same accommodation fiasco as we had in Byron Bay so booked a spot to stay.
It was a small little town where some of the first English people settled in Australia therefore had some old buildings knocking about. We had 2 days here which was plenty but they were 2 awesome days. The first we spent on a massive coastal walk down to a lighthouse, much smaller than the one in Byron but much nicer too. We'd planned on walking down and busing back but spent all our money on a couple of ice creams and therefore ended up walking back too. All in all it was at least a 20km walk in the heat. Probably not a good idea. We hadn't been out for a drink on our own in a long time so went and resolved that and then the day was over.
We said that we were going to visit a koala hospital the following day, go fishing, go to the beach and go on a walk the next day. We didn't manage the koala hospital as it meant walking a hefty distance to it and we'd seen a wild koala already!! We did find the best beach of travels so far, tucked away in between 2 of the big beaches and probably only 50m wide. There were less than 10 people on it and the rocks 50m out to sea created a swimming pool of salt water. We would have stayed all day if we didn't have to eat and dragged ourselves away late in the afternoon. We spent the evening trying our best to catch a fish with a couple of rods from the hostel. They were equipped with about 10m of line and a hook big enough to pull in a great white. Needless to say we didn't catch much, I got a little one and that was all, he wasn't even 6 inches long! We had our fish less supper of Dominoes pizza and got an early nit ready for the 5am
bus to Sydney and the Blue Mountains.
I've just written this sat on a train where the air con has completely broke in 40degree heat whilst at home its snowing. I'd prefer the snow right now!
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