Woke up early in our dorm, delighted to find it was still just the two of us (or someone had come and left in the middle of the night without us knowing!!). Got dressed and checked out, putting our bags into a storage locker and having breakfast before heading out for the day. Byron Bay has a reputation of being a famous beach town and it was lovely, but not entirely sure what the fuss is about. I could have happily lived there as a local but, for us, a day as a tourist was plenty! The beaches are great but we’ve already seen spectacular beaches along this coast (and are due to see even better ones shortly!!). The vibe in the town is very surf culture meets hippie, resulting in lots of barefooted people padding around the streets and supermarkets. That being said, it was lovely – possibly because it wasn’t as crowded as it could be – and we had a great time wandering through the back streets on our way to the Cape Byron State Conservation Park. We started on the Cape Byron walking track and, before too long, we were treated to views of dolphins swimming adjacent to the morning kayak group (lucky bastards!). You can see how close they got…We continued along the path, encountering brush turkeys along the way and stopping off at various view points to admire the spectacular views and watch the migrating whales pass by… That’s right – we have now seen humpback whales for five days in a row. Jayne is beside herself and I think, now more than ever, I have a real chance of convincing her to move here!! The walking path hugs the headland as it dips and soars towards the lighthouse. We managed to spot some more whales passing at the most easterly point of Australia.We stayed for ages at the lighthouse, admiring the view and being wowed by the passing marine life. So much so that any plans of renting a surf board before our coach this afternoon went out the window as the time flew by as we sat and enjoyed. Walking back down towards the town, the path went through beautiful forests and it felt like we were the only people there for miles. Descended upon the beach and decided that, even though we couldn’t go surfing, didn’t mean we couldn’t have fun in the water so we jumped in!! Swimming in the ocean in the middle of winter in Australia is a lot more agreeable than doing the same thing back in the UK or Ireland!! Back at the hostel for a shower and a late lunch before catching our coach to Brisbane. Three hours later, we were walking through the streets to the YHA. I sorted out laundry whilst Jayne went to Dominos to get us something for dinner. Sat on the roof top terrace, enjoying the eye-popping views of the city before going to bed.
Friday 29th July 2016
Since we were able to keep the rental car until 9am this morning, we decided to use and abuse it by driving ourselves to the view point to get some last minute glimpses of humpback whales before we go up the coast to Byron Bay. Parked the car in the car park and headed around the cliff top walk to find a quiet spot to sit down and wait. Didn’t have to wait very long before a mother and calf passed by, quite close to the shoreline, and we even spotted a breaching whale way off in the distance as the sun slowly began to rise, changing the colours of the sea as the waves rippled towards the shore. Had some apples as we watched the whales before getting back in the car and returning it to the Thrifty depo. Apparently, I was the first person in 5 years to park it properly (i.e. not in the way!). Most people just leave it in the middle of the forecourt… Walked back to the hostel, enjoying the warm sun with our iced coffees. Packed up our bags and checked out before having some breakfast. Got a lift to the bus stand from Craig, who gave us loads of tips about what to do, where to go and what to see during our time in Australia. A pretty uneventful 3.5 hour coach journey to Byron Bay where we both had a blog to catch up on and some other bits and pieces to do. I finished my book ‘Miss Peregrine’s School for Peculiar Children’. I have to say that, whilst it wasn’t too bad, I’m getting a bit fed up of books that are written which clearly decide half way through to turn the story into a trilogy. Haven’t had any plot resolution from that book and I’m not sure I really want to read the next ones… Oh well. Arrived in Byron Bay and dropped our bags off at the YHA. The lovely Carrie at reception gave us a map and told us what we could do whilst in town. Clearly a ‘sleep all day and party all night’ kinda place, she pointed out all the good pubs that were open until 3am with live music! There really isn’t much else to do here apart from surf, walk and party! Decided to walk along the beach, stopping to enjoy the acoustic guitar set that was happening on the entrance to the beach. The stroll along the beach was beautiful and quiet as we watched surfers, dolphins and more humpback whales bob up and down between the waves. There were even bush turkeys strolling along the beach next to us, clearly looking for any scraps of food that people may have left lying around after their picnics. Jayne was braver than me as she wadded through the knee high water to the view point to see if she could get a better view of the whales. I sat on a rock and watched the surfers do incredibly well on what looked like very small waves as the sun set behind the mountains in the distance. On the return journey down the beach, the acoustic guitar players were joined by a couple of guys swinging around flaming batons. This town really reminds me of Montalivet with its, rather expensive, hippie dippy vibe. Headed back to the hostel via Aldi and the bottle shop to get some essential supplies for dinner. Vegetable gnocchi with white wine for dinner before climbing into bed to watch a couple of Friends episodes with popcorn and some peppermint chocolate.
Thursday 28th July 2016