Well we finally escaped the city that everyone appears to get trapped in & started on our journey of the East Coast of Oz. It was a great feeling to be 'travelling bums' once again, although the backpacks took a bit of getting used to again! Having booked a 4000km Greyhound Pass before we left UK, we had the freedom of just booking a new journey whenever we felt we'd spent enough time in a certain place & were ready to move on. We decided that with time on our side we might as well stop off at both Port Macquarie & Coffs Harbour (3 nights in each) en route to Byron Bay. The next leg of our travels got off to a typically disastrous start when our Greyhound bus pulled into a servo for a rest stop exactly halfway between Sydney & Port Macquarie & then decided it didn't want to start again! So we spent 4 hours stranded at this servo in the middle of nowhere & reaquainted ourselves with our trusty pack of cards. We soon had a bit of a group joining us & made friends with a really funny guy called Christian from Austria (who we also met up with in Coffs Harbour & again in Byron).? By the time we pulled into Port Macquarie, it was gone midnight so no chance of a free pickup from our hostel. A short taxi ride later, we pulled into the Sundowner tourist park, which was fantasic value for just $22 a night. Added bonus was that we had our 4 bed dorm to ourselves as they were obviously really quiet.
We woke on Good Friday to glorious sunshine & so pitched up for the day by the on-site pool. It was so nice to be ladies of leisure once again, enjoying the Australian weather that we'd signed up for. After telling ourselves all day that we could really get used to full-time sun worshipping again, you can imagine how gutted we all were when it started raining that same night & then didn't stop for best part of a week! So the rest of our time in Port Macquarie was pretty non-eventful. We made friends with a guy called Phil from Manchester who passed several hours playing cards with us, saw a movie & bummed around the hostel. I'm ashamed to say that we didn't even make it onto the beach once! We did find time to visit the Koala Hospital though. The staff there all work voluntarily & do an amazing job caring for the vast numbers of poor little Koalas that are injured in bush fires, road accidents or are just wild &?very unwell.?
Coffs Harbour: 7th - 10th Apr
A two hour Greyhound bus ride?brought us to Coffs Harbour mid-afternoon on Easter Sat.??We were picked up by the Barracuda Backpackers free bus & as soon as we started driving through the town of Coffs, we realised that it was all very spread out. Our hostel was about 10 mins away by car from town but only a 10 min walk to the beach. Barracuda was more like someone's house than a hostel but seemed very cosy & friendly. We were taken to our 6 bed dorm & met our new roomie, Michelle from Melbourne,?from here on known as 'Scary Mary' (yes, the?identical twin?of the one from the Phones 4 U adverts!) Within 5 mins of dumping our bags & picking our beds, we knew this woman's life story. If her version of it is true, then she is surely the most tragic & unlucky woman in the world (think Slater family in Eastenders or Mandy in Hollyoaks misfortune!) We all sat there more than a little uncomfortable as she told us the tales of her quadruplets (one of who was killed in the Bali bombings), her triplets, her twins that she claimed to be pregnant with, her first husband who was killed in Navy service and her own injuries sustained during?a train derailment &?also working in the Navy as a nurse. Being the gullible fool I am,?to begin with I was hanging off her every word & wanting to cry my eyes out! However I soon picked up on Lin & Jill exchanging very skeptical eye-brow raised looks & started to twig that maybe Scary Mary was just a little bit crazy? Our suspicions were confirmed over the next 24 hours that we spent in her company. First we all witnessed her take to her very long, thick hair with?a pair of tiny nail scissors for a DIY haircut?& then?when we awoke the next day, we?all listened to her insane tale of how that morning, while we were all peacefully asleep in the same room, paramedics?had burst in & stabbed her with a shot of adrenaline because she'd stopped breathing due to her spinal cord injury (apparently she regularly stops breathing)?& so her pacemaker had sent GPS signals to the?local hospital! Bearing in mind that her bloody snoring had woken me up a couple of times in the night, I don't think?I could have slept through the events that she'd concocted, so we unanimously agreed that the poor woman was absolutely off the deep end & had to laugh at how typcial it was that we'd ended up sharing a room with her! We didn't have to worry though, having freaked out every single person staying there with her crazy gibbering, she was kicked out by the management the next day! I felt really awful for her & Scary Mary, wherever you are, I really hope you get the help that you desperately need!
On our first night in Coffs, we befriended a group of hyperactive young Swedish guys, Liam from Swindon & Bjorn from Germany. We spent a few very funny hours playing drinking games with them at the hostel & then decided into town to see what the Coffs nightlife had to offer. Our venue of choice - the Coffs Hotel, seemed at first to be the liveliest & playing half decent music but it all went downhill after the first hour! The awful DJ seemed to have such a limited music selection that he ended up playing some songs 3 times over?within the few hours we were there & there were so many drunken freaks & weirdos (few of them older than 15) that I had to walk outside just to prove to myself that I hadn't time-warped to a night out in Croydon!
It pretty much rained the whole time we were in Coffs Harbour, so once again, we didn't even make it to the beach. Instead, we spent the best part of a day playing Monopoly & our new favourite card game 'President' with anyone we could find to join in. Aren't we the intrepid travellers eh? On Easter Monday, we decided to go horse riding so 'Snapper' our hostel bus driver took us half-hour away to the Valery Trails & spent a couple of hours riding in the bush, which was great fun with beautiful scenery.