So me and Mitzee were on our way to Byron, a 600+km trip that would take around seven hours. I'd like to tell you the drive was exciting but it really wasn't. I drove, ate McDonalds, drove, drank water, drove, listened to the radio and drove. The only reasonably exciting things that happened was me needing thee toilet desperately twice, nearly running out of fuel and being randomly pulled over for an alcohol test by the police. I really wanted to pick up a hitch-hiker, but during the whole trip there was not one to pick up. It made the drive lonely, it's lucky that I'm an entertaining chap and can entertain myself pretty easily. I finally got to Byron at about 7pm. I set off at 10am and checked into the hostel. I had a quick subway and then blagged my way through the online scuba theory tests. The only thing to do now was chill out and get an early night ready for the start of the course the next day.
The course started at 8, which meant the earliest morning get up for me for a while. I arrived at the course a tad early and waited around for a bit for the other student, there was one woman in her 50's doing the course, two 16 year old whipper snapper lads and a guy who joined late maybe a year or two younger than me. We started the day off filling in necessary paperwork and then an exam. It was a fifty question exam and you had to get forty correct to pass. I panicked, I read questions wrong. I didn't know what I was doing. I hadn't had an exam since uni, a full seven years ago! Christ that makes me sound old! I wasn't surprised I had failed the exam, but it was only by one mark. Tragedy! It was ok I would just be made to stay behind like a naughty school kid and do another exam! Brilliant! Next up was learning about the equipment and how to rig it up. We then had to do 16 laps of the pool and tread water for 16 minutes. My recent lack of exercise made this tough but I pulled through. Next up was learning a set of scuba skills including learning how to ascend and how to locate you regulator (breathing thingy) I did ok, I had trouble with some bits, mainly the weight belt, but excelled at others mainly clearing my mask which I had to do a lot. I then re took my exam which I passed narrowly getting 41 out of 50. The first day wasn't bad, but it felt weird being back in a school sort of environment. Plus I think I didn't enjoy it more because I expected to do better. I could always improve though. My next task of the day was getting some food. The only thing I had eaten all day was three cheese slices in the morning that was on the free shelf of our hostel. I did the sensible thing and went to Subway next door to get a foot long tuna sub. I then went to Aldi to get a few essentials and then gave Bobby and Vicky a text to see what he was up to. Bobby and Vicky were in Innisfail working on the Banana farm when I was there. I saw on Facebook that they were in Byron when I was going back so we arranged to meet up for a few drinks. Now I'll admit to you I was never the greatest Bobby fan, in fact I thought he was a bit of a dick. But in all fairness I had a good time and I've changed my opinion somewhat, now I would be happy to join him for the occasional pint. I met up with him and Vicky we caught up, and then we shot a few hoops before going to Cheeky Monkeys for tea and a few beverages. We got a few free drinks and Bobby won a free surf lesson taking a photo of the Hawaii flag. It appeared Byron was a pretty lucky place for me and my friends. We drank some more and invented drinking games, some good, some awful and then the free drinks ran out so we decided to call it a night as they were off to Nimbin the next day and I had the second day of my open water dive course. Like I said though it was a good night.
The next day my alarm went off at 6.30am, I didn't really want to get up and snoozed the alarm a few times. Not something I don't think my roommates liked. It didn't matter they were checking out today anyway. There was a chance that the dive might be called off due to weather conditions, so I hung around the phone waiting for some news. There was nothing so I was just about to get up when I heard a buzz, it was my phone. Yeah the diving and snorkelling had been called off because of a swell in the ocean, whatever that means. It was possible that I might not get to dive until Tuesday and even that wasn't guaranteed. They could refer me but that would cost $65 a dive and I needed to do four. But on the other hand I had costs to stay in Byron and costs of Mitzee the hire car. I was in a situation, it was a situation where I normally liked to have a pint and chat things over with Tom but he was in Sydney. I decided to text him, he wasn't very helpful at first and then he pointed out that I would say "Go Hard, Or Go Home." He had a strong point and with that I set the wheels in motion for staying however long necessary to complete the course. I only had free messages to Australian numbers so I asked Tom if he could contact the hire car company for me and see if I could extend the hire term. I booked one more night at the hostel and then relaxed for the rest of the day.
The next day wasn't started great, again the swell was too big in the ocean again and Tom said he couldn't get through to the hire car agency because the branch was closed t weekends. It looked like the dive course was off and I would go to Sydney with nothing to show from my adventures apart from a couple of new movies on my hard drive. But then I found another number and passed it on to Tom. It was a result! The car was extended. I extended my hostel and it looked like everything was coming together. I celebrated by walking to the lighthouse a 6 kilometre round trip where I saw a couple of decent views. I never made the actual lighthouse because I missed the turn off but it was enough for me in the baking heat anyway. I got back and posted an add on gumtree to see if anyone needed a lift to Sydney on Thursday and wanted to split fuel costs. I then went out and found $4 coronas. I had a couple and then went and got a pie for tea before heading back to the hostel and relaxing with a movie or two.
I woke up in the morning with a message interested in travelling to Sydney with me. They were a 24 year old female from England called Jen. I arrange to meet her for lunch that day. Before lunch I had some spare time so decided to take Mitzee for a spin and take her to see the Big Prawn in Ballina. The Prawn was ok, but could have been better; it was not maintained very well and was faded and covered in graffiti. Still it was another big statue to add to the list. I then went to the beach to meet Jen; she was a bit of a hippy character with shortish hair and loads of ear piercings. It appears she likes travelling around the world to go to festivals. She recommended going to this vegetarian restaurant she had been to before, I obliged even though I hated the idea. Meat is too good to be a vegetarian! Going to a veggie restaurant was my idea of hell but to be fair the food was reasonably tasty. We discussed our travels and other things and then I gave her a lift back home. She lived out of town. I pulled into her farm and it was only a bloody banana farm. I thought I was done with seeing them b****** banana plants for a while. I drove back and called in at the dive shop to see if there was any news on when we would be diving. There was news we would be going out the next day! Great news things were coming together now. I went out had a Mexican and then watched a film called Bra Boys. My intention was to stay in because I had an early start the next day, but I was drawn in by Aquarius and there Jelly wrestling event they were holding. I had a few beers watched a few rounds. It was chaos the girls involved were mental and were more bothered about getting each other naked than taking the sock off which they needed to do. I got my sensible head on though and left to get a kebab and yes you guessed it retire to bed with a movie.
The next day, I was up early for the course. I was slightly nervous and just wanted to make sure I remembered everything. We set up everything and made our way to out to Julian Rocks for our first dive. The sea was quite choppy and made me feel a tad sea sick. But I got geared up and went in the water for my first dive. We started to descend and then all of sudden no more than 1 meter under water, I started panicking. I have no idea why I did but I did and went back to the surface. I regained my composure though and got down though. Our first dive was just a swim around so we could get use to the ocean. We saw many fish and a wobbegong shark. They are only a fairly small shark, they will bite if you get in their way but they are often just chilling on the bottom minding their own business. We went back to base swapped our gear over and went out for the second dive. The current had got much stronger so this time we had a drift dive. We did some skills under water and had a swim. We didn't see anything of note apart from a dead Cray fish. I was pleased with the dive as I semt a lot more comfortable in the water. We headed back to base, filled in our log books and we were done for the day. The rest of the day I just chilled out. For one of the only times on my East Coast trip I didn't have an alcoholic beverage. The most excitement I got was a short trip to dominoes for a cheap Tuesday pizza.
I woke up nervous and excited. It was the last day of the open water course. I had a feeling it might be called off because of a massive storm during the night. But everything was good to go. We got our gear ready and headed out to Julian Rocks. For my third dive I had to get geared up in the water, this was the bit I was dreading. The first part was easy getting the BCD on, it was just that blasted weight belt but after 5 minutes I finally managed it. We went down into the water and were doing skills when a Leopard shark casually approached us. Leopard sharks aren't as scary as they sound; they don't even have any teeth! We completed are skills and then had a swim around the rocks looking at different fish. We went back to base swapped our gear over and went out for the second dive. I felt extremely confident during this dive and nailed everything perfectly. We some a Stone Fish, a Stingray and about 3 Wobbegong Sharks. We even got time to have a little snorkel where we saw a turtle and even more Wobbegong sharks. We headed back to base and filled out the relevant paperwork meaning I was now a certified open water scuba diver. I was chuffed to bits and all this thanks to a game of Bingo! I headed back to the hostel and chilled out for a bit. It was my last night in Byron and the fact I had a passed my course meant celebratory drinks were definitely in order. First though I got Mitzee ready for her road trip to Sydney tomorrow. I got her packed up and then watched TRON Legacy in the TV room, it wasn't bad, it kept me that engrossed I missed the beginning of the Trivia quiz at Aquarius. I got there had a few cheeky snakebites, helped a few teams out especially on the sport round and the got a kebab and went back as we were setting off early the next day.
I picked Jen and her French friend up Winnie from there Banana farm. Te trip was ok, it was very quite though Winnie didn't speak the best Eglish and Jen wasn't really my cup of tea. She was a bit of a hippy, she was the type of person who would be well suited to Nimbin. We didn't really have much in common other than that we were both going to Sydney so conversation as sparce at best! On a ositive note to the trip though I did get my photo with three big statues these included The Big Knight, The Big Bunch of Bananas and The Big Banana which you could walk through. I would have visited more on the way such as The Big Axe or The Big Mosquito but Jen and Winnie didn't seem that enthusiastic so I put my foot down and headed to Sydney.
We arrived in Sydney at about 7pm. We had made decent time on the 775 kilometer trip. Tom was there to meet me and that was it for the East Coast Adventure. But now a new adventure was starting in Sydney!!
Until the next update Stay Safe and Take Care