Well we have now left Byron Bay. It was a true blue Aussie experience! We were there for over a week so please make yourselves comfortable while we bore you with the details.
It rained almost every day, but only for an hour or so - other than that the weather was amazing, the beaches stretched as far as the horizon and the people were very wierd/cool (not sure which most of the time). It's the kind of place where footwear is optional and wearing items that cover any part of your torso is frowned upon (for men that is...), even in restaurants.
There are several beaches that form Byron Bay but we spent most of our time on Main Beach and The Wreck (named because of the 100 year-old shipwreck that rests 20 metres from the shore). Surf was pretty good (that's for you Dad!), and the sea was refreshing (although Steph's word would be freezing). What was strange about these beaches were the Brush Turkeys that frequent the surrounding dunes and woodland. They are bigger, uglier and more confident than any turkey I've ever seen. One day we were cooking breakfast on one of the many free BBQs that are scattered along the coast line - and at most beauty spots - and one of the wrinkly faced birds decided to jump on the prep surface next to the grill. If only we had some cranberry and stuffing and Christmas would have come early.
We walked a good 4km to the lighthouse which is part of the most easterly point in Australia. The pathway was littered with 2ft long lizards and even more ugly Brush Turkeys! We have literally never been so far from home. We saw a pod of Bottle Nosed Dolphins from up there, along with some surfing turtles. Pretty cool. However we have to do this ridiculously long, hot, arduous climb twice due to the fact that our camera battery died when we first reached the summit. In Steph's eyes: if you haven't got photos it might as well not have happened. Which is fair enough because we did get some great pics up there.
What we didn't get a photo of however was our first wild snake encounter. It was outside the lighthouse stalking a grasshopper. It reared it's head and went for the strike but completely missed. It'll starve to death before it catches anything going by that performance. Rubbish.
Byron is a very laid back town during the day and a good 60% of it's shops are surf related. At night it livens up and the parties get started. On the first night Steph and I had a few drinks with a canadian and a young guy from Bournemouth, who managed to blag us some free beer. Good times!
The laid back feel is taken a step further by the Lounge Cinema which is filled with beds, beanbags and sofas rather then those stiff, smelly seats with no leg room that you get everywhere else. We went to see Social Network, but I won't bore you with a review.
Despite being further from home than either of us have ever been we managed to bump into Briony who I worked with at Pro Direct. We were at a BBQ at our hostel and she was sitting right behind us. Small world.
Our hostel was good, but we had a weird german guy in our room who we named West (due to his pronunciation of 'vest' - of which he had several). He was a bit of a stoner and liked to talk. A lot of what he said was quite obviously, at best, stretching the truth. He learnt all the english he knows in 3 days. He had $30,000 saved for a couple months of travelling but stayed in hostels anyway, etc,etc. On his last night he was so intoxicated that he dragged his mattress outside and slept in the dirt. Weird.
He wasn' the only eccentric at our hostel. We had a few hippies above us who played songs, slapped tamborines and sang 'these boots are made for walking' until the early hours. Ironically they probably don't even own a pair of boots or any other sort of footwear from what we saw.
The day before we left BYron we decided to go to the Beach Hotel to have some food and drink. They have a nice deck area where it would be nice to sit in the sun. I say 'would' because there was an impressive thunder and lightening display that day. One of the bolts was so close that we genuinely felt it. Everybody - including us - jumped out of their seats.
We also got caught out whilst having a chilled bottle of wine watching the storms over the mountains late at night. The local aborigines call the mountain range the cloud-gatherers and it was obvious why. It was constantly electric around there. We sat on the beach several nights to do the same thing and practically had the whole beach to ourselves. That is of course except for the hippies who hang around the car park playing bongos and wierd stringed instuments whilst smoking all kinds of stuff. Other hobbies of their's seem to include polaying with fire, dancing like rabid monkeys and avoiding soap and deodorant. Interesting bunch.
We will both miss Byron. It was like Totnes landed on top of Newquay. Except there was sun. Time to move on though. Next stop: Coffs Harbour.