We left Brisbane with a full day ahead of us and a plan to reach Byron Bay by lunchtime, including a stop in the town of Surfers Paradise. However we as soon as we reached Surfers Paradise we left as we realised it was basically the Benidorm of Australia - high rise buildings all the way to the beach and the place was full of tacky souvenir shops! After leaving Surfers though, Dan realised he had left his passport in Brisbane and we had to turn back, making what was going to be a relatively short drive by Australian standards, a full day of driving! We arrived in Byron late afternoon all a bit irratable but glad to be there and caught a glimpse of the beach as the sun was going down. We spent the evening cooking up some dinner on the beach before heading to one of the bars in town where we managed to blag some more free food! Never wanting to miss an opportunity for free stuff we ate until we couldn't eat anymore and went home feeling sick! We camped by the side of a road in the town centre and were awoken by a ranger shining a torch into our van at 6am and told us to move on or be fined. Never the best start to the day and didn't put us in the best of moods.
Everyone we had met on our travels down the coast had told us that we couldn't miss out Byron as it was one of the best places in the world! We had heard that it was a really nice chilled out town with a great atmosphere and a good place to surf. Which it was but we had such high expectations of the place that it wasn't as great as we thought when we were finally there! We spent the first morning wandering the town and checking out the cool bohemian shops that were around before setting off on a walk to the lighthouse at the most eastern part of Australia. The walk took us along a couple of nice bays where Dan and I were inspired by some surfers we saw until we finally reached the lighthouse and were awarded with great views across the bay. We managed to spot a dolphin or two from the top before heading back into town where we sat on the beach for a while braving the cold weather. We spent another evening at the same bar and managed to win a free trip to the nearby town of Nimbin, as well as using our free drinks vouchers we had somehow procured.
Despite the crap weather the next day, Dan and I donned our wetsuits, hired a surf board and headed out to one of the smaller, quieter bays to try our best at some surfing. The waves were what I would call large and we saw plenty of surfers out there so decided it would be a good spot to learn. Not really knowing what we were doing we dashed into the water and paddled out before trying to catch a wave and stand up. It was a hell of a lot harder than I would have thought it to be, and it was so tiring with the continuous paddling out against the waves but after 4 hours, although we were knackered we were just about standing up. I gave myself more credit for the fact that the waves weren't straight and didn't roll for very long so the conditions were difficult for beginners. Plus it was raining. So we did pretty well for a first time try! The afternoon was spent at a friend of Robs who cooked us up a great BBQ and offered us beers which we eagerly accepted. He lived in a warehouse out of town that was really cool with tons of space and all open plan. We ended up heading back to the same backpacker bar one more time for some more free drinks but we were pretty sick of the same cheesy music that we had to leave early!
As I said before, Dan Rob and I won a free trip to Nimbin and we headed there on our last day with a couple of girls from London we had met. Nimbin is basically a small town full of hippies that have lingered there for the last 30 years and is particularly welcoming to stoners. We turned up and wandered the town in the pouring rain that basically consisted of a single street with a few wierd and wonderful shops. We spent a while chatting the guy in the happy high herbs shops which was interesting before being lured into the Nimbin museum that was billowing smoke from the doors. We all came out feeling a little light headed despite turning down the numerous offers of weed! Practicly everyone in the town was on some kind of drug! The afternoon was spent cooking up sausages under shelter from the crap weather before returning to Byron late afternoon. We left that evening for our next stop that was Coffs Harbour.
Byron was a great little town to chill out and to try some surfing, but our expectations were way to high which kind of spoilt it for us. The surfing itself was great fun though and I can't wait to try it again, maybe next time with some proper tuition rather than Dans helpful but rather incoherent advice. As for Nimbin, well there's nothing much to say except that it's full of stoners and a lot of drug dealers! But it was interesting nonetheless! Pictures to come.