Wednesday 10th June
So I left Sydney in the dark, bright and early on monday morning. Had had a minor panic the evening before, when I realised that monday was bank holiday (the queens birthday) and that there would be no bus to get me to the other bus in time! But I booked a taxi and it turned out fine and I was characteristically half an hour early for the oz bus..better early than late and certainly better than 24hours early like I was for my flight here!
Chatted to a few people waiting to get on the bus, including a Dutch girl, Vera, who I only spoke to at the last minute then sat next to, and ended up talking the entire journey in between sleeping. It was great because we got on really well, I enjoyed the journey and was not bored one minute! We are in the same dorm now and have booked a couple of tours to do together later on up the east coast, so yay! It's such a relief to so quickly meet someone that I get on with, we have a lot in common, including vegetarianism, which is great for meals and stuff.
Drove for a total of over 8hours on monday, but with frequent stops for coffee and toilets, lunch in Kempsey, a fairly nondescript town consisting mainly of a wide, busy main raod lined with motels, petrol stations, fast food joints and a shop called "Kempsey firearms", reminded me of an american country town-type thing. The afternoon stop was at the "Big Banana" at Coffs Harbour, the first in a line of many 'big things' I will see up the coast. I LOVE this concept! It's kind of like Australia taking the piss out of themselves for being so big.. there are loads of models of random things, but really BIG. Great. Described by the aus bus driver as "a sight that will change your lives forever". He was funny. Bogan was his name, which is an aussie word for a kind of country hick/white trash.
After a quick stop at a drive-thru(!) liquor store in Woolgoolga, we arrived at surf camp at SpotX (Arrawarra) at 5pm. Quick tour and bed-choosing (basic) and it smelt of sewage, reminded me of Thailand. Gross. That aside, though, we were served an awesome meal with a salad buffet (YAY!!) and good veggie options then sat around a campfire and drunk and smoked and had fun. I loved this evening, it was such a great atmosphere, so many travelers there of different ages and nationalities and all just getting on and chatting and playing "never have I ever". I drank Aussie Cider produced in Southern Australia but only 4little bottles and didn't really get drunk.
Bed by 11, then woke up at 3.30am with such a splitting headache I could barely move, crawled out of bed and took 2panadol then lay there and 15mins later had to LEAP from my top bunk and RUN to the loo and be violently sick, it was so horrible! Especially for my roommates in this small room, with a bathroom door that didn't close properly and they got woken up by my illness, poor girls. The funny this is that I wasn't drunk so it wasn't from alcohol. Very strange. Then was freezing cold and uncomfortable. Woke at 6am, took another tablet for my head and was sick again! Supposed to havea surf lesson at 7am but I was in no state for it os sat out.
Bus left at 11am, lunch in Grafton (similarly stimulating to the lunch stop of our previous day) then we stopped at the Big Prawn in Ballina.. whoo! Arrived in Byron at 3pm, checked into Backpackers Holiday Village, so fun to have someone to ask to be in a dorm with :) 8person mixed dorm but nice and cosy and all really nice people, two sweet english boys who were so considerate, said stuff like "we'll be quuiet when we come in later, have put all our stuff ready on our beds so we don't have to rummage around"...aaahh! Went for a wander and a meander then had free pizza for dinner.. free food always tastes so good! Journalled and drunk tea then bed.
This morning up and talked for yonks with a travel rep about Fraser Island and Whitsunday options then booked one finally! Vera and I booked a self-drive 4WD tour of Fraser in a group of 8-10people and get a couple extra nights accom, then booked a 3day2night sailing tour of the Whitsundays on a Catamaran. Total $600 and they threw in our tour tomorrow to Nimbim for free! Am quite excited about all of these things.
Was thinking I might stop soon and work but now I am traveling up, I'm so excited about seeing and doing everything I think I will just travel then try to work in Cairns. May try to do a few weeks fruit picking around Noosa level, to get a bit of experience of that and money too.
Oh, this afternoon... I got my free surf lesson!! My bus driver managed to transfer it to MojoSurf Byron Bay for me.. whoo! After a bit of practise on the beach, we were into the sea in our shortie wetsuits and big, soft practise boards.. I kindof caught the first wave I tried, felt so good to stand up! Had many many failed attempts, the only other times I stook up was with an instructor behind me, steadying the board, then I stood and sailed in! The waves looked small from the beach, but my god, they looked HUGE from being right in front of them! I got smashed in the face by so many waves and swallowed litres of saltwater, but so exhausted of being buffered around by the end of it I was glad to get out! So glad I got to try it, but I am not a natural sutfer, but I think I definitely WOULD improve with time and practise.
This evening: will go out to eat (we want to try a vegan restaurant in the lonely planet book, called Vegasm) then to Cheeky Monkeys, mad backpacker bar. It's good here!