Travelled up from Sydney via 'Surf Camp' where Lucy and I turned surfer pro over night. The 'learn to surf in an hour' (and in the dark, as it happened) was actually far less stressful than I expected! We had lots of fun amongst the waves and even managed to stand up! (How long we stood up for is unimportant...). The surfer dudes who run Surf Camp (It's gonna hit them hard if they ever have to get a real job) cooked us a massive barbecue for our efforts and then we had a party on the beach with all the Oz Experience crew. Got very cold walking back across the creek. Going in the dark to a beach which is only accessible through a creek is, I decided in retrospect, not a good idea.
Set off for Byron the next morning with 'Thunder', our driver, who was every bit as deranged as he sounds. He produced a very large whip on several occassions at Surf Camp and made alot of noise beating the air with it. I stood well back. He also had a bush hat permanently attached to his head and a theme song which he played very loudly on the bus. It was something to do with Thunder. He got extremely excited about a very large model prawn on the road to Byron and kept saying that 'it wouldn't be the last large thing we saw in Australia'. Apparently there is an oversized pineapple further up the coast.
Byron is a really funky little place; lots of hippy shops and organic cafes and some lovely beaches. Spent the first couple of days chilling out all day and partying all night at the infamous 'Cheeky Monkey's' (where you are guaranteed a classy night out). Watched the sunrise from Australia's most easterly point (making us the first people in the land to see it rise) which was fairly spectacular, despite being the end to my night rather than the start to my day. I think it made the colours more beautiful.
Was ecstatically happy to meet up with one Matt Lawton of Dorking fame on Friday forÃ¯Â¿Â½a crazy night out. He's been here so long he's practically Australian! I'm trying to beat the Aussie phrases out of him still. He's teaching me to bodyboard, which is so much fun. We all spent a few days kipping at Matt's Auntie's House in Byron and making the most of the surf at 'The Pass' and Wategos beach. We also headed inland to a tiny town called Nimbin on Sunday to catch the last day of the 'Mardi Grass' (yes, grass) festival, which was hilarious. Nimbin is renowned for its weed culture; and Mardi Grass is an annual festival held there campaigning for the legalisation of cannabis. The highlight of the parade, for me, was watching the twelve foot spliff go past; held high by stoned hippies clad in green. We also enjoyed the Hemp Olympics; during which you could try your hand at bong throwing or artistic joint rolling. There were lots of colourful roadside stalls and cafes selling interesting cakes.
Matt drove us up to Surfer's Paradise today, and we are staying with him in the school at which he works. Pretty strange to be back at school!
I'll let you know if I catch any good waves...