Vern: We were delighted to find that our accommodation in laid back Coolangatta was effectively a hotel. A for-surfers-by-surfers beach retreat with a wood panelled bar and pool area littered with beanbags and day-beds. The building had room types for all budgets: apartments, hotel suites and dorms. Naturally we were in an 8-bed dorm, but we had the whole room to ourselves. Result!
Over two days we walked several kilometres in either direction along the beach, baked in the sun, finished some novels and swam in the sea. The waves were swarming with surfers of various skill levels and paddle boarders so there was plenty athleticism to watch.
After these two lazy days, we decided that we could use two more. I went down to the front desk and requested two more nights in Room 32. A look of surprise and then disdain crossed the woman's face and lingered. "Room 32?"
"But that's the Girls Only Dorm [you perv!]"
"Right...well can we extend"
"You can, but I need to move you to another room [you creepy voyeur]"
"Um.. fine, we were the only ones in there though." I was certain this would redeem me though this really wasn't my fault.
"You were? Well that'll change for the weekend. There'll be lots of girls in there [wouldn't you enjoy that, scumbag!]"
And so she moved us to the room next door, to a 'mixed dorm' which we had all to ourselves for the next few nights, and every morning after that while I grazed on muesli and read the local news, the hotelier would give me the stink eye! We spent a couple more days there sunning and swimming and then were off to Byron Bay.
New South Wales is one hour ahead as they don't change the clocks for daylight savings so the bus schedule appeared to have the trip to Byron listed as a two and a half hour journey but it took about half that. It was a Saturday and Byron Bay was swarming with people. For the surfside hippie village that it's made out to be, there are a lot of high-end boutiques, big surf brands and over-priced restaurants. Between these there ARE stores polluting the sidewalk with incense smoke and white-rasta buskers, and there are no shortage of surfboards for hire. I thought it to be more like Plettenberg Bay, when I was expecting the Transkei.
On Main Beach I took a dive mask into the sea to get a look at a shipwreck poking out of the bay, it wasn't very interesting I'm afraid but I did see a blue bottle (a little blue jelly fish whose stings hurt like hell) and thus cancelled any frivolous swimming. Another day we borrowed bicycles from the hostel and rode up to the lighthouse on the Cape Byron heads.
Most of our last day was spent reading around the hostel pool as we were to take the night bus and had to check out of our rooms early. That night we treated ourselves to steak and beer for a bargain $7 and when a game of Pub Trivial Pursuit sprung up (where the first patron to shout out the correct answer wins beer), Andrea won us a whole pitcher of lager by listing the countries bigger than Australia (Russia, USA, Canada, China and Brazil). Most of which we rushed down before it was time to board the bus and the rest of which we gave to a table of hostel staff.
The bus ride was long and cramped and other than an argument with some young drunk conservatives (new rule: don't talk religion or politics on a night bus) it was uneventful. Waking with dry eyes and aching muscles, we shovelled down sporkfuls of a reduced-to-clear marble cake picked up the night before. Eventually the terrain turned urban and on a drizzly workday morning we crossed the Harbour Bridge and arrived in Sydney.