After walking through Kings Cross with my rucksack at 10pm, dodging the drunken crowds & the strip club bouncers, I made it to the Greyhound coach terminal in one piece. Some cruel b***** at the hostel told me Greyhound buses provided free wifi. That person lied. This meant thirteen hours with no internet connection, on a coach packed full of sweaty, smelly, restless travellers. I worked out it's like travelling from Bournemouth to the Highlands of Scotland, yet on the map of Australia it's barely even 2cm away. Crazy, right? Luckily I'm one of those people that could probably get a good nights kip on a bed of nails, so seven hours of the journey were spent snoring my head off. Christ it was a bumpy ride though. The driver had us all doing some sort of involuntary Gangnam Style dance every time he hit a bump.
After thirteen long hours I finally arrived in Byron Bay, and with an hour to kill before the transfer bus, I decided to have a look around. What struck me at first was just how chilled out everything was. The frantic pace of Sydney was replaced with that of a bohemian beach town. I checked out the beach and the shops, grabbed a coffee, and by then it was time for the bus.
I mentioned in the previous blog that I was going to meet up with some of my Melbourne friends here. It only turned out that Dave and Ailsa had booked into the same hostel and were in the room next to me! It was like it was meant to be. We headed straight down to the beach to chill out (after 13 hours of being shaken about like a snow globe I needed a lie down to be honest).
The hostel itself is awesome. It's a bit further out from town, but with a beach on its doorstep it has a very friendly, laid back vibe to it. It even has hammocks. How cool is that?! My roommates were really nice too. Iain and Naomi, a couple from Peterborough, quickly became friends with me and my Melbourne buddies. That night we drank in the hostel and grabbed an early night, as we'd all booked to go on the tour of Nimbin the following morning.
Nimbin is a small hippy village about 40 minutes drive from Byron Bay. It's famed for its laid back attitude to drugs and the alternative, and although drugs aren't really my scene, it was still a great day. Nimbin itself is just one long street, so the hour we had there was just about enough. After that, we were taken to a National Park where Jim cooked us a tasty BBQ, followed by a trip to the nearby waterfalls for a chance to take some photographs. The tour guide, Jim, saw himself as more of a DJ, using his microphone to announce each song in the style of an 80s Radio 1 DJ on cannabis, which made for a thoroughly entertaining ride. All in all I enjoyed my day at Nimbin, although I probably wouldn't want to go again.
The next day was designated as a 'beach day' by everyone in the hostel. Me Dave and Iain decided to go for a paddle, and after seeing that there was a little sand island about 100 metres out, we decided to swim to it. Iain made it with ease, followed by Dave, yet as fast as I was swimming I was getting no further. The current was too strong, and much to the amusement of Iain and Dave, I was swept away to the other end of the beach. My excuse was that I only made it to my 10m badge. Ah well, Ian Thorpe I am not.
That night we got drunk with all of the hostel. Luke, another one of my Melbourne friends, arrived in Byron Bay that night and joined the our hostel party. There were Canadians, Italians, Dutch, Germans, and probably loads more nationalities that I've forgot to mention. The hardcore out of the group headed to the UV party at Cheeky Monkeys (a club in town). Me and a few of the others stayed in and drank instead. My excuse was that I needed to save money for the kayaking with dolphins trip I was looking to book. Having seen the guys who went to Cheeky Monkeys the following morning, I'm glad I didn't go.
The following day, after saying goodbye to Iain and Naomi (who might I add are two of the funniest people I have ever met), and with Dave and Ailsa at surf lessons, me and Luke decided to head to Cape Byron to check out the lighthouse. The 45 minute trek up hill was particularly gruelling, but the views at the top were truly stunning. It's also where the most easterly point of Australian mainland is situated too.
In about 5 hours time I'll be kayaking with dolphins and turtles (I booked it!!), which I'm super excited about. A few friends from Sydney are heading up to Byron Bay tonight too which will be nice; I think I will make it to Cheeky Monkeys after all. Tomorrow I leave for Surfers Paradise, somewhere that I've heard mixed things about. I suppose travelling is all about who you meet though, and if I'm lucky enough to meet people similar to those I have met here in Byron Bay, I will be a happy man indeed.