Richard's Travels

Tales from the Southern hemisphere

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Byron Bay to Brisbane

Saturday 8th: Hervey Bay to Byron Bay

Well today I had booked onto a bus to Noosa, which had been my next destination on my plan. However, on the way to the bus station I had a look at my calendar and realised that I really didn't have much time left in Australia! Instead, I changed my bus from the 5 hour trip to Noosa to a 12 hour trip to Byron bay, which was going to be my next port of call! So nothing much interesting about today!

Upon getting to Byron bay, I found out that Nicky & Orla had got here from the South the day before, so checked into the Arts Factory Lodge, which is the most bizarre hostel I've stayed in yet! A very hippie style place, with a strange mix of different room styles, including teepees, and a bus! My dorm is perhaps the biggest I've stayed in so far, with bunk beds stacked 3 high! I have to remember not to jump out of the bed in the morning!

Sunday 9th: Kayakking with Dolphins

As I had missed out on swimming with Dolphins in New Zealand, I was determined that I wouldn't be leaving Australia without seeing them. The option available to me in Byron bay was to go kayakking with them, so in the morning I found somewhere to do this. Once I found the place, we put on lifejackets and helmets and carried the kayaks down to the beach. At this point I realised that we would have to paddle out through the fairly big surf being enjoyed by all of the surfers! Of course to start with we weren't used to this, and by the second wave our kayak had been flipped and we had to get back in. Eventually we managed to get past the breaking waves, and after waiting for the second guide (who had to return as one person bottled out!), we headed out a bit further. It wasn't very long before we got our first sighting, 3 dolphins who came right up the kayaks. We also saw them jumping through waves.

When it was time to head back in, our guides started telling us how to catch waves. There seemed to be a lot to do, and most of it was reliant on the person behind me being able to steer well (I wasn't hopeful as he hadn't been too great so far!). After almost catching a few small waves, a big one came along which we managed to just about catch, although not straight into the wave. Unforunately, the guy steering wasn't able to recover, and after a few seconds we were thrown out. We'd almost made it back to shore anyway by this point, so that marked the end of our trip.

After taking the kayaks back, I started to do the Cape Byron walk upto the lighthouse at Byron bay and beyond through a forest. However, after the first hill I decided to abandon this for a later date, and headed back. In the evening we had our first Sunday roast for a while, before a couple of drinks and an early night.

Monday 10th: Nimbin

Even when I got up this morning, I hadn't decided what to do with my day, go diving or try and spend a bit less! In the end I managed to convince myself to leave the diving for Fiji, and went on a day trip to Nimbin. For those who haven't heard of it, Nimbin is an old hippy town, whose sole extistance these days seems to be to sell marijuana to tourists! The bus trip was supposed to also include waterfalls and rainforest, but these were a bit of a disappointment as there wasn't much water in the waterfall, and we were at the top of it anyway. When we arrived in Nimbin, I managed to walk for a whole minute before being offered pot, cookies and other dubious substances! I found it amusing the range of people who were dealing - it ranged from people I would've expected to be dealers to old women!

Back in Byron bay, I decided to have a quiet night in, so watched a film (Syriana) at the arts factory cinema - an interesting cinema as most of the rows were made up of faux-fur sofas, and the front 5 rows being lie-down sofas! Perhaps that was part of the reason I nodded off briefly!

Tuesday 11th: Byron to Brisbane

I made a very early start today - getting up at 5am to get the hostel bus upto Byron Bay lighthouse in order to watch sunrise at the first place in Australia to see it. As I'd been waking up fairly early here anyway (annoying bush turkeys jumping on our roof!), this wasn't too hard. I wasn't sure how many people on the bus had just got up, and how many hadn't yet gone to bed though! I was hoping to see more Dolphins playing in the surf, but unfortunately this was not to be. I did the rest of the Cape Byron walk which I'd intending doing a couple of days, as I didn't have to bother with walking up big hills to start with!

Today was another of those fairly boring days spent mostly travelling. I arrived in Brisbane at lunchtime, and just spent the day exploring the city and popping into the museum & art gallery. In the evening I made use of the cheap tuesdays at the cinema by seeing another film - V for Vendetta.

Wednesday 12th: Random Meetings & Koalas

My plan for today had been to get up fairly early and get on a bus to visit a Koala sanctuary. However, I nipped out for breakfast first, and on my way back into the hostel I ran into Sues, who had randomly stayed in the same hostel as me last night! Sues had been on her elective placement in the Solomon Islands, and had just arrived in Brisbane to spend a week travelling down to Sydney. So instead, I spent the morning catching up with her before she left for Byron Bay with her friends.

Next, I hopped on a bus for the Lonely Pine Koala sanctuary. This did not just house Koalas (although it did have a lot!), but also many other australian animals, including Kangaroos, Dingos and many different birds. After getting the obligatory "cuddle a koala" photo and catching the birds of prey show (with some impressive Eagles and owls), I headed back to the city for my final night in Australia! :(


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