"Find your obsession, make it your profession, and never work a day in your life" - Cockatoo Paul
Sat 14 Apr 12 - Sun 22 Apr 12
We've spent a brilliant week at Byron Bay. The hostel we're staying in is very chilled out, with its own cafe, cinema, brewery and bar on-site! To be honest, I probably could have stayed here longer, but we've got limited time and we want to make sure we've got plenty of timee to do Fraser Island, the Whitsundays and diving in Cairns, so we've made the decision to move on.
We had a bit of a struggle finding the hostel when we arrived at around 9pm after a long bus journey. Mainly because the Rough Guide has it marked in entirely the wrong place on the map! A local guy saw us struggling and helped us carry our bags back to the main street where he found us a cab - obviously his good deed for the day but it was much appreciated!
The first night we'd booked into what the hostel calls 'Island Retreats', which are canvas lodges - proper beds and everything but really just a step up from camping. 'Glamping' if you like. Unfortunately, it wasn't quite as building-like as Justine had hoped, and there were just a few too many bugs hanging around for her to be comfortable. When we went to the desk the next morning they had a look at the availability and after a bit of discussion, they offered to upgrade us to a private room (a 'cube') for the same price! A $25 per night discount - what a result! Justine's bug phobia certainly paid off!
The whole of the town is pretty relaxed, friendly, and eco-conscious. There's always people playing music on the street and it's just a really nice atmosphere with a hippy, down-to-earth vibe. The weather has been good enough on a couple of days to head down to the beach, although we've also had some massive downpours while we've been here. Unfortunately, on one of the best days I had some nasty head-cold which wiped me out, so I missed the sun that day! It's a lovely beach here though:
We did a 90-minute yoga session one morning, which was good, although I think a hour would have been long enough! About 20 minutes of it was meditation at the end, with the instructor chanting at the front of the room. Added to that, it wasn't the most relaxing atmosphere - it was raining so we couldn't do it outside where they normally do it and had to do it in the room usually used for the pool tables. Right next to the internet hotspot and behind the cafe with blenders going almost constantly... Not high on the list for relaxing yoga areas!
We went to the cinema to see 'The Artist' - it's a small cinema with sofa-like bench seating, so we could really spread out. Great film too - if you haven't seen it, put it on your list of films to see!
The hostel also runs a 'Bushtucker Walk' with part-time resident, musician and local wild-man Cockatoo Paul. He walks around with his pet cockatoo, Mr Pickles, perched on his shoulder squawking intermittently (the cockatoo, not Paul). Cockatoo Paul is like a real-life Crocodile Dundee, but without the crocodiles! He led us around the hostel site, telling us about the native plants and the uses that they have. Really interesting and he was very entertaining throughout the walk.
There aren't a whole lot of activities to keep you busy in Byron (unless you want to spend a lot of money andskydiving etc) - it's more a place to just hang out and enjoy the atmosphere. But we were sold on a sea kayaking trip, after I convinced Justine that you didn't need to be an experienced kayaker to be able to do it! There were some huge waves that we went over, and we even saw a couple of dolphins. It was only a 3-hour trip, but was really enjoyable, and it didn't even rain on us too much!
We had a trvia night at the hostel (which we didn't win...) and have also been out in the town on a couple of nights to check-out the night-life. We randomly ran into a bunch of guys from Hampton Court - nice to meet someone who actually knows where we live! We also went over to the on-site bar (The Buddha Bar) one night for Cockatoo Paul's live music set. He's a brilliant one-man band with drums, guitar and a didgeridoo - and he really brings his humour into his songs.
One of the most active days we had was our walk to Byron Bay lighthouse and the most Easterly point of Australia. The walk to the lighthouse was a gorgeous coastal walk past some nice little beaches:
The walk back from the lighthouse (after a beautiful view of the beach) took us inland through rainforest-like bush, so I of course took lots of pictures of trees...
The sun came out again for our last day in Byron so we spent the afternoon making the most of it on the beach. Next stop, Surfers Paradise... and hopefully some more good weather!