We left Brisbane and went back to the Gold Coast once again, but this time, to go to Wet ‘n’ Wild.
Wet ‘n’ Wild
Part of me didn’t want to spent $64 on a ticket for a water park, but we’d been doing so well living on a budget I suppose you have to let loose sometimes. We arrived at opening time and already the car park was packed and there was a crazy queue. So first bit of advice for anyone going to Wet ‘n’ Wild is to arrive early (although this is kind of obvious…)
After what felt like a lifetime we got in and stuck our stuff in a locker. Second bit of advice for Wet ‘n’ Wild… wear your flip flops. Again, this is kind of obvious, but Chris and I decided to go bare foot not realising how hot the ground would get. We spent the day running from shade to shade prancing around like idiots. After a couple of hours I had blisters starting on my feet from the friction.
The water park itself was good but the queues were pretty bad, I’d hate to see it on the weekend! You spend all that time queuing for a slide only for it all to be over in a matter of seconds. In the 5 hours we spent there we just about managed to try every slide. Which is a bit ridiculous.
After Wet ‘n’ Wild we headed to Tamborine Mountain, a small 525 metre plateau about 1 hour away from the Gold Coast. There was a nice small town here and the whole area was very peaceful and pretty.
We spent a couple of days driving around the plateau and doing different rainforest walks.
After all the peace and quiet it was time to do something a bit more exciting again, and spend more money. So we drove back towards Brisbane to Cable Ski Logan. I love snowboarding and have always wondered what wakeboarding is like. So when I read up about this place and saw you could just turn up and give it a go I really wanted to work it into our trip! Continue reading →
Chris and I arrived in Brisbane and drove through the city to Fortitude Valley. This is where a lot of the bars and clubs are in Brisbane. We were heading for a Sunday session at the bar, Alfred & Constance, where Seth Troxler would be playing.
Seth Troxler is a big House DJ who was doing his Australian tour at the time. I’d seen him once before a few years ago at a festival back home, but seeing a DJ like this in an intimate bar setting would be a completely different experience. And even better, it was free entry. It all felt too good to be true!
We went to the bar late afternoon and it was a pretty cool place. An outdoor terrace with a DJ booth set up, retro decoration, fairy lights, comfy leather couches you sunk right into. The only downside was the food and drink prices, maybe not too backpacker friendly.
Our flight got into Brisbane pretty late so we spent the night freedom camping on a residential street near the airport and then got up early the next day and drove straight to Tweed Heads, which is more or less the start of the Gold Coast. This is where the first lifeguard hut is (I think there’s 39 up the coast)!
My first impressions of Tweed were good. The high rises hadn’t quite started yet, it wasn’t busy at all, and there were great views of the Gold Coast skyline across the water. It was also pretty random how the boarder between NSW and Queensland runs straight through Tweed. I didn’t know which time to go by!
Once there, Chris and I went straight to Snapper Rocks, which is apparently an epic point break for surfing. Although not on this day it wasn’t…. With the waves looking tiny and mushy we gave surfing a pass and instead, went for nice walk around the point, taking in the views.
We said goodbye to our HelpX family and drove to Brisbane airport to catch a flight to Adelaide. We were going to see Nick, our Aussie friend, to celebrate his 30th birthday with him.
We’d just left Little Pocket and got on the motorway when we felt a bump every second or so on the right side of our van. ‘Is that the road?’ Chris asked. No, the road was pretty new and smooth looking. We pulled over on the busy motorway to see a massive bulge on the side of our right rear tyre.
I felt pretty confident though! Thankfully the guy who sold our van included all the tools needed to change a tyre. Plus our spare tyre was a full sized one. So we got to work, putting the wrench under the van and hoisting it up (even though you’re meant to loosen the tyre nuts first) and then tried to get the nuts off.
But they wouldn’t budge… I started googling tips and realised the van shouldn’t be lifted up at this stage, so we tried to get it lowered again, even that took a while to work out. Finally we got it lowered and tried again to turn the nuts with the cross bar spanner we had. We tried everything! Chris was putting all his body weight into turning the spanner until he was red in the face, when that didn’t work, I jumped up and down on the end of the spanner while Chris held it in place, but the nuts wouldn’t budge. And yes, we were definitely turning them the right way!
Feels like a lifetime ago I was working on a dairy milking cows. This is a video Chris and I made showing a day at work. It starts with Chris driving around mixing up the cows food and feeding it out to them, then it’s me milking the cows and feeding the calves! As far as backpacker farm jobs it was definitely a different experience.
About a year ago I signed up to HelpX, an organisation similar to Wwoof, where you can stay with hosts, do a few hours work each day, in exchange for food and accommodation.
With working, travelling and surfing, I hadn’t gotten around to arranging any HelpX. But a few weeks before I went to Byron Bay, a host called Bec contacted me, asking if Chris and I would like to come and stay with her family for a couple of weeks.
She lived about 40mins north of Byron, in a little village called The Pocket, with her partner Trent and 3 kids; 4 yr-old Tiger, 2 yr-old Townes, and baby Roux. With Roux only being 7 weeks old, and Trent working nights as a surveyor, Bec had her hands full and just needed some help with the kids and housework.
So after Byron, Chris and I drove north into the countryside to meet the family. We arrived to find a cute 3 bedroom house surrounded by fields full of horses and cows, and a backdrop of rolling green hills.
There was a 1950s school bus waiting to be renovated, chooks, and a vegetable garden.
Bec came out to greet us and then brought us into the house to meet Tiger and Townes. Trent and his band were playing at a music festival but would be back soon. It’s been a while since I’ve been around kids! But it wasn’t long until they had me and Chris outside playing with them on the trampoline in their garden. So much fun but totally exhausting! Continue reading →
Byron Bay. It’s a backpackers haven. A place where people plan to stay a week but somehow end up staying for months. They arrive clean cut and wearing shoes but somewhere along the way find they’re barefoot and have grown dreads.
When there’s so much hype about a place it instantly makes me feel sceptical about it, and so when Chris and I left chilled out Lennox Heads and drove up the road to Byron I wasn’t sure if I’d like it at all.
But it’s hard not to like the place! On one of the roads into the town is a sign saying ‘cheer up, slow down, chill out’, and that says it all.
The bustling little beach side town is busy and full of people, all ages and from all walks of life, just coming together to enjoy that feeling of freedom that Byron seems to give. Walking through the streets there’s organic foods, hippy stores, smells of incense in the air, street art. There’s such a high energy about the place and a good vibe, it’s impossible not to enjoy yourself.
As the sun starts to set buskers take to the streets. A drumming circle by the main beach car park, fire dancers in the park, and guitarists on street corners playing as crowds gather to sing and dance along. With a few drinks in you just walking the streets is an experience in itself. Continue reading →
We spent about 4 days at Lennox Head just surfing, chilling out, and using the library. There wasn’t much excitement, except for one night when we almost ran over a carpet python! But they’re harmless so we let him be.
But it was now approaching the weekend and we actually had some plans! We were going inland to a town called Lismore to catch up with our friend Micko, a guy we’d worked with last year during the New Zealand ski season in Wanaka.
Micko, Me and Chris at a staff party
It had been over a year since we’d last seen Micko! But after arriving at his house and opening a few beers it was like no time had passed at all. We spent the night drinking beers and catching up.
The next morning Micko cooked up a fried breakfast and then he said, “so, what do you guys wanna do tonight?” It was a Saturday, and I hadn’t really thought much about what we’d get up to with Micko, but I figured he’d maybe have something in mind. A few drinks at the local pub maybe. But no, Micko had nothing planned :p
It felt like we just sat in silence for a few minutes, no one putting up any ideas, when Micko said unsurely, “We could always have a night out in the Gold Coast?…” Yes! It was a great idea! It had been ages since Chris and I had been on a night out or even got drunk! And the spontaneous plans are always the best.
I could have happily stayed in Yamba and surfed at Pippi’s beach every day for the next month, but no matter how good a place is I always get that nagging feeling that there might be somewhere better up ahead. It’s not a bad thing, otherwise I’d probably never get anywhere!
We left Yamba and went to the next town, Iluka, which is just over the river but takes a while to drive to as there’s no bridge. This was a strange little place with quite an eerie feeling to it. There didn’t seem to be any tourists about and the locals were all the fishing types who enjoyed to drive their 4WDs on the beach.
We spent the night in an empty beach car park and while we cooked dinner there was a crazy thunder storm. We fried up burgers as lightening flashed above us but luckily by the time the rain came pouring down our burgers were cooked.
In the morning we were awoken by a lovely local who thought it was funny to drive up close to us and beep his horn! I’ve heard that sometimes locals in certain areas aren’t too keen on sharing their beaches with tourists.
Taking the hint we got up and I thought I’d give barefoot running on the beach a go. I ran about 3 miles and it felt great! Until I got back to the car and realised my big toes had massive blood blisters on them! I think it will be a while before I try it again.
The next stop was Evans Head, which was a nice enough wee town with a good surf beach. When we first arrived it was pretty hot and I just wanted to find somewhere to chill out for the day. So we drove a bit out of Evans Head to the Bundjalung Naitonal Park where we found Chinaman’s Beach and a half naked girl walking around her campervan with her boobs out.
She looked really young to be a naturist so I thought good on her! But as the day went on she appeared to keep her boobs hidden in a bikini, so maybe we just caught her at a bad time in-between outfits…
For the past few months we’ve been crawling at snails pace up the coast, stopping to surf at any beach with a hint of a ride able wave. It is kind of getting to that point now that there’s just beach after beach, I’m starting to lose track of where I’ve been and when, sometimes it all just seems the same!
Don’t get me wrong I’m not complaining! I’ve come across some of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen! But I suppose the East Coast just lacks a bit of variation, when you’re moving up it so slowly that is.
After Coffs Harbour we stopped off at every beach in our path looking for waves. Moonee, Emerald and Sandy Beach, all nice places but not much to do other than go to the beach.
When we reached Woolgoolga the town seemed to have a bit more to it. It has a large Sihk community, which meant lots of Indian restaurants and smiley, friendly, turban wearing people.
We slept right next to a holiday park in a day use area that said ‘no camping’. But there were a few other campers there who looked like they’d been around for a few days, so we took our chances.
That night just as the sun was going down we heard a lot of flapping and commotion above our heads. I looked up expecting to see a load of birds but instead, was surprised to see literally hundreds of fruit bats flying through the trees and hanging from the branches. They were massive!
Then after dinner we had an inquisitive kookaburra hanging around. We were able to sneak up close enough to get some good photos of it.