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.
From Port Macquarie we drove on to Crescent Head, Australia’s longboarding capital. At the time it was school holidays and the place was absolutely packed! We drove down to the beach front where there was a holiday park full of tents, caravans and holidaying families.
The beach was nice with small but clean waves coming in, and I would have been tempted to go in for a surf, if not for the amount of kids and adults fighting over the waves. I was fairly entertained watching one guy on his longboard, who would be happily cruising along a wave, only to get cut off by some surfer dropping in on him. Every time he’d throw his arms in the air with an exasperated look on his face.
The next day the crowds were back fighting over the waves so we decided to drive away from Crescent Head along Plomer Road in search of uncrowded beaches. We’d driven less than 10km when we came across a campsite with showers and access to a quiet beach with decent waves. This was more like it.
Failing to find the surf we were hoping for at Seal Rocks the mission continued as we drove up the coast. We went through Pacific Palms only to find the beaches were too advanced. Boomerang Beach looked awesome but I was happy to just watch as the surfers rode massive waves within centimetres of submerged rocks.
By the time we made it to Forster we’d pretty much given up on surfing. The beaches here were more the swimming type. So instead, we just enjoyed hanging out in the little town and even had a go at hand washing our clothes.
We seemed to get a lot of strange looks, hasn’t anyone ever seen 2 people doing their washing before?!
We also checked out the Cape Hawke Lookout. After climbing up 400 odd steps through regenerating rainforest we found ourselves at the bottom of an 8 metre tower. Up the tower you can get above the trees to see a 360 degree view of the surrounding area, worth every step. Continue reading →
Leaving Newcastle behind it wasn’t long until we came to Port Stephens. This isn’t a town, but an area, which is made up of a few nice costal villages. We arrived first at Anna Bay and stumbled upon a beach called Birubi Point.
Being a Sunday the place was overrun with tourists, and I could see why they were all here. The beach was long and beautiful running off far into the distance. But even more spectacular, were the Sahara style sand dunes that backed it. They were huge and seemed to go on forever.
After 4 days in Sydney Chris and I were looking forward to getting away from all the people and traffic by escaping to the Blue Mountains.
We drove for 2 hours along the Great Western Highway before arriving at Katoomba, the chief town in the Blue Mountain area. I suppose I should have realised that, being so close to Sydney, the Blue Mountains wouldn’t have that isolated, middle of nowhere feel to it. But still, I was a bit surprised by the amount of work and money that must have gone into this huge motorway. As we turned off, it was hard to imagine we were right next to a national park.