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.
It feels like forever ago that I was in New Zealand! This is just a mash up of different video clips I took while travelling around the North Island. It’s not the best video I ever made but at least I have something!
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.
I recently came across the following blog by Cody Miller and I thought it would be a good one to share. This guide gives loads of great advice and should answer pretty much every question a backpacker might have when looking to buy a campervan in Australia:
Finding the right car
Registration and insurance requirements
Kitting out your vehicle
Awesome and unexpected things to look out for on a roadtrip in Australia
Backpacking around the driest inhabited country on Earth is a rite of passage for many international travellers, and something Aussies know all too well requires a reliable and versatile beast of a vehicle to go the distance. For this reason, the second hand van has become the backpackers’ transport of choice.
This guide is designed to prepare travellers for Australia’s precarious open roads. It covers the importance of mechanical checks, the legalities of licensing, registration and insurance, and some essential supplies for an outback adventure. Continue reading →