- Surfers Paradise – Byron Bay
- Skydive Byron Bay
And so began our short journey from Surfers to Byron. It lasted two hours and the bus arrived before midday had even hit. Once again, I bumped in to Lily on the bus but she was to stay in Byron longer than me this time and alas, it would be our last meeting.
When we arrived at the bus stop, the lady from our hostel organising the shuttle bus service seemed to just get up and go without us (you’ll soon read that this happened twice). Em and I were told the bus would return but when it did not, we had to do the 15 minute, middle of the day, walk with our rucksacks on. Needless to say, we were a little soggy upon our arrival at ‘Backpackers Inn on the Beach’, given it was 35 degrees outside.
We had to wait an hour before our room was ready so just hung around the lounge. Once ready, we chucked our clothes off and bikinis on as quick as we possibly could and head for the beach! The surf was pretty high so our paddle in the sea was no deeper than my knees but cooled us off nonetheless. We spent the next few hours in the sun, sleeping, reading, swimming, watching the surfers and catching up on life. Right on queue at 4.30pm, as we’ve found occurs here, the clouds rolled in marking it was probably time to head in (and a good thing considering Em’s lobster state from using factor 15. Factor 50 all the way ladies and gentlemen- see Dad).
Sun burn and clouds considered, we went for a little wonder in to town whilst the shops and cafes were still open. Byron itself is quite small and super, super hippy, hence the name of this post as it was edgy like Stoke’s Croft and the locals of Bristol. There’s vegan cafes and street art all over the place, people walk around without shoes on and each street corner has someone different playing a different genre of music. It’s so great!
The walk took us past a travel agents and we got chatting to one of the staff after I had returned a perfectly accurate football kick to him. It turned out that one of his colleague was also from “south of London” as how I like to introduce where I’m from, and his version of “south of London” was East Grinstead. Not only this but his sister was Aeofe who I worked down The Plough with. What a small world, eh?!
Upon their recommendation (and our request for something healthy), Em and I wondered a few blocks to ‘Orgasmic’, a middle-eastern style food cafe selling delicious falafel, chicken and lamb pita pockets. We followed this up with gelato (perhaps not so healthy) where I chose banana split with Nutella and sticky date (the sticky toffee lady in me will never leave) flavours, whilst Em dropped it all over her like a baby. The child-like eating reversed from the Brisbane chocolate shop!
Following our heavy nights in Surfers and the promise of some big Christmas boozing, we had agreed to keep it chilled in Byron. As such, we showered and went for a night wonder, hoping for new weird and wonderful Byron experiences. Byron certainly did not disappoint!
Other than a great buzz about the streets, there was a fantastic one-man band busker. He wasn’t cheesy in any way, but just awesome (FYI, called Romisounds). At one point, he pulled a “friend” from the crowd who was the 8th best beat boxer in the world and played the beat to a few songs before freestyling and wowing us all himself. After watching these two perform for a good hour, we decided we weren’t going to top the night and went back to the hostel and our boiling hot room for bed.
I had a very early wake up call the second morning for my (hopefully, third-time lucky) skydive. And this time the bus pulled up and the weather, although cloudy, held out to keep the jump running. We drove out to the dropzone a few miles from the town centre and checked in. The sky clouded over so that the take-offs were put on hold for an hour or so, at which point I made friends with 3 crazy, party-hard lads who had not yet slept and were bricking it for their jumps!
Eventually it was my turn to get kitted up and briefed for the dive. I was strangely calm and super excited, whilst others in my group were definitely trembling with nerves. I found the plane scariest given I’m not a confident flyer at the best of times, but soon found it my turn to jump after watching three others literally fall from a plane ahead of me!
Not that you get a chance to hesitate with someone strapped to your back, but I didn’t hesitate as I shuffled my way to the door and before I knew it I was hurtling to the ground at 200km/hr! The initial 5 seconds were stomach-churning and then I was loving every second, taking in the fact I was falling face-first at the clouds and then the floor, whilst my earring felt like they were ripping through my ears. My least favourite part was the parachute going up, both because it’s like part of a rollacoaster that you aren’t expecting, but also because my freefall was then over. But the scenery didn’t disappoint and I’m actually really glad I got to drop and fly through clouds.
When I landed, I was buzzing and wanted so badly to get up and do it again. I ran over to two other girls in my group who had been nervous and they were both pretty shaken up, one even throwing up, and neither as buzzing as I was. Although they cheered up when our videos were shown and were horribly cringe-worthy!
I head back to Em at the hostel to tell her all about what she’d missed out on and show her my video before we made our plans for the afternoon. We’d heard the Cape Byron lighthouse was worth the 5km round-trip and since it was cloudy and a tad cooler that day, popped on our trainers and head off. It’s funny how we find 25 degrees cooler now, because it certainly wasn’t when we were climbing endless steps 2km in!! This aside, the views from the top of the Cape, and Australia’s most easterly point, were fantastic. It was a shame the cloud obstructed our views beyond the bay itself but the hundreds of surfers and dolphins more than made up for it.
We sat watching the dolphins and surfers for almost an hour before walking back towards town, taking the path via Palm Beach where Chris Hemsworth has his pad, and then along the waterfront to cool off our sweltering feet. We rewarded our efforts with a crepe (mine filled with strawberries and melted chocolate) before heading back to shower and organise our things for the evening.
I had some leftover vegetables that I wanted to cook up for dinner and as I was doing so, the hostel staff popped on ‘Home Alone’ on the giant projector in the garden. I called Em down and we plonked ourselves on a giant beanbag for the next 2 hours getting in to the Christmas spirit (but again, didn’t feel too Christmassy given we were sat outside in tank tops and shorts at 10pm on December 22nd!).
The day had been a good one, topped off with a chilled out evening. The next morning also started well, heading for a haloumi and bacon roll brunch at ‘Byron Fresh’ before I got a bus to Sydney at 11.30am. However, after brunch I went out to catch the shuttle bus and watched it pull away 5 minutes early (as it had before). I asked reception to call it back for me so that I didn’t have to take the bus in the sweaty state that I had initially arrived at the hostel in.
The bus journey was running very slowly and behind schedule but we were soon on the way of the 14 hour route. That was until 8.30pm when we broke down. Fast forward 5 hours and at 1.30am FINALLY the mechanic showed up (that’s the problem with Australia being such a big country). My countdown to see Gina and Kit kept increasing and the world seemed to be against us. But eventually, at 6.30am, we did pull in to Sydney Central Station: tired, hungry and smelly.
So, 52 days in to ‘life from a bag’ and so far, so edgy and so SO excited to see the girls.