Saturday, 30 November 2013

Nimbin and Yamba

When we woke in Byron Bay we decided to head to Nimbin, before properly setting off down the coast. Nimbin is a small village west of Byron that is famous for its hippy culture and its pro-marihuana stance.

It doesn't take long to get there through the winding country roads and we were soon walking down the village's colourful high street.

Almost every shop is adorned with rainbows and flower power murals or quotes from the 1960s, giving it the feel that a side street in Amsterdam has been picked up and dropped in the middle of the palms and eucalyptus trees of the Australian bushland.

We decided to grab a quick coffee before setting off, so we walked to the back of the colourful Rainbow cafe and found a table at the back next to a couple of young backpackers enjoying some herbal cigarettes.

Marihuana is still illegal in Australia but it seems as though the residence of Nimbin are provided with a little leeway from the authorities, which only adds to the hippy vibe in the town. Supposedly back in the 70s a group of students set up a festival in Nimbin and ever since the town has continue to flourish with both locals and tourists moving to the town in search of a more relaxed lifestyle.

However, after an hour peering through the looking glass we decided to make our way down the coast, although not quite with a final destination for today in mind.

After a couple hours driving we found ourselves at the cute coastal town of Yamba. Built on edge of a huge estuary, Yamba reminded us a little bit of Noosa. Although the town was full of its own charm it perhaps lacked a little bit of the polish Noosa possessed.

However, with the sun still in the sky we looked at the map of Yamba and decided to head to a close by bay called Spooky beach. Although we didn't see Scooby Doo and the gang we did find a couple of teepee like structures carefully crafted out of driftwood build into the sand.

After finding out that they couldn't take my weight we opted to walk along to the headlands and some rock pools where we could go for a quick swim. When we got there we found a group of local lads jumping from a small cliff face into the beautiful blue water below. 

After watching for a while we started to get egged on to give it a go by the local boys. Obviously not wanting to look like a wimp in front of Jess I climbed to the top of the ledge and gave it a go myself. The drop took no time at all and I was soon plunged into the refreshing water. My head was only under for a second but I surfaced to the sounds of cheers from the local lads.

As I proudly smiled to myself, Jess and I made our way back to the campsite where we could get ourselves something to eat. It has been a great start to our meandering drive down to Sydney so we can't wait to see what tomorrow has in store.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Beautiful Byron Bay

The wedding in Kingscliff went ahead without a flaw. The sun was out all day, and the entire event looked almost as beautiful as the bride. However at the brides request we aren't putting up any pictures of the day.

However, the following morning we said our goodbyes and left Kingscliff and headed southwards towards Surfers Paradise. With the Australian High School exam period over and all the 17-18 year olds out in force we weren't going to stop in Surfers but as Mike had never been we thought we better swing past this notorious party town. 

Fortunately it was nice and early when we go there with a few people running up and down the esplanade or sunning themselves on the beach however I'm sure as soon as the sun goes down it would definitely change.

After a little nose around we got back in the car and headed down past the Queensland / New South Wales border and on towards Byron Bay. The north New South Wales town of Byron Bay is a huge tourist spot thanks to its beautiful surf beaches, relaxed atmosphere and cool cafe culture.

It didn't take us long to arrive there and after setting up our tent just outside of the main stripe we decided to head down to the beach for a little walk. The beach curves around the entire bay which gave us a great view of the Cape Byron lighthouse. We will have to take a look at the lighthouse tomorrow as cape byron is also the most easterly part of mainland Australia, and therefore the most easterly part of our entire journey.

However, as we pondered the next days itinerary a big black cloud started to form over head, so we quick stepped our way back to the campsite and took refuge in our roof tent just in time before a Australian sized thunderstorm started to pour down on us.

The next morning was as if nothing had ever happened, the sun was shining and the sky was horizon to horizon blue skies. Thats Australia for you I guess. Supposedly Sydney has more annual rain than London, but for the most part it all comes down, hard, during the night.

So with a day of enjoying Byron ahead of us we had soon finished our breakfast porridge and walked down to the beach ready for our daily dose of vitamin D.  With the Schoolies all flooding onto the Main Beach there were only a few people dotted along the length of Tyagarah beach so it felt like we had the entire beach to ourselves.

However, with myself being ever restless I managed to persuade Jess to head into the town with me after a few hours so we could go take a look at the lighthouse on Cape Byron.

There is a scenic walk that takes you from the beach all the way up to the top of the cliffs to where the  crystal white Byron Lighthouse sits, but dehydrated from our time on the beach we opted to cheat and took the car instead.

The views from the top look out over both the northern and southern sides of Cape Byron and the beaches that line each coast. The contrasts blues in the Pacific Ocean are supposedly to do with the mixing of the warm waters from the north and cooler waters from the south. When mixed with the green Aussie bushland, and gold sandy beaches it makes for a spectacular sight indeed.

We couldn't go back without walking along the footpath to the most easterly point of the Australian mainland. Being here really made us think about our position on the globe now compared to where we were five months ago. Its been an incredible distance covered and we are pretty proud to have made it this far. Now its all about driving down NSW until we get to Sydney.

However, we couldn't leave Byron Bay without first trying a couple of local delicacies, namely a pale ale from the Byron Brewery and a Byron Bay meat pie. The humble meat pie is as Australian as Crocodile Dundee and Byron Bay has a reputation for making some of the best. So we each ordered one of these pastry delights, I covered mine the in the ceremonial tomato sauce and we chowed down.

On the way back to the camp site we stopped off at the legendary Arts Factory for a cheeky beer.  The Arts Factory is a hostel/brewery/bar/spa & cultural centre. Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeplin had also played the stage there many moons ago.

Obviously we had to try a local beer and opted for a Byron Bay larger.  

While enjoying our refreshing beer we became the local blood bank for the mozzies and made a quick exit.

After a while we left for our campsite as the next few days covering the NSW coastline and getting ourselves closer to Sydney are going to be some of the most exciting yet.