25th November - 13t December

Trip Start Oct 24, 2005
Trip End Oct 20, 2006

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Saturday, November 26, 2005

And so we arrived at Nimbin. This is a town about 30mins from Byron Bay. As soon as we drove in Spencers face dropped! Everything was painted in psycadelic colours- it really was the Hippy Capital of the world. The people there nearly all had dreadlocks and smelt a bit whiffy- but they were all very nice. They were more than happy to offer us a drink- or anything else we could think of, a smoke or even mushrooms! As you can imagine we didn't stay too long.
We then drove on to Mulloumba which is famous for the biggest bank robbery in Australia (the bank is next door to a Police station!)
We decided not to stay there and drove to the nearby Mount Warning. The plan was to camp there the night and then do the 9km walk to the top the next day to enjoy views of the neighbouring countryside. Well we managed the quite eerie camp but decided against the walk - too much beer the night before.
Next we drove to Tweed Heads which is on the Queensland/ New South Wales border. We really liked it here as it wasn't very developed but close enough to the Gold Coasts glitz.
We camped in Tweed Heads the night, on a really pretty part of the esturary. It was lovely.
We then drove South through all the little seaside towns- Pottsville and Kingscliff. Spencer loved them, especially when we found a little beach and he had his first swim in the sea on a completley deserted beach.
We arrived in Byron Bay and decided to stay a few days as Spencer booked in to do his Open Water Diving Course while we were there. I also decided to do something exciting.
So next day I did the highest tandem skydive in Australia.
I was pooing myself as I was going up in the plane. I was just about to dive 14,000 feet from a plane, freefall for 10,000 feet in 70 seconds @ 200 km/hr and then hope the parachute would open and take me safely to the ground. Well it did open and it was brilliant- very scary but fun. Want to do it again.
While we were staying in Byron we were lucky enough to have Spencers mums friend Bronwyn let us stay in her beautiful home in Bangalow (10 mins from Byron)and we looked after her dog while she went away, a cute labradoodle called Holly
It was heaven to have hot showers and a comfy bed, but nothing could make either of us feel better when we went out and had a few too many and woke up with the hangovers from hell!
After all the hype we had heard about Byron, we were actually a bit dissapointed with it. The town centre was a bit scabby and while it had lovely beaches it didn't make up for the fact that there were smelly backpackers everywhere. So for this reason and the fact that Spencer couldn't finish his diving course here as the seas were too choppy we decided to move on (plus Sally saw a snake, nearly trod on it and scared herself to death!)
We drove through Lennox Heads and Balina on the way out of Byron. Both were nice places, especially Balina. We found a lovely pub with friendly people and we had a few bevvies with the locals. The icing on the cake was huge steak and all the trimmings for $7 (3 pounds!)
We had seen many signs for a place called Grafton so we decided that would be the next stop. So again we drove south, and when we got there what a dissapointment.
It was like stepping back in time, the shops were boarded up and the houses were falling down. We decided to keep on going and we arrived at Coffs Harbour.
This was a lovely place. It was quite a big city but it still had its seaside beach appeal. We both loved it- the one night we stayed we found a lookout to camp on that had views of the beaches both sides. We had a few drinks and went to sleep happy, only to be woken up at 2.30am by the sound of a car horn and flashing lights. A group of lads had decided it would be funny to wake us up. But then karma came into play and their car battery died. It was so funny as they were trying to push the car up a hill to get it going with Spencer and i laughing at them, they were really struggling and all we could do was laugh. Karma in action - Spencer was nearly wetting himself laughing!!!
Spencer had decided to finish his diving course in a place called South West Rocks so that was where we drove to next.
On the way we passed through two little villages, one called Iluka and the other Yamba.
While we were in Yamba Spence bumped into one of the lads he was catching fish with on Stradbroke Island. He had lived there all his life!! After a chat and a look around we drove to Nambucca Heads which had the nicest picnic area on the estuary so Spence went for a snorkel looking to see if it was worth getting his fishing rod out.
South West Rocks was quite a small place but it was lovely all the same. Spencer didn't have to start until Sunday so we had Saturday to celebrate my birthday which was lovely. We parked by the sea, had a few drinks, and what made the day was seeing dolphins swimming 10 feet away from me and also my first sights of wild kangaroos. The only things missing were freinds and family.

I can't say enough good things about my diving experience. Straight away i knew it was going to be good as my instructor had me in hysterics. South West Rocks is Australias #1 cave dive site. I saw probably 20-30 grey nurse sharks varying from 2-3 meters in length, eagle rays, Octopus, fire shrimp, Giant sea turtles and hundreds of fish i did not recognise. (Photos attached). Never had such a long adrenaline rush as being 2 feet away from these nurse sharks for 50 mins at a time and as a bonus i found 2 medium sized sharks teath. Can't wait to do it again which will probably be in Nelson Bay which is supposed to be another great diving site. Little bit of advice if you have never dived before - don't get boozed up the day before. I nearly chucked on the boat and had the worst headache of my life especially 20 odd metres down. (On sallys birthday we saw Dolphins swimming near the van and kangaroos hopping around us so i told Sally i'd arranged with Australia Zoo to release them on her birthday which she thought was really thoughtful of me, bloody right it was and expensive too. Yeah right) Back to Sally

And so with a newly qualified diver in my midst we drove on to where we are sitting now Port Macquarie. This is also a nice town, not too touristy and has a lovely walkway along the pier and jetty where we are just about to head off to do some fishing.
Wish us luck.........
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