Goodbye NSW..... Hello The Sunshine State.....

Trip Start Sep 28, 2009
Trip End Apr 22, 2011

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Where I stayed
Clarkes Beach Byron Bay
Tweed Billabong Holiday Park
Broadwater Holiday Park
Nobbys Beach Holiday Park

Flag of Australia  , Queensland,
Monday, October 18, 2010


Monday 18th October 2010


Distance                              42km
Accommodation                   $37
Weather                              Sunny - 21 degrees 

We finally left Ballina it was a lovely friendly town and we enjoyed our stay there, but we have to make tracks, at this rate we will have only got as far as Cairns by Christmas – which isn't that far up.  Our next stop is Bryon Bay, this was where we first met Mark & Diane and also one of our most treasured memories of Australia. Byron was named after Lord Byron’s Grandfather and was always known as a bit of a hippy/surfy town attracting all manner of people because of its fabulous beaches and great surf.  We pulled up to the same campsite we stayed at in 1996 just because we are sentimental old fools.  They took our booking but we were too early to check in so we went for a drive round the town to see how it had changed.  Our initial thoughts were, it had grown and therefore sadly lost that hippy laid back feel.   We also couldn’t get over the amount of backpackers there, not sure there was that many last time we were here. 

  We finally got our pitch and set up camp, first stop the BBQ, probably one of our strongest memories of Byron Bay was the Camp BBQ, which was a deck overlooking the beach.  They have covered it over now but it looks very much the same as it did.  Gary cooked pork sandwiches and we ate them looking over Clarkes beach.  The weather was fabulous, the wind was a little bit cool but if you found shelter from it then it was a scorcher of a day.  We grabbed a picnic blanket and our books and hit the beach for an hour in the sun, probably the first time we have sat and sunbathed on an Australian beach on this trip.

The sky was the deepest of blues, there wasn’t a cloud to be seen and I was eager to get some pictures of the lighthouse with a clear blue background as it was forecast to rain over the next couple of days, so we jumped on the bikes and headed east.  It was a very steep climb, as all lighthouses are, but this was the first one we had done by bike.  I couldn’t make it to the very top so we parked the bikes and walked up.  Again the views from the top are breathtaking and the Pacific Ocean never fails to provide a show for us, this time we saw both Dolphins and Whales....marvellous!

Byron Bay boasts to being the most easterly point in Australia and just past the lighthouse use to be a carved wooden sign post on a grass bank which Gary and I laid in front of for a photo.  This photo is on our wall at home (round the map of the world).  The wooden sign has gone, replaced by a plastic touristy looking one.  Pity we wanted to reproduce the shot.  The ride down should have been a pleasure, except my brakes failed halfway down leaving me hoping that nothing was going get in my way before I reached the bottom. 

We got back from our white knuckle ride to find that the pesky bush turkeys had trashed our bin and the remains were scattered all over our camp.  I set about tidying it up while Gary got to work on fixing my brakes.  It was a lovely warm evening, we cooked liver and mash for dinner before settling down to read our books.

  Tuesday 19th October 2010

We woke up to rhythmic sounds of a kango gun at 7.30am, oh joy, the toilet block opposite our site is getting a face lift and the builders start early.  With no sleep to be had we showered, change, did some chores and rearranging in the van.  After lunch we rode into town along the beach front bike track for a proper look round.  We are trying to keep off the booze during the week and keep it for the weekends so we can make the weekends special.....also help us lose some weight.  This was our first we popped in the Byron Bay Beach Hotel for a quick schooner.  Well it is famous, it was once part owned by Paul Hogan and had Crocodile Dundee memorabilia in there.  Ok so we will start the no drinking tomorrow.  Fajitas for dinner, delicious all that was missing was the Sangria.

Wednesday 20th October 2010

7.30am ...Woke up to builder’s kangoing again, I think they must be mining?  It was a dirty day, overcast and looked like it was going to pour down any minute.  Not much to do so we went for a walk on the beach and ended up walking back into town again.  We walked up to the supermarket to buy some groceries and started to make our way back to the campsite.  On the way we passed a sushi kiosk and bought two of the biggest pieces of sushi I have ever seen. As walked back to the beach we bumped into Mark’s nephew Jamie and his wife and Kids.  We knew they were in Byron and had planned to give them a call that night.  We had a long chat and a bit of a catch up and then went off in different directions, they were heading for the sushi bar having seen our massive snack and we carried on down to the beach.  On the way to the beach we also passed a bottle shop and decided that a bottle or two of cider would wash the sushi down lovely. It wasn’t until after we were sitting on the grass bank near the beach front, the sun had come out and the breeze was cool on our faces, we were happily supping on cider and munching on sushi, that we realised it was illegal to drink alcohol on the beach...... Whoops!!

We walked back along the beach, the weather had turned and it was really hot again, we got back to the campsite set out the chairs and chilled for the rest of the afternoon.  Dinner that night was a huge steak cooked on the BBQ with salad.  We were both so full afterward that we went for a walk along the beach just as the sun was setting.....very romantic!!!

Thursday 21st October 2010

Woke up to the mining builders, surely that can’t be that much concrete in a toilet block, they are definitely looking for gold!!  With the whole shower block out of commission the only showers available are four family rooms and with a packed campsite it is a gamble if one is free or not.  As we are opposite we can usually judge when they are available but Gary waited for nearly an hour this afternoon before he could get in one.

  We did the ride from hell today, the sat nav showed the next town of Bangalow as being 16km away, which is nothing on a bike, what she didn’t show was the size of the hills we had to ride up to get to the town.  In our fitter days, we would have loved this sort of challenge and hopefully we will work back up to that fitness again but at the moment we are probably about as out of shape as anyone can get and we really struggled to find anything fun about puffing and panting our way to the top, other than the views which were wonderful.  We got 10km there before turning round and came back down.  It was however a far more enjoyable journey back, whizzing down the hillside we had just painstakingly climbed, we hit 60km an hour on one of the hills.  We did feel like we had had a proper workout and after a considerable wait for the showers we cleaned up, changed, made dinner and then when for another stroll on the beach.

Friday 22nd October 2010

Distance                               68km
Accommodation                   $33.30
Weather                              Sunny - 21 degrees

It is time to leave Baron Bay and move up the coast to Tweed Heads right on the border of Queensland the next state up.  We followed the sat nav as always only she got lost, she tried to take us left on to a road that no longer existed due to a new bypass.  She then wanted us to do a u-turn and go back miles, so we ignored her, checked the maps and saw that although this way round was longer it would eventually lead us to Tweed Heads.  It was a great scenic route, we stopped for avocadoes by the road side, last time we will be able to do this as the season has now come to an end and they are not grown in Queensland (according to sources).    We drove through some wonderful little towns, the weirdest one had to be a town called Mooball, everything was painted like cows.  The buildings, the lampposts, the bus stops, everything......very special!!

When we arrived at Tweed Heads we had a drive round, we found a lookout point that had great view of the beaches and a Big Sea Eagle surveying it all. The lookout point also had a free BBQ.  We were both starving having skipped breakfast, so Gary went over and cooked up some bacon and we had bacon sandwiches on the go.   Next stop was a stock up at the supermarket a number of essential items needed before booking into the campsite.  We booked in for two nights and the very helpful lady put us right on the Billabong Lake which was lovely, lots of ducks and excitable seagulls.  We sat and had a couple of beers watching the water, this no drinking idea can start next week I think!!

Saturday 23rd October 2010

Woke up to jets coming into land over our heads, it appears we’re on the flight path for the Gold Coast airport, I do miss those builders!! We are riding into Tweed Heads today, travelling down beside the river, over the bridge and along the beach to the twin town of Coolangatta. The two towns are divided by the state line and a different time zone.  Many years ago there was a fence separating the two towns but now there is just a monument with a white line down the middle.  There is a lovely cycle track stretching the length of the beach and we stuck to this all the way, only stopping to watch a surf completion, they were using unusual surf boards, which I think maybe called Longboards  but if not I am sure someone will put me right.  It’s looked exhausting, they paddled out to a marker, then round the marker and up the coast to another marker for about a kilometre, kneeing on their board paddling with their arms all this time, then round another marker and back the same distance again before coming into shore. It made me tired just to watch them.   We cycled further along the track for about 10km before turning back, stopping for a chicken sandwich on the beach and then heading home.

Fajitas again for dinner – delicious

  Sunday 24th October 2010

If ever there was a day we should have stayed in bed and not come out, today was that day.  It all started off very normal, got up fed the birds and ducks our left over bread, packed the van up and drove over the border to Surfers Paradise.  We didn’t really notice too much was wrong, the traffic was a bit heavy but that is nothing unusually in big towns (well except for Canberra) we saw a number of people with tickets on string round their next but thought there must be a footy game on or something.  What we didn’t expect was half the roads to be barricaded and turned into a race track for a V8 Supercars race.  What it also meant was all the campsites within spitting distance of Surfers had doubled their prices for the weekend.  Not prepared to pay over the odds for an event we were not going to watch, we hit the books to look of an alternative site.  The other problem was we really wanted to go to Surfers Paradise so normally we would have just blown the town and moved on up so we had to look for an alternative that kept us in the area.

The alternative was a drive into the hills for a photo of a Big Pumpkin and campsite way out of town.  We drove for an hour, mainly up hill in bottom gear with a trail of cars behind us.  Arrived in Beaudesert only to find the campsite full and Big Pumpkin was not so big and a little shabby.....very unimpressed! We then drove back the way we came, stopping at a number of campsites along the way, six to be precise all of which had either closed down, closed for the weekend or were just full.  It was a very hot day, we couldn’t turn the AC on as we couldn’t get up the bigger hills and have ac on at the same power.  We were starting to get ratty with each other...this was not going well.  We finally headed back the way we came that morning, found a campsite 18km away from Tweed Heads, parked up and hit the beers.

Distance 152km (18km up coast)
Accommodation                   $32
Weather                              Sunny - 25 degrees

We made a shepherd pie, making sure we had enough leftovers for the next day. We had just finished washing and drying up when the sky lit up with a flash of lightning followed shortly with an earth shaking boom of thunder.  We cleared up and locked down for the night just as the first lot of rain drops fell.  It rained all night, waking us up intermittently depending on how hard it hammered down on the roof of the van. 

Monday 25th October 2010

Distance 11km
Accommodation                   $38
Weather                              Overcast - 24 degrees

We checked out of Nobby’s campsite but only drove as far as the beach for a look round, we are in a different time zone in Queensland and the time has gone back an hour, and as we forgot to change our clock we were far too early to check into the next campsite which was only 11km down the road.

We have checked in to a campsite in Southport which is 4km outside of Surfers Paradise, it’s a lovely campsite right on the river with Sea World over the waters.  Surfers Paradise is the place to go for all the big attractions, Sea World, Wet 'n’ Wild, Warner Bros. Movie World, Cabaret Shows, helicopter rides, name it and it’s here. 

We set up camp and then jumped on our bikes to ride into town.  There is a lovely cycle track that takes you right along the river and over the bridge into surfers where it then ran out because the roads and sidewalks were taken up by fencing because of the V8 races the previous days.  They had opened the roads up now but it still looked like a race track, the tarmac was scorched with tire marks and the advertising boards where still up over head.  So we got to ride down one of the tracks, it was great.  We eventually found the cycle track again and rode along the beach and into the main town.  It was pretty much as we remembered it, but they are relaying the tarmac outside the main entrance to the beach so I couldn’t get a good photo of the Surfer Paradise sign.  We parked the bike up and walked round for a couple of hours and stopped for an ice-cream.  We then saw that some nasty black clouds were rolling in off the sea, so we jumped on our bikes and rode like the wind home so we didn’t get wet.

It wasn’t the biggest of downpours but we got back in time.  I spent the rest of the afternoon writing up the blog while Gary read.  We had meant to go for a walk but I got engrossed in writing and it was dark before we knew it. 

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