The East Coast
Trip Start May 28, 2010
32Trip End Ongoing
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The car had been shaking pretty bad on the highway, so that night at the rest stop Curtis took a look at the tires. We were so lucky he did: one was worn right down to the wire along one edge, ready to come apart! He swapped it for the spare and we were safe again until we bought a replacement. What would I do without him
In Nambucca Heads the next morning, we were bound and determined to surf. We got a map from the information center, harassed a pelican outside, then headed for the beach. We tried two, one treacherous, one wussy, before we gave up and, wetsuits still half on, hopped in the car and drove to Coffs Harbour!
There, we tried Park Beach, which had smooth stones and enormous, man-eating waves. I had a blast on the boogie board, battling the waves trying to get out, jumping over them, getting smashed by them. Curtis tried and tried to paddle out on the surf board, but the surf was just too big. Off we went again!
Finally, after a long day of searching, we found the perfect waves on Digger's Beach. Well, good enough anyways. Curtis did well, but this was our fourth beach, so I was too tired to do much of anything! On our way out of town, we stopped to see the famous Coffs Harbour Big Banana, which is to blame for starting the trend for "Big Things" in Australia way back in 1964.
Next day we passed through Maclean, the "Scottish Town in Australia", where 200 power poles are painted with the tartans of various clans. It was wonderful! We looked for the "Peebles" tartan, but no luck... Then we carried on to Lennox Head, where we watched the hang gliders and para-sailers. Curtis surfed while I napped on the beach, then, surf-and-sunned out, we headed for Byron Bay
Everyone told us how great Byron Bay was, and for that reason we expected not to like it much! However, in this case, we ended up agreeing with the majority. While we were there it was Schoolies Week, which is not a week at all but a month when all the high school grads go on holidays and drink themselves into the hospital and each-other's pants! When we drove into town the streets were packed with "schoolies" moving about in herds. It sounds annoying, but the busyness was actually refreshing: we'd had a lot of slow days, and needed a change.
Our first full day there was blazing hot, the first we'd had since Western Australia. In the morning, we visited the Cape Byron Lighthouse, and walked down onto Cape Byron, Australia's most Easterly point. Then we headed to Clark's Beach: Curtis surfed without his wetsuit for the first time and I lay on the beach, all day long. It was delicious. Back in town, we bought a two liter tub of ice cream, found a picnic table, and ate the whole thing. Also delicious:)
To finish our awesome Byron day, we went to the Cheeky Monkey Bar, where we waited in line with a hundred 18 year olds to get in, get our (outrageously expensive) $7 pub meal and drink, and fight for a booth. We ended up booth-crashing on these guys on a road trip from university in Brisbane, and talking with them all night, shouting above the music and the crazy bar games. One was a high-speed scavenger hunt where people had to race back with things like someone else's bra, or a guy's underwear
The next morning we woke up tired, disgusting, and dehydrated in the rest stop: and the car wouldn't start. We got someone to give us a jump... and he noticed that the problem was that the car was in neutral! Whoops, my bad... the one time I drive!
We put aside our tiredness, guzzled some water, and went surfing. The conditions were perfect! Overcast but warm, and the tide was out, meaning it was easy to wade out to where the waves were crashing. The waves were great, and Curtis generously let me commandeer the surfboard for most of the time; pretty soon, I was standing for the first time, the second time, the third... Whooo! At one point the board and I went our separate ways, only to be reunited when the fin smoked me in the thigh, but even the severe charlie horse and insta-bruise couldn't curb my enthusiasm!
Exhausted from surfing, we snuggled up in the theatre that evening to watch Harry Potter, then headed out of Byron. We stayed at Sleepy Hollow Rest Area (spooky) where we met this awesome older English guy who was traveling around Australia watching cricket. He was just starting out, so we answered all his questions about free camping and spiders and the deafening humming coming from the trees (cicadas)
Next morning we arrived on the ritzy, glitzy Gold Coast. The Lonely Planet figures that if Surfers Paradise were a person, it would be Paris Hilton: "flashy, trashy, and always up for a party"! It was definitely the most commercial beach-side city we'd been in. It was a gloomy, humid day and the surf sucked, so we walked the main street and browsed the malls, then headed for the library.
And then it started raining. Little did we know, it wasn't going to stop for about six days! Even so, it was inconvenient: there were no free camps nearby and we had no idea where we were going to stay the night. In the end, we decided to drive all the way to the far side of Brisbane, to stay in the parking lot of a gas station. Glamorous life we lead, hey?
We drove and it poured rain and got very dark, and the lights streamed across the sopping wet roads. When we arrived in Brisbane, we nervously snaked our way along the freeways, trying to avoid getting lost, or funneled onto a toll road! We were amazed by the beauty of the city: high-rises glittered through the rain, and gleaming bridges soared over the slick, winding river. We made it through unscathed, found our parking lot, and set up the car in the downpour: home sweet home.