Tuesday, November 14
Most of the day was spent on the bus from Newcastle to Coffs Harbour, a mid-sized town roughly half way between Sydney and Brisbane. Our hostel is called the 'Barracuda Backpackers'. The first impressions are pretty good as they meet us at the bus station to take us back to the hostel. This is probably just good luck - they meet all the Greyhound buses on the off-chance that they might get some business. The hostel itself isn't all that great, however. The location is pretty average - a 10 minute walk to the beach but away from all the main attractions - and the kitchen is a big of a pig sty. The British girl who picked us up said that she works as the receptionist but that the phone and internet have been down for three weeks. Given that the location pretty much guarantees no walk-up busines, she seems to spend all her working hours on the couch watching TV. The other guests are all a bit lethargic too, about eight of them silently watch a dry and technical Discovery Channel documentary about skyscrapers in Shanghai while we cook our dinner.
The hostel had an overly-informative poster on the wall about the dangerous and poisonous spiders that can be found in Australia. Jane interpreted it to mean that thousands of the little critters were hiding in every corner and dark place just waiting to sink their evil fangs into her at any opportunity. As a result, any time we pass a tree, dark room, or basically anywhere that a spider web could possibly appear, Jane crouches into defensive kung-fu position and waves her hands around in front of her face. When we finally get to bed, Jane is so worried about turning out the light that she decides it is time to use the sleep sheet that her mum made, which covers every piece of exposed skin. (Some of the spiders' bites can actually pierce a child's fingernail but we pretend not to worry about that.)Wednesday, November 15
We greet the morning sun with a jog along the beach. By 7.45am the sun is already firing up for another hot one but we pretty much have the long, golden, holiday brochure-style beach to ourselves. After breakfast we head back down to the beach for some serious sunbathing and cavorting in the waves. Again, the enormous beach is virtually deserted, perhaps because it is so big and we are right towards the far end, or perhaps because it is mid-week, or perhaps because we are swimming in shark- and jellyfish-infested waters but don't realise it.
Whatever the reason, the only other people we see are the odd surfer dude or middle-aged couple walking past. It is a cloudless day, probably around 30 degrees, so it doesn't take long for us to get the old lobster impression going (sorry, mum!) We intersperse our bouts of burning with some bodysurfing and lolling around in the warm waters and feisty waves of the Pacific.
Despite my best efforts, I have had to give up on my Mo-vember efforts. The old moustache started to get really annoying, Jane wouldn't kiss me and I look like one of the village people. So, even though we are only half way through the month, I shaved it off. Goodbye Mo.