Trip Start Mar 15, 2011
Trip End Jun 11, 2011

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Chez Reimer

Flag of Australia  , New South Wales,
Thursday, April 21, 2011

Considering our eating habits were sparse at best the previous day, we all decided to head up to Shelly Beach on Ballina's north side for a late breakkie!  Shelly's is the staple spot for the incoming tourist, as the tourguide can say with authority that the tourist will stand an excellent chance of seeing humpback whales, dolphins and water dragons, the latter being the much-loved local lizard, all while sipping their morning coffee on the beach.   Well, it may be said that the tourguide was down on her luck this time around! 

Firstly, it was alas a month too early to see humpbacks ride their motorway up the coast for their winter holiday.  Secondly, the council had trimmed back the coastal vegetation at the cafe and so the dragons, who live under the foliage but pop out to vacuum up crumbs, were further back in the bushes!  The 'old guy' - a thirtysomething and rather fat dragon who looks straight out of Jurassic Park popped his head out for a little while, but the feral children at the table next to us started chasing him and he quite rightly found something better to do.  And lastly, the dolphins were just being bloody lazy!

Once more, the tourist threatened to demand a refund from the guide, but luckily his attention was deflected through the artful means of muesli, angry seagulls and the myriad of sand crabs on the beach!  

Around lunchtime we set off for Tyagerah, about 40 mins up the coast, for Bluesfest, the 5-day festival held each Easter in the Byron region.  Nearly everyone we'd talked to in the last few days warned us in grave tones: "It will rain all weekend.  It always rains for Bluesfest!" and so we seemed to packed off at each turn with a nasty portent.  So we were delighted to prove all the locals wrong, rocking up there on a beautiful day bearing no hint that we'd need our matching rain jackets! (And seriously... what would that do to our cred at such a festival!)
Still, with all the rain in the preceeding weeks, the ground was fairly... moist.  The wily farmer providing the grounds for the event had done a lot to provide a 'dryer' atmosphere for the festival, laying down some gravel and walkways, but there was still a fair bit of squelching underfoot and you could tell it would get a bit interesting as the weekend wore on.  We were feeling pretty lucky about attending the first day!

And so a terrific evening ensued.  We hopped between the tents catching an array of young and old acts amongst a terrifically varied audience, consisting of the hardened 30-year attendees (who all had great folding chairs, not making Erin jealous at all!) through to the spring chickens like ourselves, all in a very chilled out atmosphere.  Being a blues festival, there was also a lot of quality facial hair to be spotted.

While the much bigger acts were due to follow later in the weekend (BB King, Bob Dylan, Cat Empire etc...) we caught some fabulous stuff, the highlight being the two man outfit we saw busking in the park the day before!  We also managed to shirk ZZ Top for one seriously delicious lamb souvlaki... and may have dipped into one or two other food stalls along the way!
We decided to make a move around 11pm with most of the music wrapped up, and were pretty excited about our decision to drive to the festival since the queues were already forming for the bus and it wasn't expected for another hour.  But it has to be said that the excellent evening was capped off in the best way possible: with a handout of free Brazillian barbequed chicken!  Happy days indeed.

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