The Big Banana and Other Stories - Coffs Harbour

Trip Start Nov 29, 2012
Trip End May 10, 2015

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Flag of Australia  , New South Wales,
Monday, April 8, 2013

Even though Mr You like the Party? recommended Coffs Harbour, it was a definite on the to-do list of places I wanted to visit on the East Coast anyways. Various people had mentioned it back home and I really wanted to go and visit, mainly to go and see The Big Banana! There are a few banana plantations in the area and for some reason, the people of Coffs Harbour have built a massive yellow concrete banana, like you do. And as the shameless tourist that I am, I wanted to go and see it!

Initially I only booked a couple of nights here in Coffs, that was until I arrived at the hostel. Again, it had come recommended and the amount of free stuff on offer was absolutely staggering. Free kayaking, surfing, paddle boards, bodyboards and organised activities every day! Although the actual facilities at the hostel were a bit shoddy, about three bathrooms between all the girls in the place and no free tea and coffee.This is often a dealbreaker for me and hostels, along with pet parrots (see Port Macquarie entry). But the freebies made up for it! The staff were all Scottish too and it was refreshing to hear some Edinbugger accents for the first time in a few months. There were a few people I'd met at Port Macquarie too and it was very easy to socialise.

On the first day there was an organised activity to go surfing. Somehow, in the five months that I have been here, I still hadn't had the chance to even try it. So now seemed a better chance than any. However, by this point, the throat infection I'd picked up in Yobbo still wasn't improving and it had now gone into my ears, I felt like the ocean was swirling round in there! After visiting the doctors and packed off with antibiotics, I missed the first surf lesson and had to instead go and wing it with the pros.

Cameron Diaz has a lot to answer for. Beautiful actress that she is, she's also a massive fan of surfing and there's always photos in the papers of her sporting a surfboard and making it look like the most glamorous pastime in the world. I can tell you now reader that this is not the case. Five minutes after wading into the waves, I looked like a bedraggled mess. The fact that I had an ear infection unsurprisingly didn't help my sinuses and my nose would not stop running with all the saltwater. Quite frankly, I looked like I'd been hauled out of a ditch. To make things worse, a nice German boy called Marcel had offered to teach me how to surf and he was riding the waves, looking really cute. Meanwhile I was desperately trying to stop the surfboard whacking me across the face or winding me in the stomach. I didn't stand on my first attempt but really enjoyed it. On the downside, the ocean effect in my ears had become much worse...

In the afternoon, Marcel and I went for a walk to Muttonbird Island where it's possible to spot dolphins and turtles. We didn't see much but it was a lovely walk and the sun had come out. The weather while I was here was mixed but the sun definitely shone for us and it was lovely and warm. The following days involved a snorkelling trip where I saw a shark and a plethora of fish which was pretty amazing and in the afternoon we went kayaking on the Creek. The Creek smelt terrible and was full of shopping trollies and wheelie bins but we still had good fun and even saw a few sea dragons into the bargain. In the evening, I went to watch the sunset over the Harbour, a must-do for anyone visiting here so I've heard.

On Thursday we eventually went to see The Big Banana. The guys in the hostel told us it was a bit rubbish but undetered, we hired some bikes for the day and headed off. The Banana itself is pretty big and provided lots of photo opportunities against the cloudless blue sky. They have even have a rollercoaster. Well, I use the term rollercoaster loosely, it was actually a massive slide where you go down on glorified tin trays. Still bloody good fun though, I screamed all the way down, mostly because I hadn't figured out how to work the brakes...We also watched sweets being made which was really cool, the smell of the place was sickly sweet, I couldn't bring myself to eat any of them once they'd been finished having seen the amount of sugar that went into them, yeurrgh!

Yesterday was another day of surfing. This time, I was in a wetsuit and not trying to impress any Germans. Typically, it was much better, apart from the fact that I kept getting tangled up in the extension cord that attached me to the surfboard and I kept tripping over it and falling over, cue much hilarity from the other surfers. But I did manage to stand up, albeit for about half a millisecond but still, it's a start. It's hard work too, I was completely exhauted! And by the end, I'd ripped the extension cord off the surfboard. I think I may need to practice a lot more...

I've stayed in Coffs a lot longer than I originally planned but it's been brilliant from start to finish, the weather on some days could have been better, especially for my first day surfing but still, I had a great time. Next stop, Byron Bay! :)
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