Byron Bay - As Alternative as MTV!
Trip Start Nov 29, 2012
115Trip End May 10, 2015
The guide book had warned that what had once been a unique hippie commune had become as 'alternative as MTV.’ At least I'd been warned...!
Something I’ve come to realise about the backpacker circuit is that it is almost inevitable to repeatedly keep bumping into people you’ve previously met. As I clambered off the bus, I bumped into Scottish Lynsey who I’d met in Port Macquarie who was on her way to her next stop
And there was me thinking he was an Aussie local…!
I was booked into a small dorm of four and my other roommates were really nice, two Canadians and a girl from Liverpool who seemed desperate to disguise her Scouse accent! Can’t blame her really…!
Despite the poor weather forecast, the next morning dawned bright and sunny and after a quick breakfast outside, headed off to see the sights. I had been planning to go snorkelling but due to the wet weather of the previous few days, all trips had been cancelled until Tuesday. Julian Rocks, just five minutes by boat from the mainland is reportedly one of the best dive sites in Australia
I kept a safe distance and kept walking to Broken Heads enroute to the famous Lighthouse at Cape Byron, the most easterly point of the Australian mainland. The views across the water from Broken Heads were stunning, the sunlight on the water made it look like it was glittering. After a steep climb through Palm Valley aka Snakes Ahoy (thankfully I didn’t see any!) I finally reached the Lighthouse which was built in 1901. It was even open at the bottom for tours and one of the Lighthouse volunteers gave me a couple of ink stamps of whales and dolphins on each arm, even though she emphasised that they were usually for children under the age of five. Now I know I look young for my age but that really is taking the proverbial! Stamped up, I took a walk out to the peninsula.
On the way, I saw a couple of people pointing out to sea and saw to my amazement, a pod of dolphins swimming alongside the coastline
On reaching the Eastern point, I traipsed out to watch the waves breaking against the rocks which was truly spectacular, if not a little scary. The tide was coming in and eventually I had to make a run for it in fear of getting swept away!
After a walk through the coastal rainforest, I headed for main beach and happened upon Danish guys again and the German posse from Coffs Harbour. We meandered back to the town itself to have a browse of the shops which offered mostly very hippie rainbow tie-dye and vests with crucifixes on them which was slightly strange. The people ambling around all looked like they were away with the fairies, playing guitars, braiding hair or just singing in the street! I liked the laid back vibe but got the impression that it was a seaside town that had been commercially exploited, there were chain shops on every corner and expensive cafes and restaurants obviously catering for the tourists and backpackers who were there in their droves. There was an entire street dedicated to travel shops which were an eyesore but offered free wi-fi so I couldn’t really complain!
Towards the end of my first day, I was at a little bit of a loss of what to do with myself. Since the clocks had gone back, it was getting dark at around 5:30pm and although there was surfer Alec at the hostel, the vast majority of the people at the YHA were about as chatty as fenceposts so decided to take up with a book
On my last night in Byron I was talked into going out with the group to a local bar called Cheeky Monkeys. I had absolutely no desire to go, it was a lovely evening and we’d been outside drinking goon since around 5pm. On the other hand, as we’d been sitting on the veranda, I had spotted a guy walk past with a surfboard, who didn’t have a shirt on and looked stunning and after a brief chat, he said his name was Alex (confusing huh?) and he was going to Cheeky Monkeys and would I see him there? Well! That was that decided then! With Dillion recruited as my wingman for the evening, we headed out. May I add at this point, the place was a complete dive and full of eighteen year olds who were really drunk. And to add to my woes, Surfer Alec was there and completely away with it and tagging along with me, somewhat ruining my chances of chatting up Surfer Alex
In the end, I hated the place so much I decided to leave, without any boys! Much to my annoyance though, at 3am I was woken up by Surfer Alec throwing up outside my dorm window. How quaint. If he hadn’t been so hot I would have been seriously angry but he made up for it by pottering around the next morning with no top on and even came with us all to the beach which was nice. But by day three, I was very excited about leaving and heading for my next destination, Brisbane. I even managed to wing a lift with Rob, an Australian who was part of our group and who was driving to Brisbane on Tuesday afternoon! Hurrah!