Trip Start Jun 05, 2006
58Trip End May 03, 2007
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On my way to Coffs I was delighted to encounter another 'big thing' - this time the Big Prawn. I really do have visions of the Australian Tourist Board sitting round brainstorming and going: "OK, so we haven't really got a history to crow about, Neighbours is our cultural heritage - hell, let's just build big things
As soon as I got off the bus I knew I was going to love Coffs. Understated and a little rough around the edges - this place could have been designed for me. It's just off the Pacific Highway and is divided up into separate areas because it encompasses such a large stretch of coast. I was staying at a hostel in the jetty area and was picked up by a lovely Welshman called Neil who drove the minibus and enjoyed slagging off all the fake Byron hippies with me.
Another sure sign that Australia had shrunk into a pea-sized blob was when I got to my dorm and discovered I was sharing a room with (gotta get this right), Maja, a gardener from Italy. The last time I bumped into her was in Alice Springs where we shared muesli bars over breakfast and I wondered if my Italian (practically non-existent) was as good as her English. But still, she was very sweet.
What I loved about Coffs Harbour is that it's the good old-fashioned seaside town Byron Bay could never be. You can wander around completely uninhibited without feeling that you're being judged for wearing the wrong sarong or not having designer sunnies.
On the way back to the hostel I stocked up on some shopping and cooked myself a mean bowl of pasta while unwinding with a couple of glasses of red wine by the outside swimming pool. I had been completely charmed by Coffs and was looking forward to seeing Emma the following day. No more of this solitary lone wolf stuff for me!
She jetted in from Sydney the following day, armed with Mulberry handbag and BlackBerry. Emma was already looking considerably more tanned than she did in the Northern Territory, where I spent a LOT of time rubbing factor 30 into her back. Everything reflected off her at that stage. Now she seemed to have surpassed me in the league of tanned loveliness. The cow! We spent a lot of time that afternoon wandering along the beach and catching up on all the gossip. Emma was feeling a little hung over from the previous night, so we opted for a quiet Saturday night in
We were up early on Sunday morning to go on a dolphin cruise, which Maja joined us for. It was very nice indeed crashing through the waves and luxuriating at the front of the boat in our bikinis. Hell, it was almost like being aboard Peter Stringfellow's yacht - actually scratch that - it was even better as we didn't have to endure the sight of 'Stringy' in a thong. In the end we did see the occasional dolphin but they all seemed to be more interested in the surfers at a nearby beach than our boat.
After a fabulous afternoon of sunbathing, reading and taking the occasional lazy dip, I think Emma had fallen in love with Coffs as much as I had. That night we went out to a good old-fashioned family restaurant and made a toast to new friends and new adventures. I was sad to leave Coffs but told the hostel owners I would thoroughly recommend them to everyone I know. And plus, as we set out on our 3 hour Greyhound journey to Port Macquarie, I had someone to play Eye Spy with for the first time.