Byron Bay - As Alternative as MTV!

Trip Start Nov 29, 2012
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Trip End Ongoing


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Where I stayed

Flag of Australia  , New South Wales,
Sunday, April 14, 2013

I arrived in Byron Bay late on Saturday evening with two Danish guys I'd acquired enroute from Coffs Harbour. It was pitch dark and lashing with rain and the general consensus was that the forecast was yet for more wet weather. Typical. On first impressions from what I could see through the bus window was that Byron Bay was a main drag of clubs, pubs and restaurants.

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. She’d been staying in the YHA which was where I’d booked in and only a quick walk from the bus station. On the way, I met a girl from Livingston, just goes to show what a small world it is, especially on the East Coast.  On my arrival, I was greeted by who I can honestly say was the hottest guy I have ever seen. Hands down. He was a 20 year old surfer with blonde highlighted curls and amazingly tanned. When I’d finished shamelessly gawping at him in awe, it transpired he was called Alec and was from…errrrm…Bournemouth!

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’m hoping once I’ve got my scuba diving certificate, I can go back and have an explore. Apparently it has an abundance of sea turtles, sharks and an array of tropical fish which I would love to see. So I decided instead to go and see the famous Byron Bay main beach. It was only 10:30am and it was already packed with sunbakers. I’m not sure what I was expecting but was amazed at the sheer size of the beach, it stretched for miles. And the swell of the waves was HUGE, even some of the few surfers who had gone out to brave it were battling to stay above the waves.

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. It was the first time I’d ever seen them and even from a distance, they looked beautiful. I would love to swim with dolphins while I’m here in Australia, yet another thing to add to the bucket list!

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. That was until Dillion and Anna arrived from Coffs. We’d shared a dorm together and they were great fun, I couldn’t help but smile when they rocked up with some goon (read: cheap boxed wine which produces terrible migraines) and we had a lovely evening catching up. The next couple of days basically involved a large group of us being beach bums. There wasn’t a whole lot else to do and it was fun to just go swimming, sunbathing and bodyboarding which was a bit of challenge. I had wanted to go surfing but the rip was too strong and even bodyboarding was difficult.

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. My so-called wingman wasn’t helping much either, he was flirting with me the entire night!

Despair.

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!
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