We left Sydney on a 12-hour overnight bus into Byron Bay. Upon arrival, the town was bustling with tons of backpacker’s, shops, restaurants, not to mention a huge beach full of sunbather’s, surfers, and soccer balls. After checking into our hostel, located less than a block from the beach, we lathered up with sunscreen and challenged the sun for an hour in the 105 degree heat. The sand on the beach is so fine, it squeals and screeches with every step you take. Completely overwhelmed by how un-tan I actually am and the aftermath of the sun’s powerful rays, we head back to the hostel where we fortunately met a bunch of Irish traveller’s in our dorm. They invited us to join them for a barbecue the following day to celebrate Australia Day and we happily accepted and picked up some additional food early the next morning for the festivities.
After securing a prime piece of real estate under a grove of shady trees near a path to the pristine white sand beach, we set up the grill lent to our group by an Australian traveller from Melbourne. We cracked into the local favorite, Passion Pop, a fruit-flavored champagne with a measly cost of $5 and before long we were all well under way with the celebration. Football tosses, a soccer game on the beach, drinking games, and lots of food, champagne and wine rounded out the international party complete with Irish, English, Dutch, German, Australian, and of course, two Americans. We grilled snags (sausage links), steak, lamb, veggies, onions and Erin and my concoction of halved brussels sprouts and fingerling potatoes. The others had made pasta and potato salad as well, so needless to say, I was completely full at the end of the day and had a terrible case of the hiccups. 🙂 It was a great day spent with new friends and we will luckily be spending some additional nights with all of them over the next couple of weeks up the East Coast.
thE nExt mOrnIng, wE hOppEd On A bUs And An hOUr And A hAlf lAtEr, wE ArrIvEd In nImbIn, A plAcE pAIntEd wIth A OnE-cOlOr pAllEttE; grEEn. AftEr brEAkfAst, wE rOAmEd thE shOps And strEEts, bUyIng sOme blEAchEd-whItE hEmp rOpE As ErIn nEEdEd sOmE tO mAkE jEwElry.
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wE snAckEd On thE wOrld’s grEAtEst rUm rAIsIn IcE crEAm, mAdE EAsIly At A rAtIO Of OnE bOttlE Of rUm And A kIlO Of OrgAnIc rAIsIns pEr scOOp. It wAs pErfEctly tOppEd wIth A scOOp Of thE rEgIOnAl bUmpEr crOp, mAcAdAmIA nUt. prIce fOr A dOUblE scOOp: $4.20.
As thE bUs twIstEd And wIndEd Its wAy hOmE pAst thE grAzIng pAstUrEs And gEntly-rOllIng hIlls, wE lOOkEd EAst tO thE trOpIcAl And lUsh mOUntAIn jUttIng UpwArd, nAmEd mOUnt wArnIng. It Is frOm thIs sUmmIt whErE EArly-mOrnIng hIkEr’s, If tImEd cOrrEctly, ArE gIvEn A trUE AUstrAlIAn trEAT, A vIEw Of thE sUns vEry fIrst rAys.
Home of Australia’s fifth best surf break, our new mates did some research and found that Lennox Lodge was far cheaper than staying in Byron Bay so after Nimbin, we all hopped the shuttle for a 20 minute ride. We arrived pretty late and after a dip in the pool, the Nimbin Nine as we had been named, just relaxed in the rooms and turned on the boob tube to watch the Australian Open final.
The following day, Phil, Holly, Erin and I walked down to Lake Ainsworth, a tea tree lake about 10 minutes away from the Lodge. It is surrounded by tea trees so the water has a beatiful brownish tint to it (which stained Erin’s white bathing suit!) and tastes pretty nice as well. We found a rope swing and being the oversized kids that we are, proceeded to set up camp and make a day out of swinging and splashing into the giant teacup of a lake. Afterwards, we spent more time in the pool and cooked a big meal for the whole group to enjoy. We met some Americans who were working at the lodge in exchange for free accommodation and after dinner we head down the block to the beach for some acoustic melodies, sing-a-longs, and star gazing. The Southern Cross constellation was (and typically is) easily visible just as the Big Dipper is for those in the Northern hemisphere.
Phil, Holly, Erin and I took the shuttle the next day back to Byron Bay where we rented a car and made the hour and a half drive to Mount Warning (with another pit-stop in Nimbin for supplies.) We set up camp (Phil and Holly bought a cheap tent), cracked open some Goon and played cards until some Aussies from Adelaide came over and joined the party. After lights out, we head over to their newly remodeled tour bus complete with decked out lounge sofas and vintage late 80’s, early 90’s decor. Realizing we had to wake up in 4 hours for the hike, we bid farewell to our new friends and their sweet bus and hit the sack.
At 3:30 a.m. the alarm went off and after a slow start due to the downpour all night, the goon and only four hours of sleep, we hopped in the car for the short drive to the trailhead. As a group of four, we only had the two headlamps that Erin and I had packed so visibility was next to nothing for the first six kilometers of the hike.
A bit of insight into Australia first. The spiders are plentiful and they are as big as your hand and it’s home to seven of the ten most deadly snakes in the world. I am deathly afraid of snakes and can’t really say I’m a big fan of spiders either, so the hike was literally like face all of your fears, snakes, spiders and the dark all wrapped into one.
About one kilometer into the hike, I was heading up the rear and sure enough, a snake slithers into the bush to my right (hands down the biggest snake I’ve ever seen in the wild.) My heart nearly jumped out of my mouth and punched me in the face for being foolish enough to think I would be capable enough to complete this hike. After nearly turning around, we carried on and every step became more and more calculated. Eventually, I learned to just look straight down as if I was walking a high beam and pretend that the eyes that were surely watching me all the way up the trail were not even there. Tree roots would stop us dead in our tracks and heart rates would jump up again to the near face-punching levels. Slowly but surely we made our way to the top where we came to a rock-climbing section that had a chain rope up the side to help you to the summit. It was very slippery due to the rain but we made it to the top right at sunrise only to realize that the view consisted of nothing but clouds. Although it was a great trek and I dearly needed the exercise, the next time someone suggests a hike in the dark there is no chance that I will be participating. Once was enough.
We drove back to Byron, exhausted, and took the shuttle for one last night in Lennox. The next morning Erin and I hopped the bus north to Brisbane for some much needed relaxing. We have been invited into the home of the family of our friend Sarah from San Francisco.
More to follow soon…