Byron Bay was the first stop on my travels up the East Coast that I was truly clueless about. Before heading out to Australia I’d never heard of it, didn’t know of any landmarks or what the hell there was to do there. It also received the worst possible start.
Where on the last bus journey the driver had to violently swerve to avoid passing kangaroo’s, this time the threat took form of a little old lady driving the wrong way round a roundabout. I was rudely awoken as my ass shifted rapidly off the bus seat and hit the bar in front of me as the bus hit the old woman’s car. Not a devastating car wreck mind, however enough of a shunt to wake me up good and proper. The journey originally was to be roughly 10 hours which agonisingly turned into 14 as an endless amount of time was spent on the police taking their sweet time doing god knows what. Time wasted on asking everyone if they were okay, if they needed therapy for this life changing disaster etc. Personally I didn’t find it necessary for 8 police officers to be there for a bump that was less violent than one felt in a bumper car.
So we arrived in Byron Bay behind schedule, but at last we could find our hostel and take a well deserved rest. Wrong. Turns out “we can’t find your booking anywhere” for god knows what reason. No problem, just book us in now right? “we don’t have any room for you”. I’m not entirely sure who’s to blame, Peter Pans who arranged the entire trip? The hostel (Nomads, just for reference)? Us for not reconfirming? Regardless of who was to blame, I was fucking pissed. Made worse by the fact that the hostel’s solution for the problem was “you could go round the other hostels and ask if they have room” which was absolutely ridiculous.
In the end, after kicking up a bit of a fuss, they suddenly had a solution to our problem (funny that). The hostel also ran another hostel in town, and they had managed to get us room there for the duration of our stay. No questions were asked, I was happy as long as I had a place to stay.
We took a shuttle bus for a 5 minute drive a little way out of the centre of town to a hostel called the Arts Factory, which if you’ve ever watched The Inbetweeners 2, that’s where they stayed. I’ve never stayed in a hostel like that before or since, it was definitely unique! It was just on the outskirts of a rainforest, where the main building had your everyday average bunk style accommodation, bar, reception etc. The other half however was set up right into the forest, surrounding this picturesque lake, the accommodation being a series of tepees. I found this fascinating, being able to spend the night in a tepee in the middle of the jungle surrounded by enormous wild lizards and wild turkey’s roaming about the place freely. It was also surprisingly comfortable, the beds where the most comfy I’d slept on by that point, and the tree canopy’s shielded the tepee from most of the days sun allowing it to be cool throughout most of the day.
The days spent here weren’t very productive admittedly, mostly I enjoyed the atmosphere of the hostel itself, it was a relaxing place to spend your day! And after such a hectic few days, a few days of doing nothing was what I needed.
The one touristy thing that we did (accompanied by an English girl we met in Melbourne, Hattie) was go to the lighthouse found in Byron Bay, which (I didn’t know at the time) is the most Eastern point of Australia, which gave you an unbelievable view of both directions down the coast. It was the first real “hike” we’d done, and quickly informed me that I was nowhere near physically fit as my lungs were ready to burst after the first 5 minutes.
We also naturally visited the beach, where at this point i was still skeptical about entering the water, fearing a shark attack. Thankfully the beach had formed some sort of separate lagoon which I
spent my day
The rest of the time was spent indulging on Australia’s finest goon (4 litres for $10 (about £6)) therefore memory of the event is quite scattered. All I remember is meeting an American who said his favourite band was Oasis, which I don’t know why I found it so strange.
One last point. When asking about Byron Bay to other people, the general answer was the same, (albeit varying reactions), was that it was a Hippie haven…which could not be more true. I have never seen so many dreadlocks, beards and multicoloured shirts in all my life. There was one man who was collecting money with a freezbie as he juggled and a man who stood in the middle of a roundabout riffing on his electric guitar. Volkswagen campervans made up at least 50% of all vehicles in the area. It’s very much a place you either love or you hate from what I can gather. Personally, I loved it.
Next up, Surfer’s Paradise.