It was becoming a bit of a problem… arriving in the ‘middle of the night.’ Or maybe it was just that everything in Australia shuts at 4PM, when the sun goes down. We arrived at Beaches of Byron Campsite at about 9PM on the 7th June 2015. And it was SO dark.
There were NO lights and there were no signs for late arrivals.
We asked a suspicious looking Wolf Creek man, wearing a classic Aussie cork hat, what the protocol was for late arrivals. He told us to park up and tomorrow morning we could tell the camp receptionist that we had stayed the night. We trundled along a little dirt track towards the unpowered sites and hoped that we hadn’t run any unlit tents over in the process.
The darkness in this place just seemed to engulf our headlights.
That night, we prepared once again to be woken up by angry campsite owners for parking without permission. But fortunately it didn’t come to that… Guy and I went to reception and got away with paying for just two persons on the site. We were starting to think that the corresponding surnames led receptionists to think we were married. Not in fact siblings travelling as part of a group.
The guy behind the desk gave us a ‘beach front’ site which we were stoked about, until we realised that ‘beach front’ was more like ‘swamp front that lead to beach front.’ But we weren’t going to let it get to us. We followed the ‘beach track’ from our ‘beach front’ site to the ‘Beaches of Byron’ beach which wasn’t Byron Beach at all… and was instead Tallow Beach.
I was starting to get the feeling that we might have been conned here… but that was the last of our concerns. As after trapsing through thick tar like mud on the swampy ‘beach track’ and crossing multiple dodgy ‘crocodile crossings’ we found warning signs for brown snakes. You know the ones. The big, yellow, diamond shaped warning signs.
Are snakes prevalent in the winter? Are brown snakes even that dangerous? Aren’t crocs worse? Where are the signs for the crocs?
We spent a little time laying around on what seemed to be our own private expanse of beach which was (admittedly) stunning. Then we took a pretty long and arduous beach trek towards the Main Beach of Byron.
As we walked I could have sworn I saw something diving in and out of the water. When I stopped to shield my eyes from the sun, I realised I was totally right. I saw dolphins swimming in the huge waves that were crashing just a few metres away from where we were standing. This couldn’t be real… it’s just a trick of the sun. But no…
Our first day in Byron and already we had found wild dolphins!
When we eventually rocked up into Byron Bay’s main town we sat down for some lunch. The food at Fishheads was fantastic and I whole heartedly recommend the burger lunch deal.
The boys shot off to see if they could book themselves into an afternoon surf lesson as Fliss and I meandered through a few hippie shops. The Rainbow shop had a AUS$15 (roughly £8) rack which I couldn’t walk away from without buying a tie dye, pom pom hemmed beach dress. It was a bargain!
We soon came across Guy and Jack discussing excursions with Chris (soon to become the bain of our lives) at Indie Travel… and cutting a long story short we booked ourselves a three hour surf lesson each, a three day three night Noosa Everglades Canoe Expedition and a three day two night Whitsunday Sailing Adventure for AUS$450 each (roughly £237).
After a couple of cocktails on a balcony overlooking the main high street in Byron we decided to start our trek home. Only none of us had really paid much attention to how long a trek it actually was to get back.
Minutes turned into hours and hours turned into most of the bloody night. The only advantage to this gruelling walk home? I have never seen so many stars in my life. If I wasn’t so cold, I would have laid on that beach all night and just watched as the cloudless sky glittered above me. It truly was like nothing I have ever seen before.
As we edged closer and closer to home, the anxiety began to rise inside me.
Fuck… we’ve got to make it through the swamp before we get home. But there are crocodiles… and brown snakes? Are brown snakes actually dangerous though?
I saved the tiniest bit of battery I had left to shine a torch for Fliss and I as we picked our way through rustling bushes and around knee deep puddles. Toads hopped out across the path, scaring me senseless every single time and had me screaming and trying to climb onto Fliss’ shoulders in an attempt to save myself.
We never did encounter a brown snake… but a week later we happened upon a Wildlife Of Australia book. In which we discovered that brown snakes are the second most venomous snake to be found in Australia.
Our surf lesson commenced the next day at 9AM and it actually went quite well. Even if Terry was a little rough around the edges.
We were convinced he thought Fliss was a little bit special, since she struggled to make it up onto her feet after having past surgery in her legs. He encouraged her to knee board for the remainder of the lesson and continued to bully the shit out of me for trying to naturally ride goofy.
As we got out, once again, the dolphins made a special appearance. Byron was a magical meeting place for exotic marine creatures it seemed.
We were offered a discount on surf lessons for the next morning, but we chose to give them a miss. The weather was beginning to turn bad and instead of milling about the same bars and restaurants we had already seen, we decided to head on up to Surfer’s Paradise.
Which was actually the biggest mistake we’ve made so far.