17.01.2010 - 24.01.2010
After Fraser Island we head down the coast to Surfers Paradise. It's full of huge rise hotels that cast a shadow over the beach every afternoon. Not really our kind of place, we stay there just one night, then skip on down to Byron Bay.
Byron Bay's a lovely laid back sea side town. We stay at the Arts Factory, a hostel with a real hippy vibe to it. There are turkeys and lizards wandering about. They have plenty of normal dorm rooms, but somehow I find myself in a tent! Well it's more than a tent, it's a pentagonal canvas structure that sleeps eight girls. The bed frames are all made of bamboo. It tops the list so far for my quirkiest room! With just a zip to close the room though I do get a little worried about animals coming in, so opt for a top bunk, higher up seems safer!
Byron Bay has great beaches and nice little shops. Up high there is a lighthouse that has the brightest light in Australia. Although redundant now, it once served an important purpose. Heading up to visit it gives a great view of the coast.
While in Byron, we go on a snorkeling trip to Julian Rocks, 5 minutes out to sea. We're kitted out in wetsuits which have the added bonus of being quite buoyant, good news for me with my tendency to sink. The trip starts off well, spotting some dolphins on the boat heading out. Once in the sea, although it doesn't compare to the crystal clear waters of Thailand, there are plenty of fish about. I see a stingray too. We're about ready to get back in the boat when Alex spots a turtle! It's absolutely beautiful. It looks ancient but moves through the water so gracefully. We follow it along underwater for a bit, watching it come up for air remarkably often. Sadly, with no waterproof camera, I've nothing to show for the sighting, but I'll always remember it. Back in the boat, everyone else on the trip seems to have been stung by jellyfish, so we count ourselves pretty lucky to have seen a turtle and not got stung! Later that day I head to the beach. It's littered with blue bottle jellyfish washed up all along the shore. Australia has stunning coastline, but it can be a little risky dipping your toes.
After Byron we head down the coast bound for Sydney. It's a long drive, so we break it up with a night in Port Macquarie. Here, buoyed by our turtle sighting, we go for a walk in a little forest in the hope of spotting the koalas that supposedly live there. No such luck. We drop by the koala hospital the town has though. Here they care for injured koalas and keep them until they're recovered. They're funny animals, spending most of the time asleep. There was a kookaburra hanging about there too. They really do laugh, it's quite a sound!
Continuing with our Australian animals, we spot some kangaroos shading themselves under trees on the drive down to Sydney where we now are.