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BYRON BAY: 7th January

An early start awaited us so that we could make the most of what promised to be a good day. We got up and drove the last 30km to Byron Bay. Even at the early time of our arrival the little town was already brimming over with people and it took us a while to find a parking space.

After a breakfast of a fruit smoothie, a wander around the shops and a look in at the Visitor Information Centre, we took our place on the narrow golden sands of the Byron Bay beach. The waves here were exceptionally strong with a rip tide threatening to drag you out to see as soon as you stepped into the break. It was particularly challenging to try walking along the beach just inside the water as the rip tide washed in a Northerly direction on breaking and if its strength didn’t pull you over, it would knock you a couple of steps back. It would have been very challenging to get from one end of the beach to the other (a distance of a couple of kilometres) given that it took me a good quarter of an hour and a lot of effort to make about 50 yards of headway in this method. Eventually, I gave up and laid back on the sands, taking in the sun. I’m not a big fan of sun bathing as I quickly become bored of laying down doing nothing, but after a while, my mobile phone rang.

Dave and Nat had arrived in Byron Bay. After we’d last seen them in Sydney, they’d flown up to Brisbane and hired a camper van to explore the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast. They’d driven from Brisbane down to Byron Bay the night before and were experiencing some problems with their camper. I went to meet them, and found their campervan parked up on the Esplanade. The camper they’d hired was exactly the same type as the one we’d used on our trip in the South Island of New Zealand – only theirs was looking slightly worse for wear. The curtains were caked in mildew, the cooking equipment was covered in dried in fat and several bits and pieces had broken plastic. They were waiting for the arrival of a repairman as it was haemorrhaging water underneath the vehicle. After showing them a few tricks with using a Hiace, the repairman arrived and I returned to the beach, letting them know where we were so that they could meet us.

Before too long, they joined us on the beach with the story that the repairman had told them that the leaking was normal for the Hiace’s air-conditioning system… Not that any of us were convinced with that story.

Fresh yourself up with a fresh up, yeah! Jenny with a view of the beach at Byron Bay behind her. The beach is so long that we were able to take this photo without many other people being visible.

We headed off to lunch at a café in the town where we were serenaded by what appeared to be a reggae-skiffle group before heading back to the beach for another swim and a sun bathe.

By this time, the tide had gone out considerably and the narrow strip of sand had widened to a broad expansive of gold. Where the tide had been up earlier on, it had left a little rivulet of sea water behind which was rapidly evaporating and had gone a slightly unusual shade of green. This didn’t stop some kids from swimming in its horribly warm water, however.

With the tide out, there was less of a rip to it and correspondingly it was considerably less dangerous and exciting than earlier on in the day. It didn’t take long for the four of us to get a little bored of the beach and so we decided to have a look round the sights of Byron Bay. We got in our respective vehicles and drove up to the lighthouse. This marks the most Easterly point of the Australian mainland. The car park was full, however, and there was room only for Dave and Nat’s camper van. They got out to look around whilst Jen got out to take some photos before we headed off and away from Byron Bay.

The lighthouse at Byron Bay. A little walkway from here takes you to the most Eastern point on the Australian mainland. The carpark was quite expensive though. I'm coming home, I'm coming home... back to my Fujitsu comfort

Our accommodation for the night was in the little town of Mullumbimby. Once again, the hotel was pleasant enough, though unusually for this part of the world it had no swimming pool. After unloading the car, we headed into town to have a look around. We walked from one end of the town to the other, stopping for a look around the unusual railway station. The railway station was unusual in that it looked fairly up to date, yet the tracks were overgrown with grass and weeds. It was only after noticing that the level crossing had been deactivated that we could say with any certainty that the train no longer passed through Mullumbimby. As a note to Mullumbimby council: it may be worth removing the timetables that are still strategically placed at the station.

After a meal at the local pub, it was time for bed and a well earned night’s sleep.

Is Symo a character from the Black and White Minstrel show? The disused railway in Mullumbimby as seen from the derelict railway station itself, the sun setting in the background.

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