June 18, 2010
Getting to the coast brought a very different energy to our trip- better weather for the most part, sandy feet and surf!. As we drove along the very pretty gum-encased road into the little town of Rainbow beach, the sun came out from behind the rain splattering clouds, illuminating the white barked Ghost gums and there in front of us, framing the town was a rainbow.. no, a double rainbow! Whoa! A double rainbow! (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQSNhk5ICTI) I knew it was a good sign and sure enough, not only was our campsite located right next to the toilet, but the sun came out in force the next day for our fun trip down Rainbow Beach to surf some very small waves. Perfect for me to practise on! Rainbow beach was so named by the Aboriginals for the amazing rainbow coloured cliffs that swoop down to the water. Legend has it that the cliffs were coloured when Yiningie (the spirit of the Gods representing Rainbow) was killed in a fight, spreading his ‘colourful’ spirits across the cliffs. There was also a really great restaurant with a fire place and a huge comfy sofa in front of it. Bliss! From Rainbow Beach we went to Noosa, where we walked on the beach, watched the hundreds of surfers on a very small point break, had an ice-cream and window shopped our way back to the car, deciding that it was a little too busy for us. We made our way down the coast with the plan of bypassing Brisbane and had almost past it, when I found out that we had cross Brisbane town centre to get to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. Cue turning around, getting lost, Rijk questioning the apparently OUTRAGEOUS demand to see koalas, me digging in my heels and through tears saying that I wasn’t going any further till I had a picture taken with a koala, turning around again, asking directions and finally getting there. By that time Rijk had calmed down and I had calmed down, however my eyes were too puffy to make the $16 photo worthwhile. Sigh. Can’t have it all I guess. But, on the up side, we did get to see a pair of Tasmanian devils having a fight and the cutest duck-billed platypus playing in his tank. Also many, many koalas!
The next highlight was the drive inland to Murwillumbah. This area is absolutely magical, with huge ferns falling over sparkling, gurgling creeks, moss covering every rock and bird chatter filling the cool air. Mount Warning, which is the highest mountain in the area and looms over the valley, is the remains of a 20 million yr old volcano. We went for a hike up its majestic slopes, marvelling at the towering eucalyptus trees, the massive cycads and the awesome views that appeared around every corner. Laser birds (our name) called out their Paul van Dyk backing tracks and whirled across our path chasing each other into the dank undergrowth. If there are any fairies left on this earth, they live here, hiding in the rich bark of the ancient trees or under the green mossiness of the centuries- worn rocks, using the floating dust motes as steps into the sunlight and riding side saddle on the flamboyantly coloured birds.
When we got back to our campsite, we decided to take a spin to Nimbin, the famous hippie town of NSW. One of our audiobooks, “High Noon in Nimbin” had dealt very comprehensibly with the town and its main tourist attraction, marijuana, and we felt that since we had spent many hours listening to the book (highly recommended!) we should check out the town. The drive to Nimbin took us through Uki (love the name!) and past Nobby’s Creek. Also past an increasing amount of Organic fruit stalls, bio-dynamic cafes, home-grown produce for sale on the side of the road, handmade wrought-iron decorations on the arty gates and all things hippie. The town itself is amazing. Most of the shops are dedicated in some way to ganga, whether it be smoking paraphernalia, the Happy High Herb Company offering alternative mixes for your joint as well as the most bewildering array of herbs I have ever seen, books on growing weed, a marijuana museum and cafes offering deliciously tempting munchies. Even the supermarket had specials on cake mixes in case you wanted to make dope cookies. Weed wasn’t sold openly, but as I walked down the street I was quietly offered weed by numerous tied-dyed dealers. Tibetan blankets, Nepalese prayer flags and Indian jewels took up the rest of the shops, watched kindly by Buddha and Ganesh, all floating in a mist of incense and weed smoke. I loved it! The campsite however, wasn’t as awesome as the town, so on we pushed to Byron Bay.
Byron Bay was the meeting place for all the surrounding Aboriginal tribes in times of old, and revered as a very special place. Now it’s a meeting place for backpackers and surfers, but I think that Byron Bay still feels like a place of magic. There is something in the air there, a feeling of harmony, that comes through in the open faces and ready conversation of the inhabitants. The beaches are long, white and uncrowded, dolphins surf the waves alongside the surfers and we saw whales just beyond the breakers almost every day. We stayed a few days there, soaking up the holiday atmosphere. Angourie was next on our itinerary, recommended to us by the owner of a hippie shop where Rijk bought a fire staff and I bought glow in the dark poi (the hippie versions of Rijk & Jen!). Angourie is supposed to be one of the best surf spots in Australia, and Rijk had one of his ‘best ever” surfs there. We slept in a parking lot on the beach, next to a beautiful park full of banksia trees and the brightly coloured lorikeets. The café up the road served amazing chai and carrot cake, played wicked funky jazz and offered an amazing selection of off beat magazines to read. All too, too good.
After sleeping in the parking lot for 3 nights, when we got to Crescent Head in the cold rain, we decided that the time had come for a night or two in a bungalow. Ahhhhhhh…. a private bathroom with hot water and a toilet! And a TV, a bar heater , a veranda looking onto the beach , a kitchen, a huge bed and a bakery selling amazing pies within walking distance. Life’s luxuries! After such luxury we were planning on spending the last night in a campsite, but when we got to Terrigal late in the afternoon, we found that there were no campsites. HHmmm…tough one- so we booked into a very nice guest house that came with an outdoor spa bath. All this equals a very happy Jen arriving in Sydney the next day!