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New South Whales LIghthouse family

It’s episode 6! I’m more excited than anyone else that will ever read this, I know. I’m typing this above, I dunno, somewhere on the route between Doha and Copenhagen. And I’m almost up to date! On my headphones I’m listening to an album by Dave, some badly named hip hop artist from SW London, and enjoying all the references to places I used to frequent when growing up. But enough of that, let’s talk Byron Bay.

Byron Bay is a town at the northern end of New South Wales. We’ve been staying very close to the border of Queensland and New South Wales, in fact the border cuts the airport runway in half. Kevin had always planned to show me the place, and his desire to do so was not diminished by his hangover.

I should’ve been hungover too, really I should. We bought 18 beers from Balter and got through 16 of them, of various strengths, with very little food to go with it. When I woke up at about 5am, hearing the dog whining outside the caravan, my first thought was “holy shit that bed was comfortable”, followed by “why don’t I feel ropey?”. But I didn’t! Go me!

The girls, egged on by Auntie Jo who wasn’t working today, decided to opt for a day in the jacuzzi and pool so it was only me and Kevin who set off. 8am, I mean, what are we thinking? But there we are. It’s a pretty nice drive for only 40 miles or so, stopping at a farm called The Farm for breakfast.

There are some big shoes at the entrance, though not “Big Shoes” as if they were in the list of “Australia’s Big Things”. By now, on Friday morning, I’m a little miffed that I’ve missed out on some of the Big Things near where we’ve been. The Big Pineapple would’ve added an hour to our zoo trip on Tuesday, and the Big Lawnmower we drove past was a bit rubbish. Around here in NSW there’s some “Biggest Small Town” or something, but nothing that matches the Big Merino or Big Prawn or Big Banana. One of these days I’ll visit some more, but anyway, here’s those big-with-a-small-b shoes.

This is a working farm but with a track around the fields where the animals live, but before any of that I need to stave off my hanger. That’s “h-anger”, hunger-anger, not, like, a coat hanger. Anyway. Food. Blood sausage please.

Looks better than it tastes. The black pudding is delicious, everything is else is decidedly average. The cup of tea also comes in a pot that’s got ideas above its station.

Right. Food done, let’s look at some animals.

First are bees. I don’t like bees, but they’re not hassling us. There’s loads of them, and no audible buzzing. Huh.

A piglet sits in its food trough while surrounded by ibis. Ibis? Ibises? I have no idea what the plural is. Both sound kinda OK. Whatever.

Amongst the piglets are some giant pigs, presumably the parents.

Some hairy cows are across the way.

And this bird - a heron? Dunno.

But that’s about it. There’s one chicken - a rooster that had been patrolling the car park when we arrived - and bugger all else. It’s not really worth a visit for the animals alone, IMO, and given I wasn’t that fussed by the food either I’m not really sure why it’s so popular. Ho hum.

Byron Bay, the town, is not far along and that’s the next stop. On the coast here is the easternmost tip of the Australian mainland, and that’s where we’re going to walk to. Turns out we’ll park at one of the first car parks we find, making the walk much much longer and more strenuous than it needed to be.

There are some gorgeous views across the way to the mountains, over a flat sea on which large groups of kayakers are kayaking.

It’s a ludicrous day, weather-wise, for this ‘ere European. It’s July 12th, the equivalent of January 12th in the northern hemisphere. The British seaside don’t really resemble this on January 12th, does it?

It’s a steeper and more relentless walk than the foothills of Mount Warning the day before. After the boardwalk next to the road, the first thing we visit if Palm Valley - a steep downhill to where there’s a bunch of palm trees near a beach, on the other side of which is an even steeper uphill. Valley, see?

There’s another descent to a small beach before bouncing back up. Bloody hell. It’s very very nice though.

Eventually, with me sweaty as anything, we’re at the easternmost point. I do love me some geographical-extremity tourism.

Representing the Dons!

Here, we see whales. Like, tons of them. Back at the car Kevin had checked some app which details recent whale sightings, and indeed the Byron Bay website had said that June to November is the best time to spot them. Obviously we’d forgotten the bloody binoculars, but zoom lenses kinda help. Anyway, loads of breaches are visible with the naked eye. That’s why the kayakers are out in groups - they are tours, to get close to the whales.

Oh the whale!

It’s pretty amazing to see them so close to shore. There are loads of people around standing here watching them. A few boats make their way into this area along with three groups of kayakers; I estimate that in half hour or so that we spend there, we see a good 15 or 16 whales showing off. I love it, but my arms feel like they’re burning so I urge us to carry on to the lighthouse.

It is, of course, up another shitload of steps. And it’s a lighthouse. We go inside for maybe 30 seconds, and decide it’s not interesting enough to bother with the museum etc. Outside there’s a cafe and I buy ice cream and a bundaberg “craft” lemonade. Together, they constitute about 5 days of recommended sugar and I have a massive, uncomfortable rush very soon after finishing them. Oops.

Tracing our way back down, Kevin jokes that he’s pissed off we didn’t see any dolphins. Then a nearby kid says there are dolphins about, and looking over the fence we see a bunch of dolphins in the clear water very close to the shore. Holy shit!

Seriously! They’re swimming the same direction as we’re walking, meaning we get to spy on them regularly. How cool is this?

As we get back to the easternmost point lookout, a sea eagle starts to circle around. Very exciting. Neither of our cameras are really built to take photos of something moving so quickly over a challenging background at high speed, but I delight in doing a better job than Kevin anyway.

Eventually we’re back at the car and driving into the town, parking up so we can now find some lunch. Via a brief stop at a pub built into a disused railway station that happens to be showing the cricket highlights, that is.

Lunch is at the Byron Bay Brewery, which shares its premises with a day spa and cinema. Weird combination. The beer is nice, the burger is OK.

And lo, that’s our Byron Bay day trip done. There’s yet another brewery around here, Stone & Wood, so we pop in there to buy a 4 pack of their special 2019 edition porter to drink back at Nige & Jo’s. Via some very slow traffic caused in part by an accident, we get back to the house and again chill on the outside sofa with beer in hand. There is cheese and biscuits and then, most unexpectedly, a plate of chicken curry. Hurrah!

Come 8.30pm everyone is knackered except the teenage boys. Us Foremans all go to the caravan at the same time, knowing there’s yet another stupidly early start ahead of us on Saturday morning. I’ve got zero battery on pretty much any of my devices, so have to try and fall asleep without a podcast on. Is it even possible these days? (Yes, yes it is. Hell of a rhetorical question, that was)

Created By
Darren Foreman
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