Oz 5

Strangely, despite being up in the Gods I had a warm and peaceful night’s sleep and Jamie complained he had another freezing night down in the hellish depth of Shiela. Possibly the reason was that I had used two sleeping bags and he hadn’t. I think to-night will not be so cold.
Jamie’s alarm woke us at 5.45am, and after a quick warming coffee we were on the road for 6.15am. Just outside Katoomba we stopped and filled ‘Shiela’ up with her breakfast. The dawn was just breaking and I took several photos of a beautiful yellowing sky with a silhouette of eucalyptus trees as a mask to the rising sun.

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Today we drove to drive to Byron Bay, just south of Brisbane. With a stop for a breakfast that would have satisfied an Australian Great White, the journey eventually took us 11 hours. We took it in turns to drive and we followed the Pacific Highway, which for most of its route was fast and well maintained. What can I say about our journey?

1. We saw a lot of concrete and tarmac.

2. Quite large sections of it are being improved and so slowed our progress.

3. About every mile or so we would pass a police car, they must spend a lot on policing Australia’s roads.

4. There are a lot of squashed kangawallies and koalas on the highway.

5. The Aussie trucks are enormous.

6. The scenery along the route is varied and very beautiful (it was a shame that it just flashed by and was forgotten).

7. The further north we travelled the warmer it became.

8. Australia’s drivers are pretty good and courteous.

9. I have decided I like Australia.

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It was dark by the time we arrived at our Camp Site and after checking in we had some difficulty in locating our spot in what was obviously a very full site. In the end, after driving around and also on foot we found a nice Australian who told us the name of his plot and from that we worked out where ours was. Right next to the lake. Hmm, nice you might think, but there were mosquitoes about and this might prove to be a problem for Jamie. We shall see.

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After a refreshing coffee we drove to the beach, but not surprisingly found that in the dark there wasn’t much to see, only the lights of the town a little way down the coast, so that’s where we headed. Driving down the length of the main street and parking at the far end we set about exploring. Byron Bay is locked in a time warp and fortunately for me it is the seventies. Long hair, flowing flowery skirts, music and smiles abound everywhere. Flower power, peace and marijuana didn’t die it just moved to the antipodes. People were sat in groups on the pavement chatting or playing music, there was rock music coming in the park with little groups picnicking in the dark, all the bars and restaurants were playing music of one sort or another and everyone seemed to know everyone else.

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We chose to eat two very fine kangaroo burgers and chips with local beers in a bar that had a very accomplished blues band playing. Though Jamie mentioned this was not his scene, he had to admit that he was enjoying himself and bemused at the number of people who wanted to talk to him as we walked down the street. The locals were well wrapped up against what we considered to be the warmth. I remember many years ago going to Sausalito just outside San Francisco and being equally bemused discovering that the house boats in the bay were full of ageing Hippies, obviously having fled the establishment. Now there is a new Australian and much younger sect following the creed and living in Byron Bay! I really do like Australia.
Sadly as we left, a few drops of rain fell from the sky. Hopefully it won’t spoil our day as tomorrow I may rediscover my youth. Fingers crossed.

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