June 2024

Chillaxing in Byron Bay


Ok, starting to get caught up on blog posts here!

We arrived in Byron Bay after a long bus ride with the surfaris tour. After picking up the kids of the owner at a house, and dropping off Danny and Kyle (our surf instructors) at their house, we were off to the hostel. We stayed at a place called “The Arts Factory” – the surfaris group has a deal with this hostel so that they would guarantee us beds upon arrival. I figured it would be a good place to stay since all the friends we had made would also be there. I was a bit wrong – only about 8 others stayed at the hostel…the rest had either gone back to Sydney or were staying somewhere else in Byron. It was still fun, however.

View of Byron Bay

View of Byron Bay

Checking in was a bit of a process, as the chick didn’t realize Scott and I were a couple (even though I handed her both passports), so it was looking like we’d both be in separate dorm rooms. This set me on a bit of a tyranical rage, as I was exhausted from all the surfing and partying and just didn’t have the patience for it. We managed to get things sorted out so that we were in the same 10-person dorm – awesome. I’m not a fan of dorm rooms much bigger than 6, so again, I was pissed. We get into the room, and all the beds except for two top bunks across the room from each other were taken. This set me off again. I was immediately hating Byron. I managed to calm myself down, and cursed the poor man in the bunk below me who would have to deal with my tiny bladder syndrome of getting up 5 times a night and shaking the whole bunk unit.

So, first night was rough. We went to bed sort of early, as least as early as was possible due to noise – our dorm was right next to the bar…the Arts Factory is an interesting place that is mostly outdoors and consists of small units spread out in a wilderness area that has lots of bugs, geckos and bush turkeys.

A good night of sleep did us well, and feeling more encouraged about being in Byron and all the wonderful things we’d heard of it, we set off to explore. Our hostel was about a 10 minute walk into the main town. Upon arriving in, we were greeted by lots of cute shops and restaurants, so we had breakfast on a nice little patio. We then found a Peterpans (a sort-of travel agency that came highly recommended by a few people we met) and managed to book essentially the majority of our Australia trip. We’re staying here a lot longer than planned since we have so many things to see and do, so we’re actually not leaving until February 6!

A night out at the Beach Hotel

A night out at the Beach Hotel

After that, it was time to chill on the beach. A much-needed relaxation time…although it didn’t last too long because Scott is still suffering some pretty wicked burns from his surf insanity.

Despite trying to have a quiet night to ourselves, we managed to get talked into going to the Beach Hotel, a bar on the beach, with all our surfaris friends. Most of them were leaving the next day, so it was a big goodbye party. We had a wicked time hanging out, drinking, and listening to a live band play (which was awesome). It was a super fun night, and a good way to say farewell to all our new friends.

We woke up Sunday morning and quickly boarded our bus tour to Nimbin. Nimbin is a teeny town about 1.5 hours from Byron up in the hills, where hippies retreated in 1973 for some massive Aquarius celebration, and just never left. Apparently, it’s a good area to grow marijuana and mushrooms – the cow dung in the surrounding fields yields great mushrooms for the hippies (or so we were told). The tour started off with a jaunt to a little water hole complete with a waterfall and some cliff jumping, which was super cool.

Scott cliff jumping

Scott cliff jumping

One guy nearly killed himself by trying to clear a huge jut-out of land…it was actually pretty scary. We then went to the Channon Markets – basically like our Farmer’s Market at home, but complete with way more hippie paraphenelia. We got some sugar cane juice which was super cool, and a frozen fruit thing which was delicious and much needed on the wonderfully hot day we were experiencing.

Our last stop was Nimbin, and man, was it weird. We got a briefing before going in, and were told some pretty crazy stories about people getting really high and thinking their legs were missing on the bus ride back. Scott and I had befriended two guys travelling together – one from Great Britain and one from the U.S who were pretty intent on purchasing some local goods, so we decided to hang out with them and see how their experience was.

Walking around in Nimbin was definitely an experience. Everyone was pretty weird and sketched out and all of them had little blanket markets selling weird things. However, that was just a cover; as you would walk by, they would subtley whisper “cookies?” All of them had an assortment of marijuana cookies for sale. All of them different prices. So, off with our friends to watch their experience, we started walking. Finally, the guys got up the courage to talk to a girl who was selling weird little dolls but who whispered “cookies” to us as we walked by. They had done some market research, and hers were the most expensive – but she claimed they were “very strong.” The guys decided to go for it, while Scott and I watched uncomfortably – who knew what was in those things?? They could kill them! Upon purchasing their order, the girl said “Hide them. Take them quick. There are cameras everywhere here. If someone asks you were you got them, tell them you found them.” There were definitely no cameras – this chick was super high and paranoid. It was funny, but really sad.

Crazy weirdo hippies on the main street of Nimbin

Crazy weirdo hippies on the main street of Nimbin

We spent the rest of the hour or so walking around and checking out the shops, which were all really weird….except for one called “Bringabong” which sold imitation Billabong clothes. It was pretty funny.

Scott and I were pretty ready to get back on the bus, because we felt Nimbin had a strange vibe – not carefree and hippie, but like people would rape and pillage to feed their fix….a bit East-Hastings-eque. We were also wary of the bus ride home – most of our comrades had purchased a little souvenir, so it was sure to be an interesting ride. And that it was. It started off innocently enough, but then giggles started to break out everywhere. People thought EVERYTHING was hilarious, including one guy who was falling asleep off his chair. Others were grooving in their chairs to the music…and yet others just had their eyes closed with little smiles on their face. It was pretty interesting to watch.

We arrived back into town with our two friends, flying high as kites. They needed to go to their travel shop to pick up some documentation – we decided we’d come along, as we had booked at the same place and got to use the internet for free. The exchange between the guys and their travel agent was hilarious. She knew they had just been to Nimbin, since she had booked them on the tour, and had to explain things over and over again as they stared with glazed eyes at her. It was pure comedy. She took the situation really well though – that’s Byron Bay for you. Very relaxed and cool.

We all decided to go for sushi after the travel agency escapade, which also proved to be hilarious. The guys could no decide, for the life of them, what they wanted to order. The waitress got a few giggles over them as they sat there with their shades covering their bloodshot little eyes…and it just proved really funny for all.

We were all staying at the same hostel (the Arts Factory is the largest in Byron, and it was cool, because about half of our hostel was on our tour), so we walked back together. The guys were still so out of it – they kept thinking we were going the wrong way and had no idea where they were going. Thank goodness Scott and I were there to guide them back – they very well may have wandered off into the bushes!

By this time it was getting pretty late, so we just all hung out in the common area of the hostel until the guys basically passed out. It was a hilarious day, and definitely one to go in the memory books. Nimbin is one freaky little place, and definitely a different experience from anything Scott and I have ever seen before!

Kenna on her bike in Byron Bay

Kenna on her bike in Byron Bay

Our last day in Byron was pretty chill. We decided to rent some cruiser bikes from our hostel, and rode out to the lighthouse lookout to get some wicked views of the Bay. You had to walk the last part, since it was mostly steps, so we left our bikes locked in a parking lot. After walking back and spending about an hour on a really gorgeous beach, we had to walk back to get our bikes and catch our bus to Brisbane. As we were walking back, we randomly ran into our friend Amy from the surfaris tour! It was so unexpected – she had left the tour early to go to Melbourne and was supposed to still be there…but she said she missed the beach so much and was so inspired by Scott and I and our travels, that she randomly booked a flight and came to Byron all by herself! It’s funny how small the world can be sometimes. 🙂

We got our bus to Brisbane in the late afternoon, sad to be leaving the chilled out attitude of Byron for the big city, but really content with the atmosphere and diversity Byron and Nimbin had given us.

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