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Andy’s Travel Diary

Wednesday, 17 May 2006

Location: Byron Bay, Australia


Iíve fallen in love with Byron.

Itís a small town just under half of the way up the East coast. Itís an essential part of anyones trip to Oz. Itís chilled and quirky to the extreme. Itís a haven for alternative cultures. Today i got chatting to someone from the Raelian religion which is the one that thinks world leaders are a group of reptilian aliens (donít worry mum iím still heeding your warning not to join any cultsÖeven the Christians). It doesnít have a McDonalds or a Burger King because the residents objected too much and it has Australiaís only Green Party mayor.

Everyone here seems to do yoga, healing or fortune telling. Tie dye t-shirts and cloth trousers are very big here.

The beach is gorgeous. It has the finest, whitest sand. To the left of the beach you can see Mount Warning and other peaks where the sunsets in the afternoon. A group of us headed there to watch the sunset and listen to the hippies play their drums and guitars. Amazing sunset. Just behind us the moon was rising but was about five times its normal size. Right in front of us some dolphins began jumping out of the water the very second the moon rose. A world apart from an evening in Maidstone or Medway.

There is also a lighthouse on the hills next to the beach. Seemed a short stroll so the next day i set off eagerly with no provisions and a wave to my friends that i would be back in half an hour. Four hours later, with sore legs, twigs in my hair and torn clothing i arrived back at the hostel (i may have embellished that just a tad). It would have been quicker if i hadnít taken the path through the rainforest. Still the view was worth it. Another fantastic sunset and i also stopped off at the most easterly point of mainland Australia.

Saw my first redback spider the other day. Further north you go the more dangerous creatures there are. Iíve decided to stay away from anything with bright colours, teeth or fins.

Am finally staying in a hostel that makes me feel iím backpacking. As i said in my last post, all the hostels iíve been staying at have been of a flashpacker style. This one is a hostel from the old school. I remember when my brother and sister came back from Oz in 2000 and they always used to talk of Byron and this great hostel called the Arts Factory, and now Iím finally here! Itís a great place. Highly recommend it. Itís full of interesting characters such as the bird man who walks around with a talking cockatoo (called Mr Pickles) on his shoulder, hippies, vibrating crystal therapists (!) and those who keep telling me my chakras need realinging (i keep telling them iíll do them for sexual harassmentÖperhaps i misunderstood what they meant).

You can stay in a bog standard dorm or a teepee! You can even stay on one of the many island huts in the middle of the tea-tree lake. Two of my friends took said option and woke up to find two iguanas outside their door which promptly ran after them. They moved into dorms shortly after.

Thereís a pool in the middle of the courtyard (been spending alot of time there), a hot tub (which is great for meeting people), and a wide variety of events. The other day i lay by the lake getting an hour long massage from one of the residents who was taking the massage classes on offer there. After that strenuous activity i decided i needed to relax so i lay in the hammock and vegged out. They also do bush walks, yoga and didgereedoo making!

Last night was the trivia quiz. The night before was the talent competition. I was going to perform the ĎRunning Maní dance but decided against it. The risks were too greatÖmy foot could break again. Itís a dance not be trifled with. Some good entrants. I would have won though. The woman who read her own poetry while her friend (wearing tie dye!) blew bubbles next to her would have given me a run for my money however.

Tonight is the fire twirling show i think.

Have hooked up with some people heading my way so tomorrow we go to Mount Warning for a climb and then we arrive in Surfers Paradise for some more sun, sand and sea.

Bye for now.