By the time this posts we’ll have packed up shop in Brisbane and spent our first of nine months of nights in Melbourne-or as Australians say, Melbun. I haven’t had the chance to write about Brizzy or its surrounds, so I’ll steal this moment away from packing (anything to steal away from packing) for a peek at Byron Bay.
It’s difficult to portray Byron Bay’s appeal in photos. Its vastness requires a wide angle or other sort of fancy camera lens-then there’s the salty air, the sea spray on your face, the feeling you might fall off the edge of the world.
We went in the off season when it’s still a bit chilly. Byron gets congested in the summer-it draws in bajillions of people after the quintessential hippy, surfer paradise it offers. It’s striking these days to see a place so spectacular lacking in high rise apartments and shopping facilities along the water’s edge. Luckily, Australia has plenty of gorgeous beaches to choose from, so they relegated most of their beach development to the Gold Coast-north of Brisbane. Locals and tourists alike head there to take their fill of theme parks, zoos, etc. They come to Byron for its undeveloped magic.
The town of Byron lives far in from the water-it’s more of a beachy village really, with surf shops, sandy people and plenty of outposts for a juice. It’s right out of California, with less dude and no Whole Foods. We were at the bulk foods store (when in Rome) in town one day when we saw a group of people gathered under a tree. Word on the street was a Koala Bear had been spotted. We hadn’t seen one in the ‘wild’ yet and while the tree was in the parking lot of the Australian chain grocery store Woolworths, it was no less thrilling to see a Koala outside of a zoo.
My husband was fixated on a visit to a secluded beach just south of Byron proper. I acquiesced with reticence as I know what happens when he gets a bee in his bonnet: we end up on winding dirt roads for miles without soul in sight, we lose cell reception so Google maps (our guide) is no longer with us, we drive along unprotected cliff drop offs, we climb down mountain paths comprised of steep, craggy rock stairs.
All this time, I’ll remain silent. When we finally arrive my husband will say, “I know you’re so mad at me right now.”
And I will reply, “I couldn’t possibly be madder.”
But then we’ll stumble on this:
With untouched sand that looks like this:
And not another human in sight…
We took off all our clothes and ran around naked until we remembered we’re in Australia and there’s no ozone here. Protective gear was donned and father and son went off to explore. Look how tiny they are.
They returned with reports of an exotic cave.
“Bring me to it,” I proclaimed with an air of King George.
We went home exhilarated, with the tiniest glimmer of what it could have been like to discover uncharted territory.