13 to 21 October – Melbourne to Byron Bay

12 Oct 2015 Melbourne Airport
Stayed at Ibis Budget Hotel the night before my flight. It certainly was budget! No lift. Tiny shower/toilet. Basin didn’t fit in the bathroom. No tea/coffee in room. There was free wifi but I was too tired to use it. The bonus was a short walk the next morning to check in at Jetstar.

13 Oct 2015 Melbourne to Byron Bay
Up at 6.30am to get a plane at 8.35am. Checking in online and having the boarding pass sent to my phone was a timesaver. Enough time to have breakfast and catch up on my emails/Facebook after walking the long haul to Gate 30.
Caught an earlier bus to the accommodation, which was a bonus. Didn’t have to wait an hour for the one I booked. Only half an hour to Shelley Ave to meet Jade, my host for the first few days. She has a very steep driveway but the view is lovely. My room is lovely too and has a great view as well. The bathroom next door is handy.
Had a cup of tea with Jade and we chatted about our lives a little. Then I went for a walk, more like mountain climb! It is very hilly and the roads a very windy. Found Top Shop Cafe for lunch which was starting to fill up when I got there. It’s about halfway to the Byron Bay shops and beach from where I’m staying. Continued on to the shopping centre and found a nightie in the op shop for $2.50. Forgot to bring a summer one! Walked along the Byron Bay foreshore towards the lighthouse. Didn’t quite make it though. The thunder and lightning had me scurrying back to cover. Dinner was in ‘Earth and Sea’ Pizza and Pasta for vegetarian lasagne with salad. Very filling and tasty. Thought I would never get back to Shelley Ave. I was so tired by then. It was also getting dark and beginning to rain again. Made it by 7.30pm for a welcome shower and rest.

14 Oct 2015 Shelley Drive to Byron Bay Lighthouse
Slept well. Up by 8am and off to Top Shop for muesli, fruit and yoghurt. Straight along Massinger St to the coast and the walk to Byron Bay lighthouse. It was worth the walk. Waited for a guided tour by a volunteer. He was very knowledgeable and told us that the lighthouse is automatically run from Canberra now, along with every Australian lighthouse. They know when to replace a bulb or a machine needs maintenance. The lighthouse has recently been renovated including the paint stripped off internal walls and all internal fittings removed for repainting. There was a film crew doing a fashion shoot while I waited for the tour. The view from the top is spectacular. Even saw some dolphins playing in the surf. Made me want to go for a sea kayak so I booked on the way back into town for Friday morning. Had lunch at The Pass on the way down after passing the most easterly point in Australia. Saw some sea eagles soaring above the point and also a lizard, as well as the usual bush turkeys and ibis. Also booked a bus trip to Murwillumbah on Sun 25 October to see Phil and Barb and Olive at the Information Centre. Bought a top for the sea kayaking at Lifeline Op Shop.

Went back to Shelley Drive to freshen up and read a patchwork magazine I’d bought. Ruth popped in to say hello and invited me to dinner at the Railway Hotel. Peter (her husband) fixed up a bike and we all rode there. Another couple of their friends joined us there (Heather). I had a salmon salad and the others had fish and chips. A singer started at 7pm and we listened for a while. After a quick stop at the supermarket we headed home in the dark. A bit hairy but much quicker than walking.

Off to the farmers market and breakfast at Ruth’s place tomorrow.

15 Oct 2015 Byron Bay Farmers Market
Over to Ruth’s for breakfast. Had to wake them all up as they slept in. Helped myself to tea while they got ready. Muesli, yoghurt and milk, with sour dough toast for breakfast. Late start to the farmers market for a browse with a stop for coffee to peruse the scenery and colourful characters of Byron Bay. Left Ruth, Peter, Heather and Mike and rode off on my own to get a feel for the place on a bike. Found a path that went past Cumbebin Swamp Nature Reserve, saw a royal spoonbill , over Belongil Creek, past Byron Arts & Industry Estate (not impressed) and ended at Byron Regional Sports & Cultural Complex, which was a bit of a non-event. Back the same way into Byron Bay for lunch at Mokha, a look at the art display at the library and back to Shelley Drive to freshen up for yoga later in the afternoon.

Peter drove Ruth, Heather and I to yoga at Purna, a training school for yogis. It lasted 1 1/2 hours but didn’t see that long. It was the instructors first time and they took turns taking different sections of the class. They were very attentive and helpful but not very loud and I couldn’t hear some of the instructions. Back to Ruth’s place for pasta and salad from the farmer’s market. I brought a bottle of wine and chocolate for dessert.

16 Oct 2015 Go Sea kayaking
Hayley picked me up from Shelley Drive for my sea kayaking adventure from Byron bay beach. Some instructions on what to do/not to do and how to do it first. Getting in and out of the water was the hardest part. I got onto the kayak and then got dumped off. Paddled out towards Julian Rocks. Saw some dolphins frolicking. In the distance we saw whales flapping their dorsal fins. Then spotted a mother and baby not far away. We paddled a bit closer and waited a while. The baby came closer and mum slapped him with her dorsal fin to tell him off. They both swam past us within a few metres. It was an amazing experience. They are so large but so gentle and seemed to know we meant them no harm. On the way back in some dolphins swam beside us as an escort. Dominic and I were first to paddle back to the beach. We caught a wave and then got dumped by it. All part of the fun. We weren’t the worst at it watching everyone else get back in.

Got dropped off at Top Shop and had lunch before walking back to Shelley Drive the shorter, flat way. Read for a while and fell asleep. Dropped in to Ruth’s place for a cup of tea before riding to the Beach Hotel for a drink then dinner at Asia Joe’s for dinner with Ruth, Peter, Mike, Heather and Christine who has just joined them.

17 Oct 2015 Mullumbimby market to Evans St
Get up at 7am to pack and move lodgings today to give Jade a go at cleaning my room. Nola Wilson and Peter’s sister, Liz are moving in and I am moving to the yoga house at 17 Evans St, which is not far away but closer to Byron Bay shops. I have breakfast at Ruth’s place. More participants arrive and most of them go to Mullumbimby market to kill time as we can’t get into the yoga house before 2pm. It is quaint with a band playing 70s songs. I get a samosa and salad and sit for a while after looking around the stalls. Nothing catches my eye and the others don’t buy anything except lunch as well.

By the time we get back it is well after 2pm so grab our cases and check out the yoga house. I am on the 1st floor at the end of the hallway on a corner in a single room. The house is enormous with 5 bedrooms, two have shower and toilet. It overlooks the Byron Bay lighthouse and the view is very good except it looks like a fire has been through as the vegetation is black and only just starting to revegetate. First yoga is at 4.30pm for 1.5 hours. I go for a quick walk down a track outside the house for half an hour as I haven’t had much exercise today. By the time I get back dinner is underway. Dahl with rice and tomatoes with yoghurt. Delicious and filling. Dessert is a berry sorbet. After dinner we have candle gazing but the music stops and says ‘charge battery’ and everyone kills themselves laughing. That’s the end of that! People staying with Ruth and at Jade’s place leave and the four of us are by ourselves. It is very quiet. I find a book and take myself off to bed.

18 Oct 2015 Evans St to foreshore/Lotus Palace
Breakfast at Evans St was a mix of seeds, cranberry juice and lots of other good things made by Ruth. Yoga at 9.30am then off to get ‘my’ bike from Ruth’s place for a ride along the foreshore and lunch at Succulent (Spanish omelette). Get dinner provisions from Woolworths and start back to Shelley Drive for a massage but it’s cancelled because Claire is running late. Back to Evans St instead for a walk to Tallow Beach. I saw a wallaby! And a bush turkey on the way. The beach goes forever and the track is very windy. Back for a shower and yoga at 4.30pm. Off to the Lotus Palace at Purna for chanting and people watching. I am drawn back to the 1970s flower power and hippie culture. Been there done that! When we had enough Barb, Jo, Liz, Veronica and Barb and I went to the Railway Hotel for a drink and something to eat. It was very enlightening. Music was a big contrast to what we’d just come from but more enjoyable.

19 Oct 2015 Barbecue at Wategos Beach
Breakfast at Evans St then yoga and a ride to the shopping centre. Lunch at Fishheads on the foreshore was beef cheeks that were delicious. Pity the view was marred by the carpark. A cruise along Jonson St to check out the shops properly was on the agenda as I haven’t done it properly yet. Didn’t buy anything but I did have a massage done at Shelley Drive by Claire who was very good. Dozed off towards the end. Then I had to ride back to Evans St for a quick shower before yoga at 4.30pm. Dinner was a barbecue on Wategos Beach. Tofu and tempeh delights with salads and dips. Rode part of the way with Nola and Liz to the Pass then walked along the gorgeous foreshore. Pity we didn’t remember a torch for the walk back! It was a bit dark. Nola got our her banjolele for a sing-song for half an hour before bed. She really is a scream!

20 Oct 2015 Silent walking meditation
Early breakfast so we could go on a silent meditation walk along Tallow beach in Arakwal National Park. It was a very narrow, sandy track but no need to rush. We were spread out a fair way. Some of us saw a wallaby looking at us then he bounded away. The beach is so long; it seems to go on forever. We walked towards the lighthouse, which looked like it had a haze around it. I think it was seaspray. Back into the scrub and we came out at near The Pass. Had coffee and a piece of carrot cake that took forever to be toasted. It was tasty though. I showed Barb back to Evans St then changed for the beach and walked back towards Tallow Beach from the house. Nearly there when a small snake was in my way on the track. It wouldn’t move even though I stamped my feet and threw something near it, so I turned around and went back the way I had come. Rode to the main beach on the bike. Played in the water for a little while. The waves are enormously strong. It would be so easy to get swept out to sea. Sat on the sand reading for a bit and watching the scenery. Back for a shower and group dinner of soup and salad with kimchi (yuk). The entertainment for the night was singing bowls. They are made of quartz crystal and are played by rubbing or tapping them with a padded stick. There were about 8-10 of varying sizes. The deeper noises hurt my ears and I kept hearing a noise like a fire alarm, which was very off-putting. The others seemed to enjoy the singing bowls very much except Heather who has electrodes in her head and they gave her a headache. She has Parkinsons Disease. Will see if the singing bowls have a belated effect on my wellbeing!

21 Oct 2015
Rest day at Crystal Castle
Trisha, Christine, Veronica, Cath and I ventured out to Crystal Castle near Mullumbimby in Christine’s car. There are crystals everywhere in an extensive garden that includes many statues, a labyrinth, lotus pool, bamboo avenue, rainforest walk, crystal gallery and much more. Cath and Trisha have their fortune told and all the others listen to the singing bowls again. I wander around the buddha temple and rainforest and have a coffee milk shake and cake in the cafe then read next to the labyrinth until they finish. They come away all giggly like they have been smoking something suspect. It is really very odd. Then have no energy to walk back to the car. Must have been the double dose of the singing bowls. We make it back in time for me to join Mike, Heather, Jo and Claire to go to The Balcony for dinner and drinks. It really is a lovely venue. We share tapas and chat for a while actually on the balcony, which is quite wide and looks still original like the rest of the building.

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