Used: 2008

From Brisbane to Cairns most people usually fly one way and take the ground the other. It’s a small (for Australia) stretch of land from Brisbane to Melbourne that most of the population of Australia jams itself into and there is a lot more to see and more competition for transport so people may bus, train, bike or fly in all sorts of directions around here. I knew there was stuff to see between Sydney and Brisbane and I wanted to take ground transport for that leg and then fly from Brisbane to Cairns and bus it back to Brisbane. The most popular ground transport from Sydney to Brisbane is doing a surf tour. These are huge sellers for the plane loads of Europeans coming over to a sun drenched country. But not for me. If I wanted to learn to surf, I would have years ago. There are a small number of tours that do inland country tours from Sydney to Brisbane and I really wanted to do that so I settled on Byron Bound Tours.

The tour was super cute. It ended up being me and 2 German girls, one who flew for JAL airlines so we chatted about the airline industry a lot. The other German girl hardly spoke any English, which should have warned me what was to come, but I was eager and naive and excited to be out of Sydney and seeing something new! The first day we stopped at the Australian Reptile Park, the first of what would be many animal reserves I would visit and saw the usual line-up of animals. After a quick tour through the Hunter Valley wine region and all of us proved to be super lame and didn’t buy any bottles, we spent the night on a farm, which wouldn’t have been my first choice of accommodation, but since we were the only group there in a huge dorm, it ended up being okay. It actually was really cold! The next day was farm-filled and we went horse back riding which was fun. The rest of the day I spent lounging around the fire and reading. The next day we drove inland, panned for gold and went on a rain forest walk before spending the night in the super cute little town of Bellingen. The weather the two previous days had been kind of crappy and our activity the following day was weather dependent. We woke up to a beautiful blue sky and went canoeing on the Bellinger River. After two quick stops at the Big Banana and the Big Prawn we drove in to the super cute town of Byron Bay!

Me at the Big Banana in Coffs Harbour

Me at the Giant Prawn in Ballina

For all reasons, I should haven’t have really liked the town. Beachy, fully of bars and close by to the town of Nimbin, which is known for pretty much being full of pot. But I loved! Byron. It incorporates the wealthy and backpackers really well and there is something for everyone here. On my first day, I did nothing but book a snorkeling with turtles tour for the following day and the next a day tour of the area with nothing planned for my last day before I had to catch the bus to Brisbane for my flight up the Cairns

(I was skipping Surfers Paradise because while everyone I talked to loved it, I knew it was totally not for me. New Zealanders loved it because it was hot and sunny and beachy and has all the countries amusement parks, of which NZ has one and it’s really lame looking and Australians love it because it’s like their version of Las Vegas. With knowing all that, it seemed to me like if Las Vegas and Orlando and Los Angeles and Miami mated and out popped Surfers Paradise, I decided to take a pass. And I don’t regret it)

So the 2nd day, I rise early for my snorkeling tour only to find out they have overbooked it and if I would like to come back later they’ll give me a full refund, plus I’ll get to take the afternoon tour. SCORE! So I am up for the day and I wonder around town before my tour in the afternoon. The tour was so much fun! They took us out in small boats to Julian Rocks and throw us in with the turtles and we swim around and can see them in our goggles. Totally awesome.

The next day, I rise early again and wait outside my hostel for the tour. The guy comes around at the arranged time only to tell me that the tour had to be canceled because the big group he had booked ended up canceling on him at the last minute and it was not financially viable for him to only take out one person! I was kind of pissed about this, but understood. He usually didn’t do tours on Monday (the next day) but said he would call me later in the day to see if anyone tried to book them but if not, I could go back to my point of sale and get a refund. So there went my day! I took a hike back up to the lighthouse and just sat around town and read all day. Plus, my hostel had a great rooftop to sit around on. And dorkily, there was a Baskin Robbins and they had my flavour, so of course, I had to get a sundae. So the day wasn’t a total waste! The guide called at the end of the day and said the tour was canceled for the following day. It was funny how my time in Byron worked out. If only I had switched the tour bookings, they probably would have both gone off without a hitch, but because I booked them how I did, they both ended up a little screwy! The next day I went back to Backpackers World and got a refund and had one more day to do nothing around town. But it wasn’t that bad! Byron is a great town to have nothing to do it. It’s so beautiful!

Moral: Byron Bay is a great mix of something and nothing to do, as well as price range. Everyone mixes quite peacefully. One of my favorite towns in the country.

Lighthouse at Byron Bay, the Eastern-most tip on mainland Australia

Expirenced surfers only at Byron Bay