18 October 2014

Whales, and Up Against The Wall, America.

What could all this possibly mean? Well, let's try to bring you all up to speed. Lennox Head campsite is now two nights behind us. We enjoyed our time in Lennox, taking in the chance for more coastal sightseeing at the viewpoint on the headland. We were lucky enough to observe more whale activity in the waters a couple of km off shore. Given the reports that we were coming to the end of the whale migration season, we are happily taking any chance we can to see more whales. It seems that this area is ideal at the moment.
It appears that Lennox Head has the reputation of being  Byron Bays quieter cousin. Not as busy. Just as clean and tidy, but with only a reasonable smattering of backpackers. There seems to be still a strong local sense of community in this town, despite the thriving aussie tourist industry which is something that becomes very apparent when travelling through the bustling town of Byron. More on Byron later perhaps.
Other things about Lennox, well, like many of the coastal view towns, ther are lots of really nice houses. Holidays homes, second homes, weekend places, call them what you want. Much more in the way of tourist development might spoil this small town. It seems to have the balance just right. For the moment at least.
Leaving Lennox, we head back South along the coast, only for a little while to the viewing point next to Lennox called the Pat Morton Lookout. Here we had our next sigtings of whales out on their migration journey south. Also, there is access to a small, but nice point break to retreat to when the longer sandy beaches are perhaps a bit blown out or crowded.
Our journey then took us to our next stop, where we would stay for the next two nights. Not far from Lennox, further North along the coast, you come to the mecca for backpackers, Byron and Byron Bay. First stop, lightouse. Towering high above Wategoes beach, the lighthouse gives direction and reference to passing ships, and you might be forgiven for saying whales too! This is where we have witnessed whales in full breach. And not just one either. We think we saw two distinct groups of whales. Straight out from the most Eastern point of mainland Australia, we saw whales blowing and some tail slapping on the surface. Around to the Byron side of the lighthouse, we saw whales breaching with tail and fin slapping, seemingly much more active than the first group. We followed these whales as they made their way around the ligthouse head where they started to fully breach. Starting with the cow, she fully came out of the water, and even at several km looked absolutly massive. Through the camera lense, i could see two calves breaching next to her. Those too, coming fully out of the water. Certainly a site i will remember for a long time. I just hope the photos come out! But this wasn't the end of our marine wildlife viewing. On another point on the Byron side of the lighthouse, a pod of dolphins, much closer into the land, were playing in some surf next to an offshore reef. The pod was made up of around 15 to 20 dolpnins, sometimes jumping, sometimes playing in the waves, but generally always in a quite tight group. As an introduction to Byron Bay, this wasn't a bad way to start!
We made our way back through Byron and out towards Tyagarah. Now, Tyagarah is not really marked on many maps. It gets a mention as a place name in the lonely planet, but this is where we were to spend our next two nights. It was time to leave the comfort of the campervan, for the luxury of a proper bed for two nights. We were staying with Jane and Craig, relations to Ali, on their small hillside farm. We also later met with Sally who came up to the farm to see us. From the outset, they were the epithome of kindness and generosity. After a guided tour of the farm by Craig and some warnings on snake awareness, we were joined by his wife Jane on the veranda of their lovely house with views out across the countryside. Later, sally joned us and Ali renewed her aquaintence with her family members, whilst I got to know these lovely people.
Craig is an accomplished author with many published works to his name, not to mention interviews for various newspapers and press. Jane, an accomplished climber in her days working in nursing in the UK, and Sally also training and working as a nurse in the UK. Without wanting to sound gushy, these people have been so kind to us during out short stay. We ate and slept the first night at their house. The next morning, we woke to a spendid breakfast. Breakfast seamed to last for ages, and was finished by talking about organising lunch! Anyone who finishes breakfast by suggesting and organising lunch is brilliant! We talked, and ate, and talked and ate through the most entertaining and engaging coversations. Craig had booked us in for lunch at the Byron Beachside Cafe where we were also joined by Billy and Amy. The beach cafe is tucked away in a quiet corner of Byron Bay, but is busy and bustling. It has lovely views out over the beach and the surf. Its setting is simply superb.
After lunch, Ali and I were taken by Sally for a stroll around the town of Byron. It become obvious by spending time with this people, that eventhough Byron is now very much a haven for backpackers and people travelling and working through their gap years, that it still remains a very special a meaningful place to the people who have lived there for decades. They see through all the visitors, and still see the beauty of the bay, for what it is and what it means to them. This is so good, and something quite special.
Ice creams consumed, Sally took us back to the farm where it was siesta time :-). The first time since we had been on the road that we were able to have an afternoon kip! What else are holidays for.
That evening, we went down to Sallys house. Sally insisted that it was her turn to cook for everyone, and she produced a lovelly morrocan type dish with cous cous, and a lemon pudding that was lovely. As well as a good cook, Sally also has a very good voice too. This was demomstrated to us when Craig took his place at the piano and started playing some blues, and Sally joined in.
I could go on for quite some time typing away in this blog of all the enjoyment and memories had and made during these two short days with these remarkable people, but I won't. These will remain with us for a very long time, and will be kept by us.
This morning was our last morning on the farm with everyone, and we were treated to breakfast and lunch before we made our way away from Byron Bay on the short trip past the Gold Coast towards Brisbane. It was a bit of a wrench for me personally leaving Jane, Craig and Sally this morning. The impact they have made in the short time I have known them is amazing. If the three of you ever read this blog, I say again, a big thankyou for everything, for putting us up and feeding us for our stay, for introducing us to the Byron Beachside Cafe, and to Craig and Jane for the gift given to us on our last morning with you. We hope to see you all again very soon.
That brings us on to the rest of today. We've made our way up the coast and time in our little campervan is begining to run out. With the bulk of the driving behind us, it was time to link up with some more friends. Tonight was the turn of Ruth and Neil. They live to the South of Brisbane and kindly took the time to track us down on our campsite here near the gold coast. Its been just over a year since we saw each other last, when Ruth left her role in PGL to return to her native Australia, dragging her man Neil kicking and screaming with her (hardly!) With the Gold Coast on a couple of junctions down the highway, they picked us up and headed down there looking for a parking space. Big spikey building located, park the car next to that, easy to find. Job done. Its been good to catch up with them both, but the year really has flown past and it seems like only weeks ago since we were all together in Ross Vegas.
Did you know, in the Gold Coast, pairs of young girls clad in gold bikinis and not much else walking the streets looking at parking meters and topping your parking meter up if they can see your time is up or running out so you don't get a parking ticket. I wonder if we could get this to work in Ross Vegas?
So, thats a catch up and a half. The last 3 days in one post. Hoefully most of the higlights are in there. Tomorrow, we track down Cara, who can paddle a raft, shoot you, patch you back up and study whilst bringing up a family all at the same time, and prepare for our final night in the campervan before we leave it behind in Brisbane and catch our plane to Adelaide.

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