Port Macquarie to Byron Bay

Sydney to Brisbane trip (part-2)

Note: I have changed names of my friends. Most of the pictures here have been clicked by them.

I like to surround myself with people who are better than me. They help me stay motivated and often give invaluable advice. Most of these people have been in my life for over a few years but whenever I meet new ones, I make sure to stay in touch. 

I met this guy, Adam, during the UNSW Heroes programme. He was one of the people in the organising team and was also a recent graduate. I knew he had moved to Brisbane a few months back after switching jobs, so I was keen to catch up. I am happy that I did, because that turned out to be a highlight of the trip.

Adam studied his undergrad and worked for a bit before deciding that he hated his job. So, he started over and studied another degree. I think that itself is pretty inspiring. Adam and I discussed ideas and talked about solving problems that we saw around us. He recommended some nice places. 

A useless ride on the boat
Turn back. You do not have the right car to travel through here.

The route through Limeburners Creek National Park seemed tempting. On the map, it was really close to the ocean and we imagined it to be a scenic route. So, we took the ferry which got our car to the other side of the shore. It was quite exciting- taking the car on the ferry and everything at just $5!

Go saw residential area on both sides of the road and it seemed like a place for retirement. But once we got to the road that took us through the park, we realised that it was a gravel road. Nope. The car was an ancient Toyota driven by someone with no car repairing experience. As we drove, I could hear the gravels hitting the car like fireworks. The road definitely needed a 4-wheel drive. We turned around after a few metres (without any incident!) and as we got back on the tar road, we saw a lady nodding at us. Then we went the other way and realised that the ferry was the only way for our car out of there.

Back to A1.

Chris had to use the washroom on the way to Coffs Harbour. I told him that we could stop at any of the gas stations, but he decided that Urunga was a better place to do the deeds. He was 100% correct, because I don’t remember seeing a lagoon this pretty. No, I don’t think I had ever seen a lagoon before that (but I might be wrong). I started walking on the bridge over the lagoon waters that stretched for about a kilometre. We spotted different sizes of fishes in their own shoals, and I thought some of them were transparent. Or maybe their colour just matched the sand?

Da Lagoon

Plenty of fish in the lagoon

Not a good idea to swim here

There were signs warning people against going into the deeper parts, which were separated by a row of rocks. You could see the water moving outwards, and there was no white water as well. However, there were stairs to go to the shallow parts within the rock boundary and we saw some people going down there to fish. I was paranoid about the presence of quicksand and didn’t bother.

We still hadn’t eaten but Coffs Harbour wasn’t that long. We reached the place at around 2 or 3 because I remember starving. When we got out, Kev noticed that the front bumper had come off a bit from the side. I tried not to panic. We looked at the car check diagram from the car company and noticed that the part was previously damaged. Some relief, but I asked the boys to not slam the doors as we were driving an ancient chariot without full cover and a few grands’ worth deposit.

At the Harbour, I had a box of fried seafood and chips, but I asked Chris to get some veggies. He had eaten fried chicken for the second consequent evening without much greens. You know where this is going. He didn’t listen.

The Muttonbird Island Nature Reserve is a short hike from the marina. Chris felt unwell and decided to sit at a bench while Kev and I explored the area while eating an ice cream. There were signs on the island to avoid the grass and stick to the pathway as there are birds nesting under the grass. It reminded me of the tiny penguins at Phillip Island which nested underground. Kev wanted to wait another 1hr or more for the sunset. I am sure I would have been an amazing site but checking in the hostel and getting some groceries wasn’t a bad idea either.

View of Coffs Harbour

The hostel was full of backpackers from Europe and elsewhere. We later learnt that most of them worked on farms. I am so glad we didn’t stay for two nights here because it felt like one of the dorms in India that has the facilities but is unclean in its ways. The kitchen had a number of insects and the cleaning materials needed to be replaced last month.

Kev wanted to have a look at some of the sites. I was barely functional but couldn’t be bothered coz we needed to get groceries as well. It was past sunset at that point. Kev walked around the area while Chris and I chilled in the car, listening to music.

Back at the hostel, we sat with a few guys from Europe, UK (yes I said it), and USA. One of them decided that we had to play a drinking game and convinced me into it. We poured a bit from our bottles into a cup which was now a cocktail of goon and beer and some raspberry flavoured drink. We played a game of guessing fingers on the table. Look it up or something, I won’t waste words on it coz the game is basically meant to get one person super drunk like King’s Cup. The overall taste was okay. How do I know this? Coz I lost and had to finish the thing. Good luck being my co-passengers the next day!

A road trip has been in my books for ages. Gathering a few friends and driving to another city or across the country and listening to songs we all love. Turns out it’s not that straightforward. The three of us are from three different countries (depending on what side of the argument you’re taking)- China, Hong Kong, and India. The taste in music couldn’t be more varied- I’ve taken to English music from the 70’s, 80’s, and the Synthwave genre. Chris is more into Korean music. Kev listens to old Chinese, but more of Japanese pop. Chris does not understand Korean and Kev does not understand Japanese (but they try). The diversity in music was strong though, which is important. 

Kev and I found a common ground though- ‘Road Trip to Tokyo’ playlist on Spotify. That is one nice playlist. Not a good one if you’re sleepy though, but its soothing. For much of the trip however, they plugged in their earphones and the only sound to me was that of the music. I am glad that my phone GPS was screwed up and the person sitting next to me had to navigate in the town area. But boy would I have loved to sleep on the highways. 

The hostel manager at Coffs Harbour had recommended us to visit ‘Look at Me Now Headland’ to watch wild Kangaroos. I have been in Australia for over a year, yet I hadn’t seen kangaroos before that. I saw a lady approach a few kangaroos and I could see the rest of the mob stare at her from a distance. I was funny and a bit intimidating (I know those hoppers can run/hop at a good speed). Quite chill creatures though.

Look at the joey in the pouch!

Just some Aussie natives here

Part of the road to Byron Bay had fields on both the sides (was it sugarcane?). It was a nice change of scenery as we headed to Yamba for lunch. We were recommended Yamba by the local girl we met at Port Macquarie. She had grown up in that area and felt that the town needed a bit more attention. I didn’t see signs to Yamba until we were only a few kilometres away from it. Guess it’s not a popular place after all. We didn’t go around much as we had quite a bit to go. Kev decided to grab a lunch after finding a Chinese restaurant nearby. He wasn’t hungry for anything else I suppose.

Byron bay has some narrow roads for a touristy place. You can see the hippies everywhere. There’re shops with crystals and other decorative and coloured items that you might find use for if you were high on substances, or if you genuinely liked them. No judgements.

We got a beautiful view of the town from the hilltop where there was a lighthouse. We didn’t bother to wait for the sunset and headed to the beach. A crowd had gathered to listen to a guitarist, but we decided not to wait. Chris and I decided to sit and chill on a bench while Kev took a stroll on the beach. I wanted to switch off and end the day.

One of the views from the hilltop

Lighthouse at Byron Bay
I will sleep like a Snorlax! (spoiler: I did not)

The YHA hostel at Byron Bay is pretty nice. It has good facilities and is well kept. Having said that, I had the worst night stay ever at this place. We downed 20 chicken wings each for dinner (they were $0.10 each with $15 of beer). I got my laundry done and crashed on the bunk bed, as I wanted to take the surf lessons in the morning. A few noisy couple enters the dorm at 2am and decides that it’s a good place to bang. Being a light sleeper didn’t help. Being on the top bunk while the couple did the deeds at the lower definitely didn’t. After some time when I had enough of the rocking, I asked them to stop (there’s nothing to be ashamed of when the couple has crossed all the boundaries). So that was another highlight of the trip I suppose.

The drive from Byron Bay to Gold Coast was obviously fuelled by coffee.

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