Day Nine: Byron Bay
When we woke up, the sun was shining and it warmed my back as I ate breakfast. We started talking about our beach plans and then the pitter patter of rain halted that conversation pretty quickly. Today was Anzac Day, which is kind of like the Aussie version of Veterans Day to remember the men and women from Australia and New Zealand that fought in the Armed Forces. We went to the service at 10am, but the rain was pouring and nothing was happening. We strolled down the Main Street of Byron Bay and ended up at the beach just as a small parade of veterans and Boy Scouts marched past.
The beach was filled with a mix of families, surfers, and hippies in pirate hats and tie dye. Byron Bay is a hippie town with lots of people not wearing shoes and living out of their vans. There’s also plenty of hippie shops with the scent of patchouli I sense wafting out to the streets.
With the rain, we used the time to do some laundry in an attempt to get all the mud off from the day before. The wash sink had a thick layer of sand by the time we were done but at least our gear was wearable again. We walked across the street to Woolworths for lunch ingredients but since it was a public holiday, the flits didn’t open until 1pm. The crowd outside the doors was four layers deep and spilled onto the parking lot. It was as if a riot was about to break out just to get into the grocery store. We got in, stayed focused and accomplished our mission.
On Anzac Day, the local tradition is to go to the bars and play a betting game called Two Up. Every other day of the year it’s illegal to play, except Anzac Day. We went to the local RSL and witnessed the glorified version of heads or tails over a chilly beer. The locals were really into the game—all betting each other $5 or $10 whether it would be heads or tails. One Dad had a baby strapped to him but he just kept on playing. We jumped in once we got a hang of it but lost immediately. At least we can say we tried a local Aussie tradition.
After Two Up, we headed to the beach since the weather was holding off for a bit. Surfers were everywhere, catching waves next to the dolphins as the sun sank lower and reflected orange rays across the glistening sand. We walked along the coast until sunset and admired all the little kids that could surf way better than I ever could.
Back at the hostel, we cooked up some stir fry noodles and played Kings Cup with the backpackers until late. It was crazy because a girl that we had hosted on Couchsurfers in Sydney was working at this hostel and we had no idea! We caught up with her and met people from around the world as we played our game until bed.
April 25, 2018
Food and Drink: $20
Two Up: $5
Day Ten: Byron Bay
We slept in a bit after our night out with the Backpackers and decided to have a lazy day at the beach. The sun was finally shining and it warmed my entire body as we sat on the bench next to the beach eating our bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches. It didn’t take long to get in the refreshing ocean water along with the crowds of families and surfers. The waves were pretty small, which I was quite happy about.
We treated ourselves to frozen yogurt and then lounged by the hostel pool and then back at the beach. The people watching on the beach is top notch—especially in Byron Bay since it’s an alternative hippie haven. The group next to us was playing reggae, passing joints and doing circus tricks, like juggling, spinning, and scarf twirling.
We stayed until the sun sank down and the temperature dropped and headed back to the hostel for pizza night. A Canadian couple next to us started chatting and sharing some drinks. We also met an guy that was traveling on motorbike too—we’d seen his bike parked next to ours. It was fascinating hearing his stories since he’s ridden all the way around Australia solo on his motorbike—including the red center. He told stories of working on a cattle station, camping in the desert, and the amazing roads he’s travelled and places he’s stayed. It was inspiring to hear about and exciting to meet someone with similar passions.
April 26, 2018
Accommodation: Byron Bay YHA, $23
Food and Drink: $18