So... I'm trying desperately to catch up on my entries, here. I have some amazing pictures and tales of Byron Bay that I want to share, even though it was about two weeks ago, now. I edited them all for color balance and clarity, but somehow only the originals were uploaded, and it takes so damned long that I gave up.
We had to wake up extremely early to catch the bus. The eccentric bus driver had no sense of the collegiate perspective on time and thought it was a great time to blare music on the bus. He certainly kept us awake. On the highway, he would stop the bus and turn around if we all didn't flap our arms like birds out the window to make the bus go faster. Anyway, here he is in his super-animate glory. Note the bare feet.
Despite the overcast morning, by the time we arrived the weather was great. No sooner did the bus stop, we were being given surf boards and shirts... which lead to a horrendous sunburn over the next few days. After getting assigned surf boards, we walked down to the beach for our lesson. Here are my fellow surf student's nice photographs of the path to the beach...
And this is the actual beach where we did our surfing:
You can see the waves pretty well here. They were quite erratic, so we had to keep moving around to prevent getting propelled at an angle, which is really complicated for someone who can barely float on the thing, much less stand on it. The instructors were really helpful, though, and wanted to make sure we all "got up" a couple of times. I stood (sorta) once on my own, and a few times with the help of the instructors. As horrible as I was, it was soooo much fun. It was also a great workout- we were all completely exhausted afterward. Here's the group of us after the surfing lessons were over. I think I'm trying to figure out how to make a "hang 10" hand gesture and getting very confused? You can see me looking like an idiot- second person in on the bottom from the left.
There should be pictures of us actually surfing, but we never got them from the surf instructor bums-- maybe I'll get them soon, but I doubt it.
After surfing, they gave us lunch (thank god). Everyone ate all the turkey while I was taking this picture, and I had to eat tuna, so you better appreciate it:
After lunch/recuperation, we headed out for Byron Bay, but not before our bus driver pulled over for a stop at his favorite country fruit stand. Amazing.
He introduced us to lychee (pronounced "lie-chi"-- I got yelled at for saying "lee-shay," like the French word...), which is a clear fruit on the inside with a rather large pit. It's sweet, but difficult to compare to any other fruit I know. Here are some lychees for sale:
The wonderful little rural farm:
Here are the beautiful farm lands across the street from the fruit vendor. The tall grasses in the foreground are sugar cane, which according to our tour guide make up one of Australia's biggest cash crops.
Here's a beautiful shot of a hibiscus bush growing next to the fruit stand:
We left, delicious fresh fruit in hand, for Byron Bay. When we arrived, the bus trucked up this gigantic hill through the rainforest, which made me very, very nervous. When we got to the top, the bus driver let us out and told us to start walking. He would meet us at the other end of the path. The first thing we see when we get off the bus and look over the railing is a most stunning view of Byron Bay, and also the neighbouring mountains. Here are some of my photos from our first glance at the most beautiful beach I have ever seen:
And the mountains:
Further up the hill was a view of the lighthouse:
We looked over the side at the water and saw DOLPHINS! Someone with a nice digital SLR and a telephoto lens got a great shot of two of them jumping:
I managed to get a couple with my camera, which I have cropped significantly, but I wanted to show how many of them there were:
According to our bus driver, the blob in front of the dolphins in this picture is a hammerhead shark. Honestly, I'd be surprised if you could even see the blobs.
We also saw some adorable sea turtles coming up for air, but none of the sad attempts at photographing them amounted to much. Nevertheless, they were beautiful, and surprisingly large. We continued our walk up to the lighthouse. This is when my camera died. Luckily lots of people have been nice enough to share. This is my favorite of our group's millions of shots of the lighthouse up close:
Walking away from the lighthouse, we came upon wild Easter Lilies:
Here is a sign pointing down the path- pretty self explanatory:
Here's a nice shot of the path to the "most easterly point":
And the point itself-- the closest I'll get to the U.S. during my stay in Australia:
Some people walked all the way out to the point, but we chose to go to the beach that had been tempting us from our first peeks over the other side of the point. Here's a sign indicating the highly anticlimactic rainforests:
I say anticlimactic because they are not at all the tropical, steamy jungles you see on Planet Earth. I'm in the process of planning my excursions to such jungle territory at present, so hopefully I'll have some more interesting rainforest pictures soon. Anyway, we proceeded down the path... Here's me getting a few more glances at the beautiful Byron Bay beach...
Coming down the path...
Hitting the beach...
The tide created a shallow super-warm section at the front of the beach and a sort of sand island in the middle. We played in the waves until we couldn't any more and then sat in the shallow part to see the sights.
Afterward, the bus driver brought us to "downtown" Byron, which is a very small beach town off the less stunning section of the beach. A couple of us grabbed a beer, exhausted from an essentially perfect day. I parted ways to meander through the adorable little shops. I bought a pretty white embroidered summer dress (they are popular here and I am trying to assimilate, or at least that was my excuse) and a pair of peacock earrings. What a day! Coming soon: entry on Nimbin trip last weekend. Catching up slowly, but surely...