Tuesday, May 26, 2009

East Coast- In Detail!

Day 1- Thursday Surfers Paradise After packing up the Wicked Van, Julia and I set out on the road for our first destination of Surfer’s Paradise. Surfers is located on the Gold Coast, south of Brisbane and is described as plastic and as fake as a cheap spray tan. The stigma was true on first glance at the so called Paradise, but a quick drive outside the city center proved it to be beyond paradise. With beaches as far as the eye can see, perfect waves for surfers, a nightlife like no other, and national parks just a short distance away, I’d say it lives up to it’s name. It had been about 5 weeks since I had seen a beach and layed in the sun, so naturally, that was the first thing we did. It was great to get back into the water; however, it had cooled considerably. The air started to cool as the sun set, so we headed to some of the shops to take a look around. We asked a couple locals and a fellow Canadian what is the thing to do on a Saturday night- apparently it’s ladies night at every club and we were entitled to drink for free- and free is what I like! We buzz back to the van which is parked outside a hostel and sneakily use their facilities before we go out. I have to say that I’m not much of a clubbing person, but the drinks were free! 3 hours and three clubs later, we find ourselves being “entertained” by some male dancers and it’s hard not to snicker under the influence of several complementry champagnes. Suddenly they announce something of actual interest to me; a woman is doing makeup…for FREE! Of course I couldn’t say no to that; and the male dancers weren’t very coordinated anyway! I sat down in front of the artist and closed my eyes- wait- open them back up. I’m getting a spinning sensation. Ok, I wanted my makeup done so I close my eyes again. The whole room was spinning and the second I get off the chair I beeline to the bathroom to throw up. It doesn’t happen, but that was the end of the road for me. We sleep in the van that night and discover that it get’s really cold in that tin can. I wonder if it was a good idea to take a van south when it’s turning cold! Day Two- Friday Surfers Paradise- Lamington National Park We had been coaxed by a charming Irishman to stay an extra day in Surfers to do a pub crawl, which meant we needed to find something to do for the day. The schedule said we were to be heading to Byron and I hadn’t planned anything. But such is roadtrip life- there’s no such thing as an itinerary. Luckily, Lamington National Park was close by, and as a destination on my checklist, not yet checked, I thought it’d be perfect for a day trip. The drive up was as beautiful as ever, winding up narrow mountain roads. The land was lush and green with trees canopying the road. It felt almost enchanted. At the top, we took a tree top walk that guides you 20m above the forest floor to see life in the trees. Next we took a hike to McLean’s Falls- words fail me at the moment to describe what it looked like, but breathtaking will do. We made sure to drive back down before the sun set, and to get back in time for our pub crawl. There’s really not much to say about that. Moderately fun you could say! Day Three- Saturday Byron Bay Finally we were on our way to Byron Bay. I had heard so much about it and almost every traveler I ran into recommended it. My friend Marianne had been there 4 years ago and when I asked her what she liked the best, she told me about The Arts Factory. For months, I’ve been eager to see this hostel, and when I laid my eyes upon it, I was not disappointed. This hostel is one of the oldest in Byron with accommodation, bar, restaurant, and spa. You can choose to stay in a dorm, in a teepee, in a hut on the water or camp. Even though we had a perfectly good van to sleep in, I knew I needed to stay at The Arts Factory. Before we checked in, we scoured the town and all of it’s backpacker friendly luxuries; ie. Free internet! As well as heaps of travel assistance, the town offers all the amenities to stay for longer than you expected. It’s boasts a beautiful beach great for surf and swim, nearby dive sites, and coastal walks. If you pop into town, they have the best alternative/ hippie lifestyle stores and cafes. Being here I felt very relaxed and at home. I never wanted to leave. After exploring, we headed back to the hostel to see what was happening…it was Saturday night after all! After some hmmm-ing and haaawww-ing, I was called by the sweet sound of a didgeridoo from my window. Across the way at the Budda Bar, a band called Loonaloop was playing a set. I quickly went over and was absolutely blown away by the show. It was mostly an all girl group with a trance, psychedelic sound accompanied by didgeridoo and electric violin. After dancing my heart out and snatching up a cd, I was ready for bed…at the Arts Factory! Day Four- Sunday Byron Bay- Nimbin Sunday is synonymous with Markets is Australia, so when it comes to that lazy weekend day, you know you have to drag yourself out of bed to drift through the markets. There was a particular town about an hour and a half away that is known not only for great alternative markets, but for it’s non conventional lifestyle. And by non conventional, I’ll be blunt. The town is called Nimbin and it’s the marijuana capital of Australia. After the Aquarius festival in the ‘70’s, the hippies just never left, and never grew out of the hippie lifestyle. 30 years later, the town is characterized by funky murals, colourful buildings and hand written signs. The people are much more colourful; permanently stoned, hair that hasn’t been cut in 3 decades, and skin that will probably smell of incense till they’re put in the ground where marijuana would probably sprout in 6 months! It was a great experience to see these people living somewhat harmoniously together in a constant state of pot hazed euphoria, but after we were offered to my pot by 4 different children, and weed cookies by a crazy old lady, it was good to get back in the van and have it only as a fun memory. From Nimbin, we headed on a scenic drive past Mnt Warning and up to Nightcap National Park where we viewed yet another beautiful waterfall. Since the sun was beginning to set, we headed back to Byron for a Sunday Session at some of the bars in town. I had been lucky enough to end up in Byron at the same time as a friend of a friend of mine; Chad and his brother Greg. We ended up hanging with them at their hostel, Aquarius, then popping out to a bar down the street. The bar seen, however, was getting a little old for me, so it wasn’t as enjoyable and the previous nights, but good to experience the Byron nightlife.

Friday, May 15, 2009

A Wicked World

So today IS the tomorrow I worried about yesterday, and guess what, everything turned out alright. I've begun my Wicked roadie with a German girl named Julie. We left Brisbane on Thurday morning and headed to Surfers Paradise to soak up some sun and enjoy the Gold Coast night life. After much convincing from the Wicked Pub Crawl crew we decided to stay an extra day in the area. We needed something to fill our time so we drove up to Lamington National Park. The drive up the mountian was absolutly beautiful and breathtaking. We did a tree top walk and a 2h hike to a magnificent waterfall. My pictures will never do it justice. We arrived back in Surfers to begin our night out...6 clubs, free drinks and some bowling was enough to give me a great big headache this morning, but not stop us from hitting the road again. We have just arrived in Byron Bay; hippie town NSW! We're going to go to the beach and then roam the streets and try to hook up with some more backpackers, but that won't be hard.
I'm so glad to be on the road and travelling. A month was the original allocated travelling time, but I think I'm going to extend it as long as I can!!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

On the Road Again

Relax...ok, someone tell me to relax. I'm leaving...yeah I'm leaving, but not on a jet plane. In a Wicked Van...it's my dream and has been since that post you read months ago. Here it finally is. I love when things are so far away and then somehow end up on your doorstep awaiting you tomorrow. But today is the tomorrow that you worried about yesterday and it's all turned out fine. That's what my original van was supposed to say on the back. I was solely going to take it based on that saying, and because it has stars on the ceiling (read post back in December). But I didn't feel safe in it, so I have the one that says " Goddesses are just angels with big boobs"...which both my travel mate and I have, so good riddance.
Tomorrow begins the epic journey I have been looking forward to basically since I got to Australia. I'll be travelling for a bit shorter than a month and covering about a 1/4 of Australia. How cool is that! And just when I thought I would have absolutely no one to do it with, fate, and a cafe near work, brought me Juliane. She's a German girl, season world traveller, speaker of 3 languages, and needs to get out of Brisbane. She's keen on travelling but doesn't have a lot of dough, as per the greater population of backpackers. But she's awesome and I think we'll have a lot of fun.
I had dinner with my friends and roommates tonight just to say farewell. I'm excited to leave, but the feeling is bitter sweet. I'm so grateful for the many wonderful people into my life while here is Brisbane.
Now for some last minute packing...
See you on the Gold Coast!