Leaving Byron Bay
Byron Bay is a GREAT place to spend some time. A bit "touristy" but still a GREAT place to just "kick back". What place that is well worth a visit doesn't have a some tourists? I have already mentioned the Lighthouse and the Easterly most point on mainland Australia but there is more than that. Excellent beaches (only half a block from town center),
nice little shops, excellent restaurants,
free wi fi access, maybe the "coolest" bar I have visited in a long time (and I have visited a LOT of them) :=) .
Score. BUT, I still needed to head north (had to meet Cory in Darwin on Oct 4th, remember?) and there was just too much to see and do. Going north along the Gold Coast, I stopped at a LOT of beaches and nice beach towns.
I even was able to get a little exercise on one of them.
I DID pass up this beach though since I wasn't sure how it got it's name.
Thought this might be a clue!
Ran into a place called Surfers Paradise. I looked for the sign I had seen in an ad but the only one I could find was this one which I think is MOST appropriate
because if I was stuck here this is where I would be, trying to make an escape. ;=} I think they just "named" it Surfers Paradise because I am sure all the surfers went south to the Byron Bay area. It was more like Miami Beach with all the high rises and traffic. Couldn't wait to see it in the mirrors. I have been taking the well signed "tourist drives" as they leave the main road and pass thru some very quaint little townships. Just past Brisbane, I saw a tourist drive named Steve Irwin Way.
Had to see what that was about. Ran across the Australian Zoo made famous by The Crocodile Hunter.
Didn't go in as the admission was $52. Julia said "did you see if they had a senior discount? You are OLD in Australia too you know." Still , I didn't want to put the beer money in jeopardy! :=) I was already starting to miss the beach when, as luck would have it, just on the other side of Brisbane, 200 or so miles from Byron, I ran across Mooloolaba.
Another GREAT place that would give Byron Bay a run for it's money for "coolness". Here I discovered "The Surf Club" which had great food, great patrons, cold beer, and yes,
it was right on the beach. :=) I met four guys on motorcycles that checked into the same motel at which I was staying (they are responsible for introducing me to the Surf Club which we closed up one evening). They gave me a lot of local information on things to see and places to stop on my way north. I overcame the urge to stay here longer and moved on north to Hervey Bay (another EXCELLENT beach town) where I booked a two day tour of Fraser Island.
Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world and it has a rain forest interior. I hiked thru some of the interior (actually I was "forced" to by the tour guide).
The island is about 100 miles long and averages 15 miles wide AND
you can drive on the beach for almost 90 percent of the circumference.
There are some SERIOUS four wheel drive roads in the interior
as well as some spots on the beach. Just crossing the beach to get on the ferry (they call it a barge here) was an adventure itself.
Entertainment for lunch on the second day was watching the less experienced "off roaders" try to negotiate a steep sand bypass road around Indian Head rocks.
I was VERY glad we were in the appropriate vehicle with a very capable driver. Got to swim in one of the many fresh water lakes on the island and "float" about a quarter mile down one of the largest fresh water creeks. There are several "must see" spots on Fraser Island such as Stonewood Sand Dune, (a huge dune actually moving across the island), Eli Creek (the one I floated),
Central Station, Indian Head Rocks, (the views from here are nothing less than SPECTACULAR),
the Wreck of the Maheno just to name a few.
I can't write about all of them but you can look some more up on the internet. :=) Lots of critters
and even a dingo
We saw a lot of terns on the beach.
The guide said you couldn't tell what kind they were until they took to flight. If they flew north, they were left terns, if they flew south, they were right terns, and if they came right back to the beach, they were re terns. (rim shot). :=)
It was an excellent two days BUT as I said earlier, I needed to be moving north and east toward Darwin. A couple more days riding should put me in Arlie Beach where I will look for a tour out to the Great Barrier Reef. Arlie is only a couple of days from Cairns where I will turn West toward Normanton and eventually Darwin. Hard to judge the "schedule" with so much to see and do. More later.
Many more pictures starting here. http://www.smugmug.com/gallery/4659871_pddif/1/369631740_ooVf2
Posted by Rick McDermed at September 16, 2008 03:47 AM GMT