When we woke up the next day it was raining and it continued to rain all day long. I couldn't help but feel that it just wasn't right. It wasn't supposed to rain in Australia. I mean, this was Queensland, the Sunshine State. Every picture or story I had ever heard about Australia hinted at the fact that it was always warm and sunny. It's just how it is. And yet, here we were, on one of the most beautiful beaches in the middle of the Gold Coast and it was cold and cloudy and raining.
Being the sunny destination that it is, there are a limited number of activitites that one can participate in during a rainy day in Australia on the Gold Coast. The wildlife sanctuary we had planned on visiting was out. The place was 95% outdoors. We thought about going to a magic show but it was only on the weekends. The haunted house cost sixty bucks and so did Ripleys' Believe it or Not. We decided we'd rather not.
It was then that I remembered the best activity for rainy days in America. The movies! So we hopped in our Corola and drove towards the nearest theatre. Here we found the Tom Hanks film, Sully and watched in horror as the plot unfolded. The movie is about a flight that went wrong and so the captain had to pull an emergency landing in the Hudson River, near New York City. The movie ended on a positive note but Patricia did not think it was a great movie to watch before boarding a seventeen-hour flight back to the states. I thought it wasn't even a good movie to watch before flying to Sydney. Still, we enjoyed the film and applauded Tom Hanks for his never-ending versatility as an actor.
That night we landed ourselves in the final destination of the road trip portion of our trip. Byron Bay. I don't know about Matthew and Patricia but I had looked forward to Byron more than any other place on the coast. For months and months I had heard about how awesome this place was. Everyone said it was the land of hippies; a cool, laid-back town with beautiful beaches. So what may have happened might have been a result of my all-powerful imagination and the unavoidable trap of over-hyped recommendations, but when we pulled into town I was seriously disappointed. It wasn't hippie. It wasn't even laid-back. What I saw was an upscale shopping district with tons of people rushing around everywhere.
The hostel we checked into didn't help my first impression of Byron any. There was a long line and when we got to the front the man working the computer was friendly but not so helpful. He couldn't find us a room for all three of us and he couldn't even find us beds for two nights. Frustrated, Patricia called the hostel next door and also a hostel in the nearby town of Nimbin. Before the man could finish clicking his mouse Patricia had us a room booked in Nimbin for the next night. I was pretty grateful because Byron didn't seem like the place I had hoped for. It was supposed to be the pot of gold at the end of our rainbow! It was a pot of gold, but a rich man's gold; gold I couldn't touch or enjoy or even understand.
So Patricia and I stayed in a five-share girl's dorm and Matthew stayed around the corner in a male dorm. Patricia and I walked in to find our roommates were twenty-two year old party girls. They both wore lots of make up and had long flowing locks complete with short skirts and tall heels. When they told us they were from Sweden, it all made sense. I swear Sweden had the most beautiful people on the planet. Somehow...
After formal introductions the girls asked us which bars we would be going to that evening. Patricia and I tried to maintain composure as we explained that sleep was our number one priority. The girls looked confused so I jumped in and assured them we'd be going out to enjoy at least one drink.
After mustering all our strength, Matthew and Patricia and I walked downtown until we found a place that sounded musical but not too loud and not too upbeat. It was called the Railway and the longer we sat there the more we loved it.
Up front we watched as a one-man band played the banjo with his hands and the bass drum with his feet. He had a very folksy vibe that reminded me of the string bands in Northwest Arkansas. We all three had a good time as we listened and laughed at the nineties come-back outfits surrounding us. All these young hipsters and their fancy clothes...
Shopping & Sightseeing
The next day we spent the morning wandering in and out of all the cool shops. We bought lots of souvenirs and even enjoyed some fresh Aussie meat pies!
We shopped all morning and then headed to the lighthouse. The view from there was unreal. The picture below has no filters and no edits. It was that clear of a day! We even spotted a couple of sharks in the water beneath us. Unfortunately there was a shark attack a few days after we left.
After lunch we laid on the beach and soaked up the afternoon sun. It was so relaxing. Byron definitely has a class A beach!