With just a couple weeks in Australia left before a detour to Vancouver for a friend's wedding, our speed of travel increased in order to get from Fraser Island back to Sydney for our flight. With increased overnight buses, and a certain anxiousness to see old friends, not all of our stop-overs seemed quite as enjoyable as those that preceded them.
Brisbane and Coff's Harbour
Two places we would have stayed longer if we didn't have a flight to catch, both offered plenty to see and do, as well as comfortable places to sleep.
Brisbane: Free Modern Art and Natural Science Museums, easy to use water taxi that we rode from one end of the city to the other, many pockets for good food, cool street art, and interesting nightlife.
Coffs Harbour: Free canoeing, cheap whale watching, fishing at the docks, harbour jumping, pizza night, and the most enthusiastic German boy I've ever met.
Him: Today. I did nothing. What would you call this? To do nothing?For the rest of the day he would tell people to "ask me what I did today" so that he could test out the expression. I've no doubt he will very quickly be completely fluent in English slang.
Me: Well, I guess I would call it vegging.
Him: Vegging. What is this vegging?
Me: To be like a vegetable. To sit around doing nothing.
Him: AHA! (Complete with spirit fingers type hand gesture) I will use this, vegging.
And wouldn't you believe as soon as I ran into him I was prompted to ask him what he did today. As we were nearly finishing a fairly long leg of our journey and running low on enthusiasm he was a very obvious contrast to us, just starting his and completely topped up with excitement. Oh, to be young again ;)
I had really been looking forward to Coff's Harbour ever since we met up with another friend of ours in Bowen. It was there I learned that you could jump off the pier and they wouldn't even arrest you. I've always wanted to do this in California but the beach patrol is a pretty serious group so I never dared.
Once I was up on the railing and looking down I kept thinking, "It's only 7-8 meters just jump on 3. OK, 1, 2, 3.... on five. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.... on twelve. Finally, I did it, and again and again. I wanted to do it head first until I thought of everything that could go wrong then I just jumped again. It was a great rush that I've never felt on any ride or abseil or anything.
In General, Byron Bay.
After reading and hearing so many things about how interesting and culturally rich this stop was, we were disappointed to find it full of both overpriced tourist gimmicks and people too stoned to move. We did appreciate the beautiful view offered at the Most Easterly Point of Australia, but this was a half day activity at best. With no better to-do ideas then "get high, get naked, and join the drum circle," two nights in Byron proved more than enough.
Maybe it was our hostel but I really feel like the whole town was full of the worst kind of dirty hippies. I later had a discussion with someone who said Byron Bay is an alternate reality and I certainly agree.
Our hostel in Sydney
When we couldn't book again at the Blue Parrot because of a three night minimum policy, we went with the cheapest beds we could find. This was a mistake. An overnight bus from Coff's Harbour brought us into Sydney around 10:00 am, two hours early for check-in. When an early check-in couldn't be accommodated we skeptically left our bags (minus valuables) in the easily accessed broom closet provided for storage and went for a walk. It turns out, being a short-staffed mega-hostel, they were running behind, so two more walks, lunch, and five hours later, it was time to check-in. Wanting very little to do with the kitchen four floors away or the half-dressed, half-drunk, but fully made-up girls we met in the hallway, we opted for a dinner out. Thank goodness for good Indian food or I might have left Sydney with a bad taste in my mouth.
Don't stay at D*lux in Kings Cross. It's full of backpackers who have found a job and opted for a long term arrangement at minimal cost while sacrificing personal space. Also, it is gross.
Please can we skip the next 36 hours of traveling (Sydney - Beijing - Vancouver), Thank Goodness for earplugs and face-masks, Hell-OH CANADA!