Lennox Head, Australia
Bedtime brings us to yet another sleeping location… Tonight we’ll stay in the guest room at our friend Holly’s Aunt’s home in Lennox Head, where we arrived this morning.
We crossed the border into New South Wales for the second time in two days, driving south from Brisbane towards Byron Bay this morning. Tawney read out loud from a book called “vagabonding” as we drove the long stretch of gorgeous highway that connects Queensland to the more southerly home of Sydney. “Vagabonding” is basically a “how to” book on how to do exactly what we are doing…
A guide to living life the way we are currently living it.
Planning to travel without a plan and taking each moment as it comes.”On the road, you learn to improvise your days, take a second look at everything you see, and not obsess over your schedule”
We woke up yesterday in Brunswick Heads – a small beach town just north of Byron. The sign coming into town read “simple pleasures” and the town itself was humble and sweet – clearly not claiming to be anything other then what it was. Just mellow.
We pulled into a camping site – – and were helped by a lovely man named Dean who made us feel totally at home, setting us up in plot 129 next to the river, and showing us where the nearest amenities were.
We pitched a tent as night fell and rain started sprinkling down among fellow campers, caravanners, and the various permanent residents who had built their mobile homes into the earth here… Thanks to Traveller Auto Barn – we had everything we needed except a pillow and blanket (the downfall of us never making plans). The trunk of our station wagon came equip with a cooler (or eskie as aussies say) – forks, knives, cutting board, can opener, chairs, nice sized two person tent, small mat, and grill…
We left the site and wandered down to the pub (as suggested by Dean) and found a live band playing and really great food served to a crowd of smiling people. After a few glasses of wine and use of the free wifi that we utilized to upload photos on Facebook and recount stories of the last wild week to our friends and family – we wandered back down into the campsite just as it started pouring rain.
Getting back in the car to change clothes and get ready to sleep, Tawney rolled her passenger side seat back just to see how flat it went and to our pleasant surprise, it went totally flat and was extremely comfortable – so instead of braving the rain and sleeping in the tent with no blankets, we just lay back in our side by side chairs and slept in the car. Maybe it was the melatonin we took before we put on our sleep mix and hit the lights, but we slept super soundly and woke up to a glorious morning… A string of Tibetan prayer flags billowed lightly next to the glassy lake while kukaberas giggled in the bright purple trees that dotted the landscape.
The noises of “silence” here remind me of being in Indonesia – which is just the next country up above Australia… The chirps and squeaks from the jungles and forests sing an anthem of humid tropical life and I swear you can almost hear the trees breathing just as deeply as you are, drinking in the soft, clean air.
After a quick stretch, teeth brush and hula hoop – we grabbed a coffee in town and then pulled out from Brunswick Heads – back onto the highway towards Byron Bay.
Byron is a place that Tawney and I have repeatedly heard since the day either of us decided to even come to Australia, “You are gonna LOVE it!” people say to me like a broken record. “You were MADE for Byron.” “You’re gonna get stuck there and never want to come home.”
There was a lot of hype to say the least.
As we cruised down the street that would take us back to the M1 Highway and towards our alleged home away from home – we spotted a hitchhiker dressed in a hot pink full-body jumpsuit and cowboy hat. Needless to say we slammed the breaks and picked him up.
With rings on every finger, a strand of pearls around his neck and a handle bar mustache, this amazing 60+ year old man told us his name was Shanti. He was a life coach who had lived in a one man tent for 4 years and had some interesting perspective that he shared with us before the Byron Bay Roundabout where we let him off and told him we loved him.
Of course we did. This is par for the course in our lives i think.
We cruised down into Byron, immediately parked and dove in the ocean for the first time since arriving in Australia. The weather had been a little lame, so it wasn’t too blue and sunny, but the water was still soft and clean and beautiful and felt like heaven to float in… We watched a long, tiny right hand wave break off the point near the lighthouse and roll along as a long boarder cruised above. Tawney loves to surf and hasn’t had the opportunity all year, since she came down with a a staph infection. We dragged ourselves out of the water and walked along the sand back towards the downtown area of Byron.
Arriving at the beach bar, we quickly realized that it was Saint Patricks Day and Saturday – and the energy was very “frat boy”… Lots of big green St. Patty Day hats and beer chugging. Throughout the day and into the night, people seemed to get more and more drunk and obnoxious around the town.
We totally escaped that energy and instead went to meet some Goddesses I met last year in India at a little organic, vegan restaurant called “Conscious Cafe” where a bevy of beautiful women sat around a table bathing in the post Kundalini yoga class euphoria waiting peacefully for their “Tree of Life” plate to be served. We sipped our rice milk coffees and caught up. As the hours rolled on, one at a time, the women excused themselves until it was just Tawney, myself, and a woman named Yvonne who sold essential oils and made herself concerned by the state of my spider bite. She gave us a ride back to our car so we didn’t have to walk in the tropical rain (which I don’t mind too much when its warm but wouldn’t pass up a ride) and we made plans to meet again for coffee at 5, which we ended up totally missing out on because we live in the now and time and planning escaped us sometimes.
We parked up and wandered through an artisan fair by the train tracks – oohing and ahhing over antique spoons that had been shaped into rings and then cut out in the shape of trees, huge chunks of amethyst and shirts made of nets. A holistic chiropractor offered us a room to stay within 5 minutes of meeting us, but upon re-entering the 8pm streets of a Saint Patricks Day Saturday night, we decided that we had no desire to stay in Byron… So, back in the Travellers Auto Barn shaggin wagon, we headed back North towards Brisbane.
Our friends were playing one last show on their Australian tour and Brisbane seemed like just as good a spot as any to sleep. The plan was to go meet our friends – catch their show (which would be our fourth time – but they are amazing so it was beyond worth it) – party with them – find a hotel – and then head further north up to the Great Barrier Reef in the morning.
This is how we make our plans – and I feel, it’s the only way to go.
We flip a coin, or weigh a couple options, set coordinates and head that way… There is no guarantee that we will stay on that track and no attachment to what is at the end of the road, because invariably something incredible will pop up from behind a eucalyptus tree and the course the plans will change again.
This is LIFE!
We got to the Tivoli theatre and had pretty much missed the whole show, but went up into the green room afterwards and drank and laughed… Passed around a guitar and watched the guys play air instruments too close to their bodies while making funny ‘stink faces’. Once the theatre was packed up, we all piled in the van and headed back to the hotel for the “college party”. We set the vibe in a room, dimmed the lamps, put a light-show on the ceiling, and broke out the bottles of wine and proseco until 4am. A toast was made “to an amazing tour” … “which you guys have basically joined now”, someone threw in. *insert embarrassing Almost Famous quote*
In the morning (well… late afternoon) – we woke up in our hotel and decided once again – on a whim, that driving 7 hours north wasn’t worth it. Although we know the Great Barrier Reef is without a doubt incredible, life changing and definitely worth the journey up there… we felt that we would be back in Australia again one day – and maybe next time we would have more money… so we could fly into Cairns and actually afford to take a boat out to the reef and snorkel properly. It just seemed like doing the Great Barrier Reef on our budget was a little silly.
I suggested that I get married up there, since I would love to have a destination wedding and it could be a perfect excuse to splash the cash on that adventure. We agreed on that idea and with the flip of a coin were heading back down South across the New South Wales border and towards Lennox Head, where our friend Holly was. Holly was a guest on the island where I worked as yoga instructor and masseuse last year. She had been in Bali and decided on a whim to come to the Mentawais to see an old friend. We became close quickly and have stayed in touch over the last year. She came out with us in Brisbane when we first arrived.. Our friends put her and her sister, who has been going through chemotherapy and hadn’t been out in ages, on the list for the show which was our reasoning for going a third time. It felt like such a special gift to be able to share a night out with her and her amazing sister.
Now they were both back in Lennox Head at their Auntie’s house where we arrived just two short hours later.
First things first – gotta find a guy to marry in the Great Barrier Reef… Next item on the agenda is to make it stop raining so we can go surf… and then the plan is to live without a plan and see what happens.
We have friends scattered all up and down this gorgeous coastline so we will just take it as it comes and go where the wind (and our shaggin wagon) takes us next.
So far – here are a couple OZ traveling tips/suggestions:
Jetstar.com.au – book cheap flights within Australia – So far i’ve flown Sydney-Melbourne, Melbourne-Sydney, Sydney-Brisbane… cheap & easy.
Travellers Auto Barn – rent a camper or station wagon fully equip with everything you need to cruise around Australia and camp/sleep in the car if you need to
Woolworths/Green Grocers! – buy your food at the grocery store! Eating out in OZ is totally beyond outrageous – I’m talking $18 fruit salads (and thats Australian Dollars!) – another reason why having a cooler in the car is clutch.
Bring non-flip flops with you cuz it turns out that venues and bars won’t let you in if you are wearing flip fops (unless you can really really bat those eyelashes and name drop like mad)