We arrived to the second leg of our journey: Sydney, Australia. The day we landed was the coldest November weather on record since since 1905. Great. But things have turned around and now the weather and waves are on our side. We started off at Bondi Beach just a short bus ride from downtown. Other than having the beach right outside your door, Bondi isn’t the nicest place to stay, but downtownSydney is absolutely glorious. It’s built on the water and the Botanical Gardens and Harbour Bridge are magnificent. We even went to the world famous Opera house to see a symphony called Russian Fire and Fury (we are so trashy that we left at intermission). We had one morning of decent surf in Bondi (big surprise, the rest of the time it was blown out) which was fun but crowded – after all it was a Saturday.
However, our surf adventure began looking up as we headed north to Avalon, a suburb about an hour outside of Sydney. I want to move to Avalon some day. It was one of the best places I have ever been. There is the ocean side for surfing and a bay side for boating. It is a very high end little town filled with quaint but expensive (or “exie” as our host Janice called them) shops and restaurants. Apparently Kelly Slater has a home there – even better! We got some small but great surf in Avalon and were feeling like our surf adventure was beginning to turn around.
We headed up the coast and forget about surfing, the Billabong Koala and Wildlife Park is where it’s at. You get to see and even pet koala bears and kangaroos. It was one of the coolest things ever, so cool in fact that the three of us pushed small kids out of our way to get a chance to pet Chancy (see photo). We continued up the coast only to be disappointed by blown out waves in Crescent Head but consoled ourselves by eating more meat pies from a roadside attraction called Fredo’s.
Finally, we reached Byron Bay. I love Byro nBay. There are two sides as Byron juts out into the ocean so that you have two chances of getting offshore winds. We stayed at the Seaview House, an amazing B&B with glorious views, and surfed Tallow Beach. The hot Aussie boys were almost as much of an attraction as the beautiful pods of dolphins swimming by. Other than the “schoolies” who were in town for their version of spring break, Byron Bay was everything we had been looking for in Australia.
On our final night in Byron Bay we went out for an amazing seafood dinner and followed it up with drinks and music at a place called the Beach Hotel. We caught the last song of some mediocre reggae band before it was the next band’s turn. Out walk four young women in the worst outfits we had ever seen (trust me, they were that bad — think plaid and flower patterns) we were horrified until we heard them sing. The group began to sing a cappella. They had the most beautiful voices I had ever heard. When they broke into Bob Marley’s STIR IT UP with just their voices I thought the schoolies were going to turn on them, but instead they came out if full force and were dancing like crazy. One of the girls started beat boxing (mind you they were all white girls in old-school Jessica McLintock flowered dresses). It was totally surreal, but so great that we bought their CD.
The next day was our final one in Australia and our sadness in leaving was only relieved by the fact that our next stop was Fiji. We drove through the Gold Coast (stupidly we didn’t leave ourselves enough time to surf any of the most stellar surf spots on the planet), and hit the Brisbane airport with literally minutes to go until our plane took off. You can bet I will be back soon – after all, I have to visit Chancy.
Wish you were here,