It took us an amazing amount of time to drive the 2-hour drive from Sydney to Newcastle. Manoeuvring Franny is no small feat! She’s a wee bit temperamental and hates going up hills.
When we pulled up to Jacko’s (Christie’s friend’s) house, we were greeted by a huge amount of pointing and laughing by Jacko and all of his mates. We looked so ridiculous in our huge fluorescent green campervan pulling up to this house full of labourers. Jacko and all of his friends were really lovely and made us feel very welcome. We had a few drinks that evening but passed out by 10pm. Jacko was working the night shift so Christie and I got to sleep in his bed while the other two braved Franny for the first night.
Jacko’s house was an interesting experience, they had huge decks and speakers but failed to have a kitchen table. Instead, they had a pingpong table with various Disney characters on different drugs drawn across it. I can’t say it the life I’d particularly want to lead but they can surf and skate and host parties (I guess not dinner parties) so I guess that counts for something.
The next day Jacko took us on his world famous tour of Newcastle. Even though I can’t say I felt 100% safe in his car as we spun around the corners of the small and one way streets, he did manage to give us quite a comprehensive tour. He took us to a natural swimming pool created by the waves crashing over rock edge called the Bogey Hole, after that he gave us a quick wizz around the city and the port in the car. Following that, we lay on Newcastle beach for an hour or so but it wasn’t very sunny so it was wishful thinking, to say the least. Our final stop on the tour was to Blackbutt reserve to see some birds and koalas! Jacko nearly got nipped by a bird as he tried to coheres it onto his hand. We had lunch at a nice spot called The Edwards, I had the brisket sandwich and it was just what the doctor ordered. That evening ended up quite funny when we all started getting on the beers quite early and a load ion Jackos friends came round. Even though it was quite a large night we started drinking at lunchtime so by 10 we were knackered! All of us apart from Christie slept in the van, I slept on the top bed and it was very claustrophobic. It’s so dark that you feel so disorientated!
The next morning we left quite early and headed to Coffs Harbour.
The Bogey Hole and the walkway to Newcastle Beach
We chose to stay at Coffs Harbour purely because it was on the way to Byron Bay. We stopped off at a stunning little spot called Seal Rocks. This small secluded beach was so lovely and we really wished we could have camped here but we needed to get further up the coast. By the time we got to Coffs Harbour, it was dark and we had no idea where to park Franny. We ended up sneaking into a camping ground without paying and managed to cook dinner, get the van set up and get ready for bed before we got kicked out. After that we ended up just parking on the street in the first free parking area we could find. It was an omen of what was to come – sleeping on the street like Gypsies!
When I awoke the next morning to see a man walking his dog outside, I promptly got the rest of the girls up and got out of there. We were literally outside someone’s house!
Christie drove us to the nearest Mcdonalds were we really did look like homeless people as we all piled in to brush our teeth and have baby wipe showers in the loos. Once we were as clean as we’d ever been, we jumped back in Franny and headed up to Byron Bay.
While in Byron we stayed at a hostel called The Arts Factory (this is where the Inbetweeners stayed in their second movie!). This hostel is really stoner-hippie vibe which really isn’t us at all. Even though we stayed in their car park for 3 nights we managed to only pay for 2 nights and only for 2 people! Now, this hostel was super cool and we were the opposite of it with Franny! When we drove in we saw all these cool campers with people who had been living there for months and we rock up in our bright green van with the slogan ‘The glass is half full and the other half was delicious!’ Written on the side. Safe to say I was very glad Christie was the one in the driver’s seat.
Peace and love dude
After getting set up at the hostel we went to the beach for a couple of hours, we were so desperate to get a tan! Although it wasn’t super hot we did get to see some dolphins! There was a load of surfers who panicked at the sight of a fin but it turned out to be some friendly dolphins only 20m out and not terrifying Great Whites. That evening we had some goon in the hostel but called it quite early – I don’t know what it is about Fran but we are knackered by 10pm every night.
The next morning Christie and Riss went to get their hair done (god we are so terrible at being backpackers) while Gabby and I tried to get some beach time in. I think we were on the beach for about 40minutes before it started to rain! We ended up just chilling in Fran for the rest of the afternoon – there really isn’t much to do in Byron when it’s raining and you have no money.
When the others were back we had some goon and made sushi in the hostel, people were very impressed with the sushi gun Christie’s family had left us to use!
On our last full day in Byron, we woke up super early to go and see the lighthouse at sunrise. Of course, it was bloody cloudy and cold! Even though we didn’t get to see the full sunrise we got some nice photos so it wasn’t a complete waste of time. The rest of the day was spent on the beach, living for the short, cloudless moments.
That evening we went to Miss Margarita for dinner & drinks which was such a treat! After that, we went to a bar called The Rails. We had a bag of goon in Christie’s grotty sack so just bought 1 bottle between us and then filled it up each time! God, we are cheap. The bar had live music and we played pool. Gabby and Riss went home at 9 because they were so drunk – how funny.
Miss Margarita herself
After the other two had bailed, Christie and I headed to a bar called The Northern. We were so tired so we wanted a shot to pick us up, however, because of the stupid drinking laws in Byron they cant sell shots. What we had to end up getting was a shot of jäger with a whole can of Red Bull. We had 2 each! We then went to both the clubs we’d been recommended in Bryon – Cheeky Monkeys for shit tunes and the supposedly edgy one called Woody’s. Both of them were pretty terrible if I’m honest but we had a good laugh anyway! On the way home, we got pizza and Christie nearly got into a fight with some guy at the pizza place! I then fell on the way home and completely fucked up my elbow – some hippies also pointed and laughed at me which I thought was a bit mean.
By the time Sunday morning rolled around we were very ready to get out of the Arts Factory. So many people say that Byron is their favourite place on the East Coast and I’d imagine if the weather had been better we would have loved it too, but it was just a bit too stoner/hippie for us (especially in the rain!). We left the hostel (and we got away with only paying for 2 people for 1 night so pretty good seeing as 4 of us stayed for 3) and went to Wategos beach, another beach in Byron near the lighthouse. It was such a nice secluded beach but obviously, after 10 minutes of attempted tanning, it started to rain!
Next, we drove to probably the most stunning beach I have been to in my entire life called Wooyoung. We arrived and we were the only people on the beach which stretched for miles in either direction. It was covered in fine white sand and about 20m out there must have been a huge dip in the sea floor as it created almost a pool of shallow flat water at the front and then just behind were roaring huge waves. We could have stayed there all day – we had lunch on our camping chairs and tables on the beach but then guess what? It started to rain!!
By this point I had admitted defeat – I refuse to sit on a beach in the rain no matter how beautiful it is! We packed up Fran again and decided to head inland an hour to the famous weed capital of Australia – Nimbin.
Now Nimbin is a bizarre little town in the hills of Eastern Queensland. The whole place boasts a strong aroma of weed 24/7 with many hemp and smoke shops. We wandered around for an hour or so but that’s really all you need. It’s tiny and we looked so out of place! There we groups of people meditating in the small park in the centre and a few ‘legalise weed!’, ‘peace and love!’ floating around. Naturally, it started to rain again so we decided it was time to head further North in search of the sun – Next stop the Gold Coast.