We started our week in Byron Bay with a walking tour of the peninsula and lighthouse organized by our hostel. Along the walk we saw a small tree snake, a bearded dragon lizard, turtles in the water below, and a couple dolphins jumping in the breaking waves. We also visited the point of land that is the easternmost point in Australia.
The next day was Valentine’s Day and what could be more romantic than a bike ride on a warm summer’s day? We rode south of town along a nice trail past a marsh and to a beach. We walked along the beach for a while and saw some pretty blue jelly fish washed up on the sand. We also saw a few spots where small balls of sand had been arranged on the beach. We later learned they are created by sand bubbler crabs. See below for a video of them in action.
A couple days later we paid to join a snorkeling trip to the Julian Rocks which are a couple kilometers offshore from Byron Bay. It’s supposed to be one of the best snorkeling locations in Australia and it sure didn’t disappoint. Even though the sea was a little rough, the fish and coral underwater were beautiful. As soon as I put my mask underwater, I could see a ton of colorful fish swimming around me. I had a real sense of disbelief at what I was seeing. I’d lift my mask above the surface and there’s the same seemingly empty surface of the water, but lower my face a couple inches and suddenly there’s a bunch of fish around me. We saw lots of different creatures, including leopard sharks, a stingray, pufferfish, bright blue damselfish, a few small squid, and even a couple sea turtles! I was disappointed when our hour was up. I’m definitely looking forward to more snorkeling on our trip.
Other highlights of the week include going to the beach nearly every day, either for a swim, to ride a body board, or just for a walk at sunset. Some days we lounged by the pool or went for a bike ride on the hostel’s free bikes. It was a hot week with a few scattered rain showers some days, and we were glad to have the beach and pool close by. The air conditioning in our room was also much appreciated.
At the end of the week we decided to ship our camping gear back home since we had only used it a couple times in Australia. Southeast Asia is supposed to be a cheap place for indoor lodging, so we probably won’t camp at all while there. We’re not sure about Europe, but we’ll probably travel by train and stay in hostels most of the time, just like we have here in Australia.
Our plan from here was to take a bus to Brisbane, then a train from Brisbane to Airlie Beach in northern Queensland. In Airlie Beach we’ll spend a few days on a sailboat going around the Whitsunday Islands. Unfortunately, Cyclone Marcia is heading toward the Queensland coast between Brisbane and Airlie Beach. I got an email that our train out of Brisbane was cancelled so we’re not sure how we’ll get to Airlie Beach. We have a few days to get there, but we’ll have to see how this storm affects travel up the road.