• Josh Garman

Welcome To Byron Bay

In my last blog I talked about my time in farm work over 2 months living and picking fruit everyday. I had got fed up of making no money and it was time for me to leave. A friend of mine Anja was leaving at the same time and together we began a road trip down the east coast of Australia towards Byron Bay!

Welcome To Byron Bay
Welcome To Byron Bay

Leaving the hostel in the middle of the day we packed up everything we had lived with for the past couple months. I was most proud of my cooking supplies which had grown over my time here. I had lived off backpacker food for a long time up to this point and having a few knifes, my own set of plates and bowls along with herbs and spices really jazzed my meals up moving me on from just surviving. Anja had far less belongings than I had, not having a camper to store things in and we set off on the road. The first stop the Gold Coast!

I always had a mixture of emotions in the Gold Coast which to me felt like the Miami of Australia. It was far too commercial and touristy but I met some great people here and of course I could stay with my family which made a massive difference. Although I had been a bit of a nightmare house guest previously my uncle and auntie still welcome me round to stay for a couple nights. Anja and I used this time to explore a bit and visited many of the bars that line surfers paradise. On our first night we drank late into the night meeting an awesome Canadian bartender, exchanging stories and by morning had a huge fry up by the water to recover.

We celebrated our new freedom away from the monotony and inner circle drama that farm work gave us. From the Gold Coast we pushed on heading straight for Byron Bay. Here we met up with two other friends from farm work Cille and Carla. We all shared a 4 person dorm together and would do everything with each other. I can't remember how long I stayed here but it was a decent amount of time growing accustomed to my new location. We could cook food together, play cards by the poolside, sunbathe or surf on the beach and explore Byron's exciting nightlife.

It was a small trendy seaside town with lots of character and alternative shops. I was shaped heavily by the people around at the time meeting some great characters. I got into some new music too. Sticky Fingers and Ocean Alley became my new favourite aussie artists and the vibe fit perfectly with my new surroundings. There were many highlights to my time in Byron Bay both inside and outside of the hostel. I never regretted a day spent at the hostel or the many nights talking to new people. These interactions and conversations changed me rapidly, opening my eyes to so much. Each stranger had something of value to bring, whether it be stories of travel, hidden skills or advice on life. Every person I met had something new to offer!

Most of all my time spent with Anja, Cille and Carla are the moments I remember. We had countless conversations over card games and after a night drinking could return to the hostel to watch films together while we sobered up. When we fancied doing something more adventurous or finding a spot to watch the sun setting over the ocean I would get in the camper to drive, Anja would sit beside me and the other two would jumped into the back and hide under the duvet so they couldn't be seen. We drove round to many spots including the famous lighthouse and a water tower covered in graffiti, a great spot for sunsets!

The lighthouse became a go to spot of mine, taking a long walk from the hostel up a steep winding hill to the base of it. You could see the ocean all around with incredible views and could look on the horizon in hopes of spotting whales. When the sun set I was reminded just how lucky I was to be in such a beautiful place and could walk back to the hostel with renewed enthusiasm for the world. I loved my time in Byron and feel like it shaped me into a more relaxed character at the time, allowing me to let things go.

Anja was coming to the end of her time in Australia and it was time for her to head home so I offered to drive her to the airport in Brisbane. From here I would make my way to a new spot and try my luck. Money running low once more. Just before we left I wanted to squeeze one more thing in that I had heard about here. Talking with a guy I had just met over breakfast on an outside table I learned that he had a boat and took groups snorkelling out on Julian Rocks. He asked if I wanted to go and I quickly accepted his offer without knowing anything about the place.

Later that day I was on a boat with borrowed snorkelling gear as we sped along to the rocks.

The Julian Rocks Nguthungulli Nature Reserve is a protected nature reserve that is located on the Julian Rocks in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales, in Australia. The 4,047-hectare (10,000-acre) reserve comprise two small islands, situated approximately 2.5 kilometres off the coast of Byron Bay. - Wikipedia

Coming up to the rocks I put my go pro on a jumped in ready to explore another underwater landscape! I hadn't done much snorkelling or diving since Moreton Island so it felt great being in the water again, I had no wetsuit tho so was freezing. As I struggled getting my mask cleared and go pro set up I almost missed a magical moment. There was commotion as everyone looked down in the waters below. I peered underwater to see a turtle gliding through the waters and coming to the surface to breathe. I could never get tired of sea turtles I thought.

I had a wonderful time here exploring the corals, fish and the occasional nurse shark or wobbegong. It was all over too soon and on the return journey we looked for whales but it would appear that we had arrived too late in the season. The whale's migration over. I took Anja to the station and said a fond farewell, sad to see her go. I was getting used to this way of life but it was hard sometimes. Meeting lots of new people but never knowing them for long before it was time to move on again. Once back in my van I put on some Ocean Alley and off I went in search of the next adventure!

In my next blog I head to Noosa in hopes of finding some work. My money is running low again and without it I can't explore the way I hope to. I had heard about Noosa from some people here in Byron and it sounded like a place I couldn't miss!

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