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Archive for November, 2008

When Mozzies Attack!

After spending the day chilling in Yamba we went for a walk by the beach around sunset.  All was good until we decided to walk back by the lighthouse.  All of a sudden I felt something on my leg so I looked down and saw a fly on me.  No dramas (as they say over here).  Then I felt a second one and so took a closer look and realised the little fella was a massive mozzie quite happily tucking into me!  I turn to Ruth to say and she’s surrounded by them, then I realise I am too – not good.

The little buggers have quite a nip on them and I ended up slapping quite a few only to find out that they can take quite a bit of blood for their size.  We started running but they kept up.  We managed to get about 200 metres away before the swarm left us alone but I still had a load on me.  Ruth had to wipe over 20 off my back.  We were glad to get out of there.

As we were running we passed a couple of people who were laughing at us.  They didn’t laugh for long as they walked straight into the ones that were following us and got attacked too.  I call that karma.

On the short walk my feet start itching, I look down and they had started swelling and I had several white lumps about the size of a 2p coin where I’d been bitten.  Then the ones on my arms started coming up.  We got back to the hostel and I took some antihistamine.  This seemed to slow things down after a while but then my neck, hips and arms started coming up all red and bubbly.  After a few minutes Ruth took a look and decided to call the Drs at the local hospital who asked for me to come in.  Luckily Justin and Kelly (2 of the hostel owners) took us to the hospital in Maclean (a Scottish town!) about 20 mins away where they dosed me up on some steroids and seriously strong antihistamine.  Apparently I had mild anaphylactic shock which, I’ve now discovered first hand, isn’t nice. 

The swelling took about a week to go down, much to the Aussies amusement, and the bites about 2 weeks.  Since then the hostel sell mozzie repellent!  According to the locals the mozzies are known as Scotch Greys.  They were about 3 or 4 times the size of the normal mozzies, which normally don’t give us much of a problem, and quite vicious.  They aren’t normally around but we had a warm wind that day that must have brought them in as a few other people had seen them on around Yamba on the same day.  Hopefully we won’t see them again.

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Wow, it’s been (just over) a month already!  We feel like we’ve seen loads but when you look at a map we’ve hardly been anywhere.  It’s been great to be out here but it does feel odd walking around in t-shirt & shorts in November and December.  Got lots more exciting stuff planned and we’ll do a catch up on the blog soon to let you know what we’ve been up to recently.

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Whilst on our Angourie point tour we visited the fresh water pools [Google link].  Just back from the beach there is a green pool and blue pool. They are very deep, warm and teaming with fish. Justin was explaining to us that when they were children they would climb up the cliff and jump into the pool. He got very excited reminiscing and decided that, despite wearing his work uniform (t-shirt and shorts), he wanted to do the jump and asked if we were game.

We decided to go for it and dived into the pool. We swam to the other side and then climbed up the cliff to a small ledge. The climb was slightly tricky especially with wet feet (about a grade diff – for those in the know) but if you fell off it would be into water. Once at the ledge the only thing you can do is run and jump….

Justin went first. We took a bit longer to build up the courage. I went second and Jo went last. As I jumped my stomache filled with dread and you had enough time to think “What have I just done?!” before you hit the water. It was about a three second drop. When Jo jumped his moment of dread happened just as he was pushing off which meant that he hesitated and didn’t jump as far out! It was still plenty to clear the rocks though.

There was a higher ledge but none of us fancied that! At the other pool is a much smaller jump that we also did. This time it was me that worried everyone. When I jumped I was under the water for a while before I resurfaced and Jo started to wonder what was going on. I later explained that my bikini came loose when I hit the water and had to stay under to sort things out!

Shane (one of the hostel owneers) at the blue pool

Shane (one of the hostel owners) at the blue pool

Both jumps were a big adrenaline rush and had us buzzing all day.

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A few kilometres along the coast from Yamba is a place called Angourie point. It is world famous for its surf break as it reportidly has a gnarley barrel over rocks and has been the training ground for many famous surfers.

One day we managed to blag a lift up there with one of the hostel owners (Justin). He gave us a tour of the area and showed us some of the expensive houses (the guy who created Billabong has a house here), the pools and then the point. The point consists of two beaches, the point itself which is where the big barrels come in and has an impressive reef break, then round the point is Back beach.

Angourie Point

Angourie Point

We didn’t have surf board with us so we went to Back beach. This beach has been our favourite beach in Oz so far. It is a long sandy beach which curves around meeting a point at either end. At the back of the beach is a sandstone cliff which provided perfect shade during the mid day sun. The water is very clear and the surf is still very good but a lot safer. 

We stayed on the beach for a few hours, had lunch and went for a swim / body surf. The water was lovely and you could see the fish swimming past you as you surfed in. It was awesome and so beautiful.  We both want to go back and Jo wants to check out Angourie on a big day.

Angourie Back Beach

Angourie Back Beach

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Yamba

Yamba is a small fishing village on the coast between Byron Bay and Coffs Harbour. It is situated between 6 beaches a river and a rainforest. It is a sleepy village with a small population except in summer when the population triples because of the tourists.

The village does not have much in it, several cafes, a post office, a sprinkling of shops (mostly surf or fishing), a small cinema, a brand new YHA and a pub. When in the middle of the town you can head in almost any direction and you will eventually find a beach. The nearest beach is about a five minute walk away. The best beaches for surfing are Pippi beach, Back beach and Angourie beach. In the middle of town is a big hill which you must walk up to get to the pub.  Getting home is nice and easy – it’s downhill all the way!

The YHA opened in November and so we were one of the first people to stay there. It holds 92 people and looks very new, clean and hotel like. It is run by a lovely family, two brothers their wives and their parents. The family add all the character the hostel needs and are lots of fun. The hostel has a roof terrace, BBQ and spa pool. Downstairs is a cafe open to the public which is always busy with locals.

At the edge of Yamba is a small harbour which runs into the river. We discovered this is a good place to watch the dolphins as they come into the river mouth to feed and you can stand on the breakwater to watch them. On the other side of the river is the national park rainforest of Iluka but we didn’t get a chance to do that.

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Hang Gliding

Whilst in Lennox head we saw people hang gliding off of Lennox head. We were watching them for a while and thought that it looked like fun. On the way back we saw them packing up their stuff and got chatting. Jo was very interested as he has wanted to go hang gliding for a while. We found out that we could have a special rate as we were staying at the YHA as the owner and the instructor had a deal.
The next day Jo decided to take the plunge and I decided to go be the paparazzi. On the way there the instructor offered us an even better deal if we both went. It was too good a deal to say no so decided to take the plunge too.
Jo went up first. It was a tandem hang glide so the instructor went through everything with us and made sure we were happy before we went. To take off you stand behind the instructor and you both run straight off the cliff (whilst attached to the hang glider – Jo). It was actually not as scary as it sounds. Once in the air you have to wiggle your way next to the instructor so you can see what is going on.
Jo was in the air for about 30 mins and was circling over the cliff, sea, town and beach. Whilst up there he spotted a few birds of prey and flew straight over them. He also felt the air current being affected by another hang glider and said it was just like the wash of a boat in the sea when they go past. He had a go at steering the hang glider. The view was spectacular. The instructor explained some of the cloud formations in the distance and informed us that a big storm was coming that evening. Eventually he landed smoothly back down.
Jo hang gliding over Lennox Head

Jo hang gliding over Lennox Head

I went up next and did a similar thing. We spent a bit more time over the ocean as we were watching the stingrays in the sea. To teach me to steer we had a game of chicken with the cars on the road using the shadow. I had to get into position and wait for a gap in the traffic then manoeuver the hang glider shadow over to the other side of the road without getting squished. I just made it, it was really good fun. The scary bit was swooping down next to the cliff face as it suddenly gets very close. Again the landing went without a hitch.
Ruth ready to take the plunge hang gliding

Ruth ready to take the plunge hang gliding

It was a brilliant experience. I would recommend it to anyone. The views are amazing and the feeling of being that free in the air was awesome especially when you are steering it.

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Our First Koala

On the way back from our Duck Billed Platypus tour we spotted our first Koala having a snooze in the tree! Here he is…

Koala
Koala

We were informed by our guide that he was a large male. He didn’t do much except snooze, Jo wonders if I was a Koala in a previous life!

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