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Archive for the ‘Byron Bay’ Category

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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Byron Bay has several breaks to surf.  From Belongil, through to the Wreck (I can’t remember the name of the boat) on Main beach and the mellow Clarkes beach to The Pass point break which is the favoured spot for the locals.  Around the corner is Tallow beach but we already talked about that!

The rip along the whole beach front is amazingly strong, Ruth and I have never known anything like it.  It drags you along the beach and diagonally out to sea, even standing still in the shallows can be difficult.  The waves along the front also tend to be quite dumpy but deceivingly powerful.  One day Ruth and I went body surfing and out of nowhere a much more powerful set came in that took us towards the shore before pounding us down in the shallows.  I got rag-dolled at one point and even spun round underwater so that I could see the underwater barrel – it was beautiful.

On one of the days that we were there the surf was really pumping.  The waves were mounting up to 5-6 feet and were dumping really loudly.  The good surfers were still popping up on the waves but by the time they did a bottom turn they had a face full of wave and got knocked off!  We thought we’d leave the locals to it and took some bodyboards out instead to play on the slightly smaller waves which was fun but the rip got me whilst I was chilling out the back and I got taken down the beach.  I had to paddle in at a right angle to the rip which took me onto the Wreck break where most of the surfers were.  I managed to navigate my way through all the bodies trying to catch waves when I got sprung upon by one of the bigger waves and taken for one of the rides of my life.  I looked down as the wave formed and the bloke a couple of metres in front of me (who was just about to duck under the wave) was at least a metre and a half below me!  I paddled like crazy and managed to ride down the face of the wave before it dumped on me – all I could see was white water.  I held on for dear life and managed to ride the wave into the shallows with a big grin all over my face.  I got out and tried to carry on as though I had meant to catch the wave and jogged back up the beach to meet Ruth!  One scary-as-hell wave but a great ride!

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Evening and night time was probably my favourite time of day in Byron.  As the sun set, huge bats would swoop over head, flying from inland in the direction of the cape.  Quite often the bats would land in the trees around our hostels and we could watch them hanging and eating.  Nearly anywhere you go you could hear them chatting away (and sometimes fighting).

At night, the streets (away from the clubs) are nearly empty and really quiet.  It’s still warm enough to wear t-shirt and shorts but there is usually a nice breeze.  As you walk around you can hear lots of crickets and frogs in all the bushes.  There aren’t too many street lights and so Byron isn’t very bright.  This makes it quite relaxing to walk around and means the view you get of the stars from the nearly empty beach is amazing!  I’ve never seen so many bright stars and it is odd not recognising any of their shapes.  The only familiar constellation that we have spotted so far is an upside-down Orion.  The other amazing spectacle at night is the lighthouse.  Apparently it is the brightest in Oz and it is amazing to watch the beams sweep over the beach and bay.  Oddly soothing and I found myself watching it for ages.

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One day we decided to head down to Wategos beach, next to the Cape, and see if we could spot some dolphins as this is where they are usually sighted and we were becoming frustrated at not seeing any yet. It was a bit of a dull day and so were the only ones of the beach for most of it. We didn’t mind the cold and drizzle spells as we are obviously used to it!

We were on the beach for some time playing and relaxing when Ruth spotted something out to sea. After running to the water’s edge and grabbing the binos we saw that there were in fact three dolphins heading out to sea past us. We watched for a few minutes and then they were gone. We were only able to see their fins but they were clearly dolphins.
We continued our relax on the beach when we further treated to an unusual bird of prey swooping overhead. We turned around to see it land on a nearby tree and call to its juvie who was sat on a nearby tree the other side of us. They stayed there until we left and treated us every now an then to a flying display. We later learned that they were Ospreys. Whilst sitting watching the Osprey we were discussing how they were much smaller and browner they were than the red kite we had seen at Tallow. As the words were coming out of our mouths a red kite swooped in front of us and next to the Osprey so that we could compare them. They were magnificent beasts.

Osprey sitting in a tree at Wategos

Osprey sitting in a tree at Wategos

After the kite show we spotted a further two dolphin pods. This time armed and knowing what to look for we were able to see their tails and noses. They were beautiful. The second pod had about 8 Dolphins in and we were able to watch them for about 20 mins.

While this was going on, cormorants and other sea birds were diving into the sea and catching fish. It was a great day for wildlife.

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Tallow Beach

We needed to expand our job hunt so took the (unexpected) hour and half (our map lied) walk up to Suffolk Park in the midday sun. After a fruitless job search we headed to the beach. The beach next to Suffolk Park is Tallow beach which stretches all the way back to Cape Byron.

Cape Bryon from Tallow beach at sunset

Cape Bryon from Tallow beach at sunset

We arrived on the beach and went to cool off in the sea straight away but we could not go swimming as we could clearly see the the waves were too big and stormy. Tallow beach is known for having really strong currents and it is not patrolled. There were no lifeguards and no-one else was in the water so we weren’t risking it.

Whilst sat on the beach we were treated to exhibitions of how to remove sand from your home by the local beach crabs and flying displays from the Red Kites. After we had lapped up the beach and chilled for several hours we decided we should head back as we weren’t sure how long it would take. One hour later we were still walking up the beach!

Pelican at Tallow Creek

Pelican at Tallow Creek

We saw an inlet and thought that must be path back but we were pleasantly surprised to find a creek. The creek was lovely and was home to some Oyster Catchers, fish, a Crane and a Pelican. The Pelican was magnificent and we enjoyed watching it parade around warning the other birds off.

We eventually found the path off the beach and walked home quickly just in time for tea (mmmmmm, bread and salad).

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After one crazy night (drinking) we decided to have just 2 hours sleep and then head on up to the cape to watch the sunrise. We got up at 5am as the sun was due to rise at 5.50am. It was already light so we were worried that we were too late. We woke up our dorm mates (at their request) and all of us quickly walked the 45 mins up to the cape. We arrived at the lighthouse (a bit out of breath) just in time to see that sun breaking through the horizon. It was beautiful.

The sunrise from Cape Byron

The sunrise from Cape Byron

As Cape Byron in the most Easterly point of Australia it is the first place that you can see the sunrise. (The sun actually hits Mount Warning as that is the highest Easterly point.)

We stood at the lighthouse and watched it rise up out of the sea. The conditions were good. It was a clear day, visibility was great and it was hot by 6am.  The sunrise was a mixture of gorgeous pinks and yellows as you can see from the photo. The air was fresh and you could see across the sea for miles and miles. There were not many people around. A few brave soles who had also dragged themselves out of bed and some crazy runners. We watched it for about an hour and then strolled back to bed!

We were really pleased that we had done it as it truly was beautiful.

Us at sunrise

Us at sunrise

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On Wednesday Ruth and I went on a boat that took us out to Julian Rocks.  These rocks stick out of the sea a fair way out in the bay from Main beach.  It is one of the top ten places to snorkel and dive in Oz as they have a mixture of tropical warm water from the north and cold water from the south. For all you Finding Nemo fans this is due to the East Australian Current and means that the wildlife is very varied.  You could definately spot the fish which were warm water and which were cold water ones. The rocks are a mini reef with lots of coral and sponges and starfish on.

We got to snorkel around the rocks and saw loads of different fish including some massive ones that were nearly as long as me! We also got to see some small sharks (sleeping luckily) as well as swim with a turtle which was amazing. It was great to swim alongside such a graceful animal and really cool watching him come up for air. We spotted another one later on but it was having an afternoon nap against the rocks. Just before we swam back to the boat Ruth spotted a huge ray, which swam right underneath us. This thing was huge, at least 6 feet across. From looking at it and reading the books after, we think it might have been a stingray. If I’d known for sure at the time I’d have followed it humming the tune through my snorkel!

On the way back inland we spotted a Loggerhead turtle swimming along the surface, it was also quite big and an orangey colour. At this time of year you are supposed to be able to see the Humpback whales breaching as they migrate back south but we haven’t seen any yet. There are also regular dolphin spottings from Cape Byron so we are keeping our eyes peeled.  Apparently on the good surf days one of the pods often catches the waves with you (I’m trying not to get my hopes up too much though).

We took some pictures with our underwater camera so here’s hoping they come out. We will let you know as it is a film camera and we’ll have to go and get it processed.

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