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Matt & Mercaders - The World Tour

Noosa & Byron Bay

AUSTRALIA | Friday, 16 January 2009 | Views [9607]

Noosa was a nice place. We stayed in a good hostel near a typically huge beach and ate at a restaurant that had these incredible lamb and mint pizzas (see Travel Notes: Incredible Food). It was a great place to hang out and get some beach time – remember India hadn't delivered in this area and the weather in Port Douglas was a bit grey. Of all the places we went in Australia Noosa had the most appeal Chiswick-on-Sea.

Aside from walking the headland (this was a coastal path that went past small coves, limitless flora and fauna and, most excitingly, a nudist beach) our days were not particularly laden with activities. We did, however, take a trip to Australia Zoo – Steve Irwin's family zoo.

This is a real highlight – simply one of the best things to do in Australia. The zoo is so well set up that it doesn't feel like a typical zoo. The animal handlers walk around with various creatures for you to stroke, hold and learn about (Chloe again on hand to meet and greet). The kangaroo and koala enclosures are highlights.

In total we must have spent an hour with the kangaroos alone. There are loads of lizards milling about, just wandering around the visitors. The first time we saw one we assumed it had escaped. It turns out they're wild but the zoo is a cool place for them to hang out. They like it there. Imagine that at Chester Zoo – shall we agree on ten minutes before some kid has a got one in his hands trying to force feed it a Magnum?

So that was Australia Zoo and Noosa.

We moved on from there looking forward to Byron Bay as we'd heard so many positive things about it. The accommodation we booked was fantastic. It was a hell of a walk into town but worth it . It kind of reminded me of how Dad used to park ' miles out of Shrewsbury so we could get free parking. Talking of free, their breakfasts were amazing. I don't go in for muesli but I had this home made stuff everyday – I developed this love affair and got so into it I started throwing banana, honey and natural yoghurt in too. Took the raisins out obviously. Yep, I had a breakfast changing moment in that hostel.n Never before had I strayed from my staple: 3 cups of coffee and the sweeter offerings from Kellogg's.

If you look at Byron Bay on a map it bears a striking similarity to Noosa. Two great beaches with a national park headland in between. The towns couldn't be more different though. We struggled for decent affordable places to eat in Bryon Bay. You either went for the food that over the course of five days would kill you or the better options. So we alternated. On a positive note Chloe discovered that she does like sushi.

Whilst in Bryron Bay it is law to pay a visit to a town called Nimbin. It was a hotspot for hippies in the 60's and now, like a controlled experiment, you can go back and see how they turned out by visiting there little town. Most backpackers go there to buy weed – which is easy to achieve from the endless supply of crusty Nimbians who approach you as you get out of the minibus. Whilst in town we popped into the Museum of Marijuana (have you built a picture of Nimbin yet?) , and bought a chicken wrap that was awful I went on to supplement it with the worlds largest bowl of potato wedges.

The minibus driver had promised a tour if we wanted it and on our fourth walk of the 'high' street we decided this might be a drug free way of killing some time. The bus driver/ guide took us around three spots of 'interest'; an alternative energy company, a candle factory and natural rock formation that the aboriginals considered sacred – and what drew the hippies there in the first place. I played the model tudent during the tour:

Me: That was interesting, what did he say about the thermal generator that...

Chloe: I DONT care

We also bought a candle at, you guessed it, the candle factory. On the way back, on the outskirts of Byron Bay, the driver announced: “at the end of this journey the local police sometimes like to give us a little greeting party so if anyone made any 'special' purchases and would like to get off early please let me know”

Half the bus got off.

We did further walking in Byron Bay, again around the headland (no nudists) and down the beaches. We got lost this time so ended up walking the second furthest of my life (first place: when Gran took her grandchildren on a nice day out at Brown Moss – circa 1986 – and forgot where she parked the car). Other events worth a mention; the fruit bats are ridiculously big swooping around; a rainy night in watching Midsomer Murders and a morning comforting our hostel receptionist. She had accidentally received an email, intended for the owners of the hostel that included some pretty derogatory things said about her, from her boss. Endless tears.

 

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