Around Australia: Byron Bay, the hinterlands & the Gold Coast

Byron Bay lighthouse is the eastern-most point of the Australian continent and the first place to see the sun rise. The proprietor of the motel we stayed at said that we could leave our car there after checkout if we wanted to do the 45-minute walk to the lighthouse. However, that was not to be as we woke to yet more heavy rain. Before leaving the town we drove over and found the lighthouse enshrouded in the mist. There were a number of soaked runners on the road whom I admired for the tenacity. The Hinterland Way took us over to visit friends. The first viewpoint near Bangalow was also very misty.

Bangalow can be very busy and we could not find anywhere to park so continued to Lismore where we had a coffee and wandered up and down the street sheltered from the rain by the canopies. It took us a while to find our friends’ house with the help of neighbours and on the way, we spotted this kookaburra.

After lunch, our friends took us on a drive around the local area. One stopping point was Nimbin, pausing just before entering the town to look at the rocks.

Nimbin was described in an Australian newspaper a couple of years ago as ‘Naughty Nimbin’ and it is a bit of throw-back to the 1970s, alternative lifestyles, aging hippies and lots of eccentric people. We wandered around, had a coffee and then visited the Candle Factory.

Back at the house the sun was setting.

This morning we awoke to mist and drove back to the Pacific Highway. A little further north the Gold Coast Highway took us into Queensland and our first stop at Currumbin Beach. It is the quietest of the 57km of beach on this coast and Elephant Rock Lookout gives good views north to the skyscrapers of Surfers Paradise and south towards Coolangatta. There are other quiet spots to seek out alomg the coast, often in the hinterland but we did not have time for this today.

We did not stop at the busier Burleigh Heads, Miami or Surfers Paradise beaches as drove along, dwarfed by the skyscrapers. The temperature rose to 23 degrees. Just south of Brisbane we had another spell of heavy rain, but the sun returned once we had crossed the Brisbane River. The Highway had now become the Princes Highway and we made our way to the Glasshouse Mountains, enjoying the sight of greenery again. We only drove 90 miles on Wednesday and today 283, making our total so far 915 miles.