So I guess I should be updating you in the goings on in my life, especially seeing as today I've literally done nothing but watch Gossip Girl. Literally. I have slighty square eyes, a cricked neck and am now able to concisely argue the merits of Dan Humphry over Chuck Bass.
So: Road Trip part two.
We awoke in Brisbane after a lovely nights sleep, having been put up for the night by my Mum's friend Pauline. Turning up to someone's home rather than a hostel for the night is indescribably better than checking into a hostel, especially after our epic mileage that day.
Having looked at various forecasts and found Byron not to be in danger of flooding we set our sights there, deciding en route to make an impromptu detour via surfers paradise.
Not being particulalry knowledgeable on Aussie sights I didn't really know what 'surfer's' meant. My lonely planet guide is still barely touched and I've gleaned most of my knowledge from other backpackers passing through the hostel. If someone said 'surfer's paradise' to me I'd imagine untouched beaches with enormous waves, little shacks selling herbal products and quirky cafes with driftwood inspired artwork. Instead I awoke (I'm big on backseat napping) to enormous skyscrapers practically on the sand, traffic and neon bar signs. Oh, and more people on one spot of beach than I'd seen in three months.
One hour probably isn't enough time to get a feel for a place, but Surfer's was a bit...weird. It felt more like a shopping resort with a beach than a beach with shops. Very shiny, and a little fake, it made me miss Mission's emptyness. I'd rarely shared the beach with more than a dozen people, and the beach was 12km long. Maybe living in the back end of beyond had made me agoraphobic?
Byron was totally different, filled with hippies and backpackers it felt like a big version of Mission beach. I always think it reflects well on a place when half of the residents can walk around with no footwear on. The beach was busy, but it didn't feel intruded upon by the town, being set a little apart from most of the buildings. Ash and I had a great time playing in the waves, something you don't get up north with the protection of the GBR. I can see why lifeguards are a must though - even in the safe areas there was a strong rip tide, and the sand often seemed to fall away from you leaving you chest high in water with one step (or in my case stumble). I'm a strong swimmer, but at one point Ash had to drag me towards him because I couldn't walk or swim fast enough to beat the tide!
That evening we decided to have a few quiet drinks while it seemed like the entire rest of the hostel were intent on getting trashed. At the 10.30 curfew we were kicked out, and with someone asleep in our room decided to head out for one more drink... Famous last words.
Having spent the best part of three months essentially drinking in a village, it was strange to have to queue for a drink and to not know anyone else in there; once the shock of seeing a concentrated amount of people wore off and the alcohol kicked in we had a brilliant time. Deciding at 1am that we should probably try to get some sleep seeing as we were faced with driving at least ten hours the next day, we stumbled back. Probably a very wise decision indeed.
Ash dragged us out of bed at 8am, and I essentially rolled into my clothes and out to the car. After a nice nap in the back I took over driving, and was very pleased to clock up over four hours in one sitting. Having not driven much recently - cars are a hindrance in London - this was quite the achievement. As was not being killed by the insane truck drivers who enjoyed overtaking me at 110km/hr. In torrential rain. Mental.
We reached our destination of Rouse Hill safe and sound, greeted by Wendy and family with much excitement. Ash and Stacey met Wendy while working the Australian Open last year, and she essentially adopted them; now she's adopted me too! (Sorry Mum). Incredibly generous, her and her family are letting us camp out here to enjoy some down time.
And now for some Sydney adventures...