Reunion of Sorts

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Following Chris and my sojourn to Mt. Warning and our night out in Surfer’s Paradies, the plan had been to pick up the girls and drive in to Brisbane and then check out some of the area to the north, but it turned out that Aaron wanted to go out bowling and for dinner with us the next day, which meant a change of plans was in order. We decided to head down to Byron for the day instead and spend the day and the following afternoon there before coming back up to Surfer’s to meet Aaron for dinner. As an added bonus, Dave, Katie, and some remnants of PC4 were also heading there from Brisbane that day, so we arranged to meet with them and for $20 we were able to stay in one of those cabins on the beachfront we’d had when we were last in Byron Bay. You can’t beat that and we certainly weren’t going to try, so we were set.

We had some time to kill and, having seen a sign for the natural arch driving the day prior, we decided to detour out there and check it out. It was only 36km or something. But that 36km is through winding mountain roads so it took a bit longer than expected. We got there and the girls had both fallen asleep and Alli seemed grumpy that we stopped somewhere en route, but we did have time to kill before we were to meet in Byron. It was actually pretty sweet. It’s a place where a waterfall has bored a hole into a cave ceiling, and so you have this big cave with a waterfall falling into it which looks like a big arch. It also offers a place to jump in from pretty high and, naturally, some swimming in and around the arch. We saw a few kids jump from the waterfall and so decided that we would check it out. Not knowing that swimming was allowed, none of us was in swimming gear but Chris went for it anyway and took the big plunge into the cave. Graceful landings doesn’t appear anywhere on his resume, and for good reason, but he was fine.

Then off to Byron. We came into Murwillumbah and there were no signs directing us as to which highway would take us in that direction. You may recall that Chris and I had been unable to find the natural arch yesterday and got somewhat lost in this area. It seems it happened again. We wound up taking a wrong way out of town into some small country roads and backtracked, driving along until we found signs. We made it to Byron by 4:30 which worked out pretty well. It was pretty cool to see Katie again and catch up. She has seen her share of the Keppel sun, that’s for sure. Dave and some girls from PC4 (plus Doug) were also there and we went into town for dinner at Paul Hogan’s old restaurant on the waterfront. It’s quite the setup they’ve got. A large lounge/dinner area (probably they could seat 500) and not a waiter or waitress in sight. People go to the bar to get their drinks and go to the counter to order their food. Which was pricey. And the place, it being Saturday, was close to full. Their kitchen was surprisingly small and all I could think was that money was being made hand over fist. I can’t see a self-service system being very popular for this type of food back home, but it seems quite big over here.

After dinner, a few drinks, and a stop with Katie and Chris for some rum and coke for the night, we headed back to our houses and relaxed and had some drinks. We had a bit of PC2 catch up and then joined PC4 in their cabin for some more shenanigans. Some of them left for town which we weren’t really up for, so we went to the beach for a while and then called it a night. Kate was falling asleep on the beach anyway and lately I’ve been really tired at night too. Maybe it’s the driving, but mostly I think I’m getting a little something cold-like. It was funny to have the exact same beds we’d made us of in the same cabin last time we were in Byron.

We split off with the others in the morning and spent the afternoon in Byron. After looking around at didjs with Chris for a while and getting yelled at for using free wireless when I could be inside using an internet café owner’s much slower wired connection, we met Megan and her friend Brin for lunch. They were both really friendly and it was a good lunch. It was funny, we were sitting at the restaurant eating and Chris looked across the street and there were Kate and Alli sitting on the sidewalk having sandwiches. We invited them to stay when they swung by (now Alli wanted us to hurry through lunch to get back to Surfer’s earlier as they were bored) but they went and got some more internet stuff done. We parted ways with Megan and Brin and went to get the girls when we discovered that the really good didj shop was open. I went up with Chris and the owner was giving free lessons (didj = didgeridoo, by the way) and invited us to sit in. We made some pretty decent progress I’m proud to say, though the breathing out and in at the same time still eludes me, and both of us wound up buying a didj. I pick mine up on Thursday as well as Chris’ (after I drop him at the airport in Brisbane) and I’m pretty excited to see it. It’s going to have a bit of a custom painting on it and, yeah, it should be pretty sweet.

That took us long, and to their credit, the girls were pretty patient about waiting even though we left after 4:30, which was the time I figured we’d be gone by. We got back into Nerang and, after some more flukey navigation, Aaron’s at 5:59 on the nose, one minute before the 6:00 we’d promised, and he brought us out to what he considers the best Thai restaurant in all of Queensland. It certainly was a pretty cool looking place, with fountains and little outdoor huts, and everything. They all had the pad thai and I went for something else and think I probably had the better meal. I didn’t really care for their dish at all, to be honest. Then, we grabbed a movie about three people who were abducted in the outback (two of whom were killed) and watched Princess Bride afterwards. Inconceivable! Then, bed beckoned and we slipped softly to sleep after a little alliteration. Tomorrow, Brisbane. Then up to the Sunshine Coast and Noosa Heads before making our way back to Brisbane via Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo and Chris, Kate, and Alli’s final night in Australia.

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