Nostalgia and South

We took a trip to Byron Bay beach on Saturday, as Ben, a good friend from my London coding/IT-slave days last century, is doing a stint in Sydney, and had taken a weekend in Byron to try out the surf. We met up at the Beach Hotel, and caught up the intervening years over a couple of cold ones, while his mates kept right on surfing.
I had already promised Fran a trip South, so so the following Friday morning we bundled into the car at 6am, and hit the road. We decided to head to Iluka via Casino and the Summerland highway, as we hadn't driven that route before. The forest and landscape going that way are quite a bit drier than around Nimbin, and a good introduction to the more normal East Coast hinterland habitat. We came off the Summerland at Pringles Way, which led us past some amazing wetlands filled with cattle and flocks of white cockatoos, and then took the car ferry over the Clarence river to Maclean.
Fran liked Maclean as much as I did when I first saw the place, so we spent some time wandering along the riverfront, and drove up to the top of the hill to the lookout that allows you to gaze out over the widening Clarence, the whole coastal plain to Iluka and Yamba, and the Pacific ocean. After lunch we got on the M1 and doubled back North over the Clarence to check out Iluka. We stopped briefly at Shark Bay so Fran could get some photos and appreciate the scale of the national park where it runs North up the coast towards Evans Head. The beach had an amazingly strong onshore wind, but the ocean was gloriously warm and perfect for paddling (and for K, chasing seagulls).
The following day I sprang a Valentines' day eve surprise on C. Without telling her where exactly we were headed, I handed K over to Fran, and drove back with C once again to the beach at Byron, this time to a double room near the beach, and twenty-four hours of pretending to be carefree DINKYs. We did nothing special - grabbed a drink, grabbed a pizza, strolled through an art gallery at a snail's pace, wandered around the Byron Bay night market until it started closing up, and then got another drink. It's amazing how special time for yourself is once you only get a few hours now and again.
Having spent more than enough time driving across the range to the coast and back, the whole followng week was spent in the environs of Nimbin. We did a spot of gardening in the sunshine, hung out at the pool, and caught up on our movie backlog (The Road, Moon, Fantastic Mr Fox). Moon, I have to say, is bloody good. Why can't more people make that good a movie with that little cash?

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