After several days of travelling through mountains of the Great Dividing Range in NSW, I left Glen Innes and began the descent to the coast. I chose the route through Tenterfield, Casino and Lismore reaching the coast at Ballina. Four hours of descending, winding, twisting, braking, sitting behind trucks, stopping for roadworks and singing along with my favourite tunes on my iPod and I finally reached the coast.
Wow! Instant climate change! Not just the temperature which jumped at least six degrees Celsius but the plant life. The wonderful semi-tropical trees, palms that hadn’t been transplanted, massive Moreton Bay figs, and poinsettias four metres high. (Made my potted 20cm poinsettias look Lilliputian.)
I had previously decided not to stay right in Byron Bay so had booked into a caravan park at Suffolk Beach just five kilometres south of Byron. What a lovely park! Jungle-thick trees everywhere. Delightful staff. The young woman at reception calculated my week’s stay at $238 at the current tariff of $34 per night then proceeded to find ways to reduce it. First, since I was staying seven nights that meant I could pay for six nights and get one free. Great, that made it $204. Then she gave me a senior’s discount which amounted to another free night. So that dropped another $34. So I ended up paying $170 for a week’s accommodation in Byron Bay. Not bad. Sure I'm providing the bed and the roof, but let's not quibble.
My site is conveniently close to the amenities with a short walk through the jungle to the beach. I haven’t seen the beach yet but my neighbours told me it is pristine.
Speaking of my neighbours – I pulled into my site and began to set up my home away from home. To anyone seeing the Tardis go UP for the first time, it’s always an eye-popping experience. I have to admit I get a bit of a kick out of watching the jaws drop. So I’m setting her up and out of the corner of my eye, I see my neighbours opposite sitting watching me. So as I “effortlessly” push up the walls, I lean out and say to them “How’s that?” They almost cheered but instead they came over to check it out. Two couples with four kids. I invited them in to look. No they didn’t all fit in but they were impressed.
One of them asked “Do you have an annexe?” “No”, I said. “But I have an awning. It’s a bit of an effort to put up so I’m going to do it tomorrow.” The two young men said, in chorus, “We’ll do it. Since you’ve given us the guided tour, we’d be happy to do it.” I could have kissed them but raced for the awning, guy ropes, tent pegs and mallet before they changed their minds. It’s the one thing about the Tardis that I hate. The bloody awning. It takes ten minutes to put the van up and forty-five minutes (if I’m feeling in the flow) to put the awning up.
The young women retired back to their kids, and Chris and Stephen and I got that awning up before you could blink. When we’d finished, I produced beers all round. They invited me to come over and visit them later and left me to finish settling in. They have two camper trailers with a tarp that covers both. Great set up and they have two kids per couple all about the same age. Perfect holiday. Beautifully behaved and very articulate children. Delightful people.
I did go over and have a chat with them around 5 p.m. They were ordering pizzas for dinner so I left when the food arrived. As I left, six-year old Sienna said “You can come and visit us tomorrow if you like.”
I reckon I will.