Ian contacted Robyn, who he worked with at Rockend and had retired to Byron Bay with her husband, Denis. Robyn invited us for lunch on Monday, so we left Arrawarra and headed north. It took nearly 3 hours to drive to Byron Bay, with a lot of roadworks between Grafton and Ballina. Neither of us had been to Byron Bay before, so this would be a new experience for us, as well as a chance to catch up with Robyn.
Byron Bay was best known as a hippie area many years ago, but this demographic has changed dramatically as many relatively affluent people have moved in, built beautiful houses, and adopted a carefree lifestyle in a tropical climate with trendy shops and cafes. We got stuck in traffic in the Byron Bay town centre. It was hard to believe how busy it was here. When we drove up to Robyn and Denis’ beautiful house, we saw many young people sunbathing on the grass outside one of the cafes! It has been many decades since we had done that sort of thing.
Robyn and Denis love Byron Bay, and had been visiting Byron for 26 years prior to buying their first house here a few years ago.
Robyn prepared delicious sandwiches for lunch, accompanied with a curried pumpkin soup. Dexter was a bit excited at first, but being a good boy, he laid down quietly on the front lawn while we had lunch on the front veranda. Robyn looked great, and both her and Denis lead a very healthy life.
It was good to catch up with Robyn, and to find her at home and available for us. We lamented that we didn’t take any photos of our lunch, as we were so busy chatting.
While at Robyn’s, we booked a powered site at the Ferry Reserve Caravan Park at Brunswick Heads for 2 nights. We had a little difficulty finding the place as our Tom Tom GPS was not receiving a GPS signal.
The Ferry Reserve Caravan Park had good facilities, although the cleaners closed the amenities near us at 9:00 am when we decided to have a shower. Not impressed. It is located next to the motorway, so it is a bit noisy, although this was not a problem inside Matilda. The location on the Brunswick River was picturesque.
On Tuesday morning, we decided to check out Brunswick Heads. We had been encouraged to visit the pub, which is owed by John Cornell (aka Strop) and David Gyngell. However, we could not find anywhere to park Matilda. We found several likely parking spots, but there were always signs nearby indicating that only vehicles less than 6 m were allowed. Matilda is 8 m long with the bike rack on the rear. Brunswick Heads is definitely not RV friendly.
We drove off in disgust to Byron Bay. Our Tom Tom had died, so navigation was challenging. We pulled up at one place to check where we were on Google Maps, and found that we were near the Stone and Wood Brewery, one of Ian’s targets for this trip. Parking was easy, so we went in. The courtyard was dog friendly, so Dexter came too. Ian had a tasting of 3 beers—Cloud Catcher, Jasper Ale and The Prequel—all great. As time was getting on, we decided to stay for lunch. Ian ordered a Korean chicken burger while Katie had a char siu bowl with noodles and vegies. Both dishes were yummy. Ian washed down his burger with Pacific Ale, but felt that it had been watered down from what he remembered it to be. Ian postulates that their Cloud Catcher pale ale is the new Pacific Ale, so he bought a carton. He also bought a 1 litre squealer of The Prequel to share with Grant. Stone and Wood was our first beverage producer of the trip, and we enjoyed it thoroughly.
Next door was Byron Bay Cookies, and Katie checked that out and bought some very Moorish biscuits. Katie enquired about the ugly tall silvery statue erected right at the nearby busy roundabout and was told that was supposed to be the Byron Bay Lighthouse. The statue is a bit controversial among the locals. Unfortunately, we could not visit the lighthouse with Dexter, as it is in a national parkl.
Suitably fortified by Stone and Wood, we wanted to check out the Byron Bay town centre. Again, we found lots of parking signs allowing only vehicles under 6 m, but there is a nearby, large park for day use by RVs. Signs prohibited camping, but some vehicles appeared to be set up for an overnight stay.
The shops were much higher class than we expected. Katie was not attracted to any of the clothes on offer, so we headed to Belongil Beach, which is dog friendly and off-lead. Dexter enjoyed a swim and a frolic with other dogs at Belonjil Beach.
We decided on seafood for dinner, so we searched for a fishmonger. We found a shop called the Fishmonger, but it was a restaurant. We finally found a real fishmonger and bought locally caught mackerel for dinner to accompany a pumpkin, cranberry and macadamia salad!
We arranged to meet up with friends Rob and Donna from our Kimberley trip in 2015 at their home on the Gold Coast. Rob suggested yum cha, and after careful consideration for a microsecond, Katie responded with YES.
On Wednesday morning, Ian took the Trek mountain bike off the rack for the first time since we left home, and rode into Brunswick Heads. There is parking for longer vehicles, Ian found, not too far from the town centre on the Old Pacific Highway. However, we were off to the Gold Coast today, so Brunswick Heads was not going to benefit further from our visit.
Back at the caravan park, we emptied our toilet and filled our fresh water tank, and set off for Queensland.