Tag Archives: Ballina

Sunday, August 25

Up early. For breakfast, I had the “ashi fruit” I bought in town last night. It actually didn’t match the description I’d been given; it was more like a cross between fruit salad and cucumber. Not a big flavor, but very juicy and refreshing.

Then on the road again, ever northward. Ballina is really lovely as soon as you get out of the commercial district. I left the Pacific Highway and took the coastal road. The view of Lennox Head as I came through the hills was spectacular, with craggy cliffs giving way to long beaches. Morning light danced on the ocean, and everything is green and increasingly tropical. On through lovely, rapidly changing countryside–forest, coastal scrub, beaches, towns–to Byron Bay.

Byron Bay is a beachfront town famous for its splendid beaches–and for being the eastern most point of mainland Australia. The town and nearby Cape Byron are largely surrounded by national parks and nature reserves. It’s a lovely area, and a very popular holiday spot for Aussies.

I left the main highway and headed up a series of narrow, winding roads that led through parkland and out onto Cape Byron, a rugged point of land that stretches out into the ocean. At the tip of the cape is the Cape Byron Lighthouse, which was built in 1901.

Fun little bit of history: Cape Byron was named by Captain Cook (most stuff was on this side of Australia) in honor of his navigator, John Byron, who would in time become the grandfather of the great poet, Lord Byron. Because people who settled the area originally assumed the cape had been named for the poet, rather than the navigator, the town ended up with a lot of very literary street names: Tennyson, Browning, Marvell, Ruskin, Wordsworth, and so on. Made me smile.

I hiked around the splendid, craggy, green-clad cape for about an hour, photographing distant mountains veiled in mist, crashing waves below, rocky cliffs, curving white beaches, the lighthouse, and all the foliage.

Heading north once more, I regained the Pacific Highway, only to leave it again at Mooball, to follow the Tweed Coast Road–a blending of gorgeous horse properties, tacky beach communities, and glorious beaches and headlands.

Before too much longer, I crossed the state border into Queensland, and a little before noon, I was in Currumbin. On my first trip to Australia, very early in my stay, I visited the wildlife sanctuary in Currumbin. It was my first immersion in the birds and wildlife of Australia. I’ve since seen more out bush, but I still wanted to return.

They had changed the name, from Currumbin Bird Santuary to Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, and there was a greater emphasis on animals this time—but it was still fabulous. The birds were abundant and dazzling, but the larger numbers of kangaroos and wallabies made my heart sing. There were lots of other animals, of course, including plenty of koalas (which I happily photographed), but the ‘roos and wallabies were all about, grazing amidst the visitors, and I was overjoyed. I spent about 2-1/2 happy hours wandering through the beautiful grounds, photographing trees, flowers, and critters. It was wonderful.

Byron Bay

Byron Bay

Cape Byron Lighthouse

Cape Byron Lighthouse

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Filed under Australia, Geography, History, Nature, Travel

August 24, part 3

Ballina is a somewhat low-key resort area, with an emphasis on water sports and seafood. As a result, there are dozens of motels. I had to backtrack a little, since I couldn’t read all the signs on my first pass (traffic moves pretty quickly), but it gave me a chance to assess my surroundings.

The All Seasons Motor Lodge is not quite as posh as last night’s lodgings, but then I suspect being in a resort area means you get slightly less bang for your buck. Also, the two previous locations have been in far lovelier settings, surrounded by trees and nature, rather than on a busy commercial street. But all that said, it’s still quite pleasant. As with the other places I’ve stayed, it has all the amenities one might want, including tea-making facilities. I just don’t imagine I’ll awaken to birds in the morning.

I settled in and then to a stroll through town. There are several nice little take-away shops and some pleasant-looking restaurants, several stores and small shops, a couple of car dealerships, and a massive RSL (Returned Servicemen League – like VFW in the U.S.) club that takes up a whole block and is a couple of stories high. It’s the kind of mix one expects in an area that focuses largely on sport fishing.

I stopped at a little open-front market and picked up some bananas, a custard apple (which I’d been told I must try), and an “ashi fruit” – or that’s what it sounded like. The lady running the market had to look it up, but she said it’s supposed to be sort of a cross between an apple and a pear. She was charming, and I chatted with her and a few other shoppers. Then back to the motel.

The restaurant here is not a bargain, but I’m tired and don’t feel like trudging off to see if I can find somewhere cheaper (possibly without success, in a resort area). Besides, so far, the restaurants in the motels where I’ve been booked have been quite good, with nice, fresh food.

And this was no exception. For “entrée” (which, in Australia, as in Britain, means the course that brings you into the meal—the appetizer—rather than, as in the U.S., the main course—and to be perfectly honest, this definition makes more sense) I had a prawn and bug cocktail (bugs here are what Europeans called “slipper lobsters”—a lovely, sweet crustacean). It was an extravagance, but it’s something I haven’t had since my last trip to Australia, so I couldn’t resist. My “main meal” was a whole, fresh red snapper, grilled with lemon-parsley butter. Delicious.
As has been the case so far in each place I’ve stopped, the menu was delightful and the restaurant was nearly empty. I hope this is a seasonal thing, and that warmer weather brings bigger crowds. It would be a pity if these places couldn’t stay in business.

After dinner, I went for a short, moonlit stroll around the block (looks like a full moon, or close to it, tonight). I then headed back to the room for an evening of sorting through documents and preparing for the next part of the trip.

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Filed under Australia, Food, Travel