Cape Byron and the Jewel of the Tweed or the Case of the Unrestful Restroom

Byron-bay-lighthouse-clouds

When anxious, uneasy and bad thoughts come, I go to the sea, and the sea drowns them out with its great wide sounds, cleanses me with its noise, and imposes a rhythm upon everything in me that is bewildered and confused. – Rainer Maria Rilke

For me the most challenging places to write about are usually those that are particularly special to me. I fear I will not do them justice. It’s time I stopped procrastinating though and shared my album of Cape Byron in New South Wales, 165 km south of Brisbane.  Some of my childhood was lived in small coastal towns and I spent  many hours of precious solitude and freedom on their shores. I visited Byron Bay for the first time in October, 2013  and it brought back a flood of wonderful memories for me. I could have lingered all day at the lighthouse, taking in the intense blue panoramas. If it is possible to fall in love with a place, I did that day.

I recently returned during tourist season. While the busy streets were a complete contrast to my first visit, the lighthouse views were no less dazzling and my original impressions of Cape Byron and Byron Bay – or Walgun and Cavanbah as the traditional Arukwal owners call them – have not been tarnished.

Byron-beach

The Arakwal people of the Bundjalung nation are the traditional custodians of the Byron Bay area. They lived there for thousands of years before European settlers arrived and survive today despite having faced many challenges. They have an informative website for those interested in their culture and wanting a greater understanding of the early history of the region.  Sadly, many important sites of the Arakwal people, such as burial grounds, were destroyed by European activities.

Byron-headland (2)

Byron Bay may be a popular tourist and backpacking destination now but its European history includes a flourishing  dairy and meatworks industry, sand mining and whaling. Cape Byron was named by Captain Cook in May, 1770 after Lord Admiral Byron and is actually the most easterly point of Australia

Byron-bay-clear-water

The Cape Byron Walking Track  is a 3.7 km loop and  involves steps and a steep gradient. Two hours is the suggested walking time and the paths take you through stands of rainforest and along cliff edges giving ocean vistas of the  Byron Bay region. It’s a popular exercise route for locals who look disgustingly fit as they run up the steep inclines, bronzed and lean and some of them rather ancient! Mind you, I saw one athletic woman “lose her breakfast” at the top which did nothing to encourage me to follow her fitness regime. People seemed friendly going down but no-one seemed particularly communicative on the steep ascent!

Byron Bay cliffs

You can begin the walk at various points along the loop. I started at the lighthouse so I’d be able to enjoy the best part first  before being soaked in perspiration and on the verge of collapsing. Others may prefer starting at the bottom and having the lighthouse as their reward. There is no point in me describing the scenes from the lookout when  pictures are far superior to any waffle that comes out of my head.

On the path further down  I happened upon a furry friend, which I think is a swamp wallaby. They vary in colour so it is difficult to tell sometimes and I am definitely not an expert. A man with a foot-long telescopic lens was camped in the best spot trying to encourage the creature to turn around. He looked at me  grumpily so I kept my distance. All he could see was the animal’s rather hefty, furry rump. He tried to induce it to look up at him with “Skippy the Bush Kangaroo” noises  from the old Australian television series. I must admit that I was once a fan of this show. What kid wouldn’t be when Skippy did all sorts of amazing things such as in this clip! Kangaroos and wallabies do not actually make Skippy mouth clicking sounds though.

Eventually, the photographer walked off in disgust without his desired shot. I walked over, coughed, and was rewarded by the wallaby turning around to face me. Thankfully, there are some benefits to having a lingering chest cold! Macropods sometimes use coughing type sounds to communicate.

Swamp wallaby on the path near Cape Byron Lighthouse.

Swamp wallaby on the path near Cape Byron Lighthouse.

byron-bay-lighthouse-wallaby

The native shrubs and a few flowering vines along the path kept the raucous figbirds active. Perhaps when I eventually take the plunge and buy the new camera I’ve been dreaming of I may have some decent shots of birds to share with you instead of blurry ones. It may well be just my lack of skill though and the new purchase won’t make an ounce of difference.

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Byron-Bay-walk-tree

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Cape Byron seat

I appreciate the many moods of the ocean, whether  angry and wild or calm and glassy. I find the vastness of it quite comforting and liberating. Rather than making me feel small and inconsequential, it just makes me feel more alive.

I imagine that being lost at sea during a ferocious storm would be an entirely different experience though. The long journeys of some of my ancestors from Europe would likely have been something to endure, especially for my heavily pregnant German great-grandmother who gave birth shortly after arrival in Australia in 1910.

Byron-Bay-Rocks-waves

Byron-bay-Rocks-waves-crash

Byron-Bay-blue- water

I know that some of you do not like the habit of padlocks being left on fences in tourist places but this lone example caught my eye. Obviously some planning went into this engraved one. Aaron and Jess, I hope you will be very happy!

Lovers-padlock

During the off season the township of Byron Bay has a very slow, relaxed atmosphere. It does have a reputation for alternative lifestyles but the “hippy” culture is not as apparent as in Nimbin, further inland. What I enjoyed on my first visit was the open-minded attitude of the locals. No-one stared at what I was wearing or doing, but people were very friendly when you spoke to them.

Byron Bay people

I was very impressed by how many people rode bicycles  and it seemed like the main areas of town were pedestrian friendly.

Byron bicycle

I have food intolerances but it was easy for me to purchase appropriate and delicious meals.  The cafes seem to cater for people with different needs unlike many places in Brisbane city which just have a token few items on the menu that are usually overpriced or where the staff look blankly at you when you say you have coeliac disease and need gluten-free food.

Byron Bay meal

On my second visit during summer, the town had a totally different vibe and the roads were extremely busy. I do hope Byron Bay can retain its relaxed atmosphere despite the activities of developers.

If you do happen to visit Byron Bay perhaps you may like to avoid the Space Age toilet or “rest room” on the beach-front designed to discourage unsavoury activities, be more hygienic and reduce water usage (or so I assume). Apologies to those for whom this is an unpleasant topic but in case you need to use the amenities,  you may want to be prepared for the conditions.

The building looks like a row of  clinical steel elevator rooms with thick metal sliding doors. They reminded me of some sort of decontamination chamber. When I arrived, a lady emerged with a strange expression on her face – she looked a little dazed and raised her eyebrows at me. I was soon to find out why.

I entered and pressed the button which “sealed” me in with a rather ominous whooshing and clunking sound.  An automated voice informed me that in ten minutes the door would automatically open. Now this might be okay for short trips and for those who have healthy bowels, do not have a baby, or who haven’t eaten an authentic Thai curry the night before, but some people need more time. Being told the door will automatically open is guaranteed to induce performance anxiety.

Just as you recover from the automated warning and begin to relax, it informs you, “The sensors do not detect movement. Please move around if this unit is still occupied.” This means interrupting proceedings in order to wave frantically. This command happens not once but several times.

In the meantime, you look around and see no toilet tissue roll. Where is it? With relief you finally discover a tiny button that you need to press. Two or three sheets slowly emerge at a drunken snail’s pace. Will the doors slide open before you finish? Thankfully, I was not embarrassed but I still had to navigate the “fine trickle” wash water and “one droplet” liquid soap dispensing machines before escaping. Give me the old fashioned  long drop pit toilets in Queensland National Parks any day rather than this modern monster.

Byron-Bay-views

After this incident I needed to escape the tourist crowds and so I headed back north again with the intention of exploring the small  township of Pottsville. Since I have the world’s cheapest GPS and no internal sense of direction, I missed Pottsville beaches completely and accidentally ended up at the seaside hamlet of Hastings Point, referred to as “The Jewel of the Tweed.”

And what a welcome surprise it was! Here were the pandanus trees, rock pools, shells and sand dune plants of my youth! It was also deserted so I spent a magical hour on my own before heading home again. Hastings Point Marine Science Reserve has quite a population of sea birds. Unfortunately I am terrible at identifying them. I think  there are some crested terns, common terns, an oyster catcher and silver gulls in these pictures.

Hastings Pt beach

hastings-Point-beach-rocks

pandanus

fruit

hastings-point-culture

terns-flying-beach

crested-terns

terns

I noticed this crazy population of ants’ nests which I hope are not an invasive exotic species. Fire ants are a problem in parts of Brisbane and strong efforts are being made to contain the spread. I didn’t want to disturb the nests too much but glimpsed a couple of copper-coloured ants about 5-8mm long. I am in the process of informing people of their presence just in case.

Ants-nest-Hastings Point-grass

The dunes were covered in erosion-preventing flowering vegetation.

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Hastings-Point-flowers

lichen

My walk turned a  little poignant as I came across memorials of those drowned at sea.

Hastings-Point-memorials

Hastings Point seems like a quiet alternative to Byron Bay during  tourist season so I am thankful that my lack of directional sense took me there. I’m hoping to head back  again one day to explore the rock pools at low tide as apparently they are home to a  wide variety of  marine creatures.

While I do love Cape Byron, I will try to avoid holiday season in the future. Byron features many popular festivals  during the year, including the Byron Bay International Film festival, the Byron Spirit Festival, BluesFest, Splendour in the Grass (Australia’s biggest winter music festival) and the Byron Bay Authors’ Festival, so check out this calendar of events first before you plan a trip. Perhaps you may not fall in love with Cape Byron as I did, however I doubt you will leave without feeling at least a little of its magic.

I could never stay long enough on the shore; the tang of the untainted, fresh, and free sea air was like a cool, quieting thought. – Helen Keller

Byron-Bay-lighthouse-steps

38 thoughts on “Cape Byron and the Jewel of the Tweed or the Case of the Unrestful Restroom

  1. I could go on for hours about the delights of this post, I so miss the other side of the world. My special favourite pictures were the swamp wallaby and that splendid old tree though I loved all the sea views too. Thank you very much, I am so glad I found your blog.

    • Hi Susan,
      I loved the little wallaby and it was the highlight of my walk actually. I liked that old tree too but wasn’t going to include it as I didn’t think others would like it. Now I’m glad I did. I expect the blue skies are a huge contrast to the snowy UK at the moment. I noticed you’ve had another cold snap. I hope you are able to stay warm. Thanks for reading and your encouraging comments. I’m glad to have “met” you and found your blog through the magic of the Internet. 🙂

  2. Regarding your comment about being lost at sea: just an hour ago I came across a quotation from 1623 by someone I’d never heard of, John Wodroephe: “He who travelleth not by sea, knows not what the fear of God is.”

  3. That’s a co-incidence, Steve. Thank you for sharing that quotation. Very apt! I must admit I prefer to look at the sea from the shore, not from a boat. My father had a fishing boat for a short time when I was a child and I felt vulnerable out in rough seas. The ocean can be very dark, deep and endless. Viewed from the safety of solid ground, the sea takes on a different character. Thank you for reading and adding to the “story.”

  4. The photos of the lighthouse and the area around it were spectacular! I loved the photos and story about the other photographer concerning the swamp wallaby, as well as the story of the space aged restroom. All I can say about that is that the engineers who designed it should be forced to use it, automatically opening doors, they must have been out of their minds!

    The photos from around Hastings Point were also great, especially the seabirds and wildflowers!

    • Thanks Jerry! You are so encouraging. I’m glad you liked the pics and stories. It’s very easy to take nice photographs of such a beautiful spot though. One can’t go too wrong in this case really with so much lovely blue sky and pretty scenery, although you should see all my shots where the horizon was tilted! I wondered if people would think I was a little silly recounting my restroom experience. Phew! I’m glad you sympathise and think the automatic opening doors are a strange idea too. Looking forward to reading more of your great posts. Thanks again. 🙂

    • Oh thank you, John! You are too kind. It’s always lovely to receive your encouraging comments. I do love Cape Byron which is why it took me so long to write about it. I hope you are well and all is going to plan in your part of the world. 🙂

  5. So much good stuff in this post, I almost had to take notes. (I did, in a manner of speaking). You have nothing to complain about in your lovely photographs. A new camera is always fun, but your images are quite wonderful in my opinion… so shoot on! I’m so happy you shared this lovely spot (that I will likely never get to see). The water is such a scrumptious color.

    I totally loved the story about the photographer with the fancy lens. Yet another example that the amount of money poured into gear doesn’t always do the trick. That’s a fantastic shot of the sweet little critter.

    As for the restroom… it seems that some engineers have their heads up their bottom ends. That is beyond bizarre!

    • Thanks Gunta!
      I must admit I do like the old camera I am using for most things. It is very forgiving of my lack of technical knowledge. It’s more so the pictures of birds that I would like to improve. The zoom is not very good. The macro feature is lovely and in good light the landscapes work well. Darker conditions are a struggle, but if I stopped being lazy and used the manual settings properly the results would be better. As you said though, sometimes you can have expensive equipment and someone with something as simple as a phone camera gets a better shot!

      Yes, the waters around Byron Bay are indeed a beautiful colour. There are so many different shades of blue and green to be seen on the walks. It certainly helps with my blue addiction.

      The restroom certainly was an unusual experience for me. I assume they must have their reasons but it does seem a little over the top! Your comments made me laugh! Thanks for your encouragement as always. 🙂

  6. Great photos Jane. Cape Byron is one of my favourite local places and you did it justice. Did you walk up and back the coast track or do the loop up through Tallows Ridge past the hang gliding platform? That’s my favourite way to walk that walk.
    I have lots of great memories of Cape Byron – skipping afternoon lectures to go swim at Wategoes and the Pass, getting proposed to at Australia’s most easterly point just as a big pod of dolphins came surfing by, watching the sun set and the moon rise from the lookout at the Pass, doing my last walk here child free at 8 months pregnant, and these days getting Harry to walk most of the loop track rather than me carry him in the carrier (although he ends up on our shoulders before the end of it as it is pretty tough on his little legs). So many memories 🙂
    And yes the off season is definately the time to go, much less mad!

    Hastings is a great little spot but used to be even more sleepy – there used to be a caravan and campground where that new development is now and we used to stay there for uni field trips. These days the creek is a lovely spot to spend the afternoon with the little ones.

    Last thing, I am 99% sure those ants aren’t fire ants. We get those little nests everywhere here after the rain. There is a native ant that looks almost identical to the fire ant and physically you can only tell the difference under a microscope, but their behaviours are completely different, the natives aren’t aggressive. I used to work for the DPI fire ant program over 10 years ago after I graduated from uni. It’s good to see you taking notice of critters that are unusual and reporting them though, that’s how we find out about most exotic incursions is through the public.

    As for the toilets – I hate those ones!!!!
    Great post Jane.

    • Hi Amanda,
      So the lighthouse walk must be very special for you too, having been proposed at the easterly point! And how special to have the pod of dolphins go by at the same time. There should be a padlock up there with your names on it. Harry is doing well to walk most of the loop now as I’ve seen a lot of adults struggle with it. I meandered slowly along the coastal loop. I’m not a fan of the warmer months but I was hit by a nice breeze most of the time.

      Yes, I suspected that Hastings Point would have been even more quiet in the past. It has that look about it. I used to live at Hervey bay for a while as a child when it was just a sleepy little town apart from Easter and Christmas. Now it is much busier!

      I was fairly sure that the nests weren’t fire ants, however as some were quite big (20cm high), didn’t have obvious entry points and the size and colour were similar, I did wonder. I noticed they have something called crazy ants that are a problem but they seem to nest in crevices I think. I am relieved that the ants aren’t likely to be fire ants as they are nasty critters! We actually have our yard checked on a regular basis because they have made it to our suburb. Since my yard is a jungle, that is not such an easy job.

      Ah, you’ve had experience with those toilets too. They do make you feel vulnerable! I suppose I shouldn’t complain though as they are better than squatting on the ground toilets in parts of Asia where you have to balance very carefully!
      Thanks for your magnificently long comment. Your relationship with Byron Bay is longer and stronger than mine! 🙂

    • Thanks! Glad I could give you some entertainment. Mine are only once a week though. Your blog posts are a daily pleasure. I hope the knee continues to improve and you have some relief from the cold snap soon. Thank you for reading and the kind response. 🙂

  7. Jane, what a most delightful post! I actually had to read part of it twice (the restroom facilities) as Forrest wanted to know what was so hysterical, so I had to read it again, this time we were both in stitches! I loved the Wallaby shots. I laughed about the fellow with the long zoom lens too. Animals read our energy… and usually if I want to photograph an animal, I speak gently to it or simply put it out in the Universe, asking permission. Not surprisingly, most times I get the shot I want. No wonder that guy got no shot with the attitude he was toting! Your photographs are stunning and from so many perspectives… we get to see a little bit of everything! I love reading your work, Jane. I can’t seem to get enough of it… you are very talented with both written word and photography!

    • Thanks Lori! It’s funny about the rest room story as I actually held back a little, thinking I may go to far with the details. There was definitely more to be told but it seems that what I wrote was enough anyway to bring some laughs. I left the amenities with the same strange expression as the person before me! I don’t think I will forget that experience in a hurry.
      I did love the shots the wallaby gave me. I actually took many as it seemed very curious about me. They are lovely sweet looking creatures. I agree with you about animals picking up vibes. I certainly picked up some unpleasant vibes from the photographer anyway!
      You are very kind with your comments about my writing and photos, Lori. I am always nervous about publishing something but encouragement really helps. I am always very eager to read what’s going on in your own part of the world and enjoy the lovely pics. So glad you could spend some time with your gentle deer friends recently. 🙂

      • Many times I think the odd and unusual experiences make for the best stories. Sometimes writing about death in nature is difficult too, and not easy for some of my “soft-hearted” readers to take in, but it is a reality of life, and our duty to report it as we see it. And as with your restroom experience, I would certainly want to know about the experience before entering one! You have no idea how you enlightened so many of us. Bathroom business is not taboo… it’s a REALITY!!! Ha ha! Always go with your gut and don’t worry about how your truth is perceived. I say your writing ROCKS!! 😀

        • Thanks Lori! What a great support you are. Yes, so often we tip-toe around topics that are really just a part of life. Living on a farm is certainly one way to quickly face the realities of life, death and sex. It’s often when we make some topics taboo that misinformation occurs and people suffer more. I found that with child-rearing. We tended to only hear about the perfect babies that slept through the night and didn’t scream all day with colic. It made those amongst us with difficulties nervous about discussing our situation as we felt like failures. Information helps people make better choices. It can also be a relief as we know we are not alone in our situation. Thanks! Have a good week, Lori,

    • Hi! Yes, I did feel a little bad that he tried for so long and then I ended up getting the good shots. I was actually going to suggest making different sounds but as he wasn’t very friendly I kept my distance. I was planning to try to catch up with him and tell him the wallaby had moved but he was too fast for my little legs. Such is life. Thanks for reading and for the nice comments. I’m glad you liked the post. 🙂

  8. I’m continually amazed at how exotic your flora and fauna look compared to ours!

    I always feel a little guilty if I’m on the descent and heir are people ascending pass me, especially if they look worn out and I know they have a long way to go.

    As for the hi-tec toilets – I think I can safely say ‘No Thanks’ to those. It sounds like one of those great design ideas from a designer that’s never actually used it in its native environment.

    Look forward to your next post 🙂

    • Hi Rob!
      Yes, many of scenes from my hikes are a real contrast to yours! I find your walks very interesting for that very reason. One day I hope to walk some of the Munros and other parts of the UK. It looks very beautiful and a different kind of challenge.

      I started at the top of the lighthouse walk and ventured down so I passed many tired people coming up while I was feeling fresh. It was a different case when I had to ascend back though. Yes, I’ve been a few walks where people look exhausted and I know they still have a long way to go. I do feel sorry for them.

      I can understand the need to save water and increase safety in toilets at beaches, but the 10minute limit before the door opens just doesn’t take into account the needs of everyone. Disabled people, those with young children and people with certain medical conditions would find it a struggle I’m sure.

      Thanks for reading and and the nice comments. I also look forward to reading your next hiking post – so different to mine! 🙂

    • Hi! It’s a pleasure to share my country with you, especially when I am able to enjoy such beautiful pictures of Montana on your blog. The ice art is amazing. Frozen waterfalls are spectacular. It’s so strange and wonderful to be experiencing opposite seasons. Thank you for reading and the nice comments. The wallaby is my favourite too. 🙂

  9. Ah, Byron. I’ve only been there once. I was about 7yo and the family decided to go for the weekend. We had to get up really early because it was going to be a long drive (3hrs?) from Brisbane – and also to miss the traffic. We were always heading off early to miss the traffic. (Could explain why I can never get out early these days – still rebelling!) The following morning, a Sunday, when we woke up (early) and went down to the beach for a swim my sister and I got the fright of our lives – sharks! Really close!! They were dolphins, of course, as Dad pointed out. Although we felt a bit silly, we didn’t venture far out that morning!

    Another weekend, some years later, saw us pulling over at Hastings Point. Maybe we couldn’t be bothered going as far as Byron. Maybe it was going to be ‘too crowded and expensive’. As you know, like Pottsville, these little towns on the northern border of NSW are really nice spots for quiet holidays. Well – I’ve never been during school holidays – I imagine they’re quite packed then, but quiet in that you take your own entertainment. The best bit was it the beach was too rough the river was perfect to swim in. Not too deep, and crystal clear. There’s a few rivers like that along the east coast. Mooloolabah to the north of Brisbane has (or had) one. Tallebudgera, at Burleigh Heads near the Gold Coast, used to be like that but I don’t think it’s been that way for a while.

    Despite not having been to Byron in many years, your photos evoke so many of my own memories – of Straddie (Pt Lookout) mainly – our favourite family holiday destination – but also many other places around our continents’ long coastline. I love cliffs and ocean. I could watch it all day. It relaxes me like nothing else…. except being in Tasmania, perhaps. ; )

    And though I can’t say where for sure, I, too, have experienced one of those toilets. You can never forget the mad arm flapping, desperately hoping to pass through an invisible beams and prevent the unthinkable from happening.

    Wonderful post and beautiful photos Jane. Again. 🙂

    • Hi Dayna,
      Wow! I love reading these childhood (and adult) memories from you and Amanda of these places. It gives me a buzz when we can share our impressions from the past. I can imagine how terrified you would have been by the dolphin fins. I’ve experienced that myself as a child. Mind you, if there are dolphins, there can be sharks so you were not silly to feel nervous. My childhood car trips away always seemed to involve early starts too because we often lived in small country towns a long way from relatives and holiday destinations. I didn’t mind the early starts so much but my brother’s travel sickness meant we had to stop numerous times which made the journey even longer and sometimes he threw up on me. 😦

      I really loved how quiet Hastings Point was. I miss the sleepy coastal towns from my youth and I am on a quest to discover any that remain undeveloped so I’ll be heading back to that region again. I spent many enjoyable hours exploring rock pools as a child. I’ve noticed that so many of the soldier crab populations have gone and there are far fewer shells on the old beaches I used to go to.

      I’ve actually stayed at a friend’s house at Pt Lookout on Straddie on two occasions when the children were small. One visit was when my son was recuperating from his spinal tumour surgery and it was exactly what we all needed. I love Straddie too. I was reading something about sand mining possibly being continued or begun over there. People were battling the state government over proposals. It will be interesting to see what happens post-elections. I don’t think there is any place more relaxing and rejuvenating as ocean destinations, particularly majestic cliff lines on wilderness coasts.

      Hahah…I’m glad you can sympathise with me about the mad arm flapping movements required in the toilet. I was left feeling a little traumatised.

      Thanks for reading, sharing your own memories and for the lovely compliments, Dayna. 🙂

      • Thank goodness none of us had travel sickness! I feel so sorry for you – and your brother too. I don’t get sick on any kind of transport – car, train, plane or ship. Mind you, the only ships I’ve been on that kind of count are passenger/vehicle ferries between Redland Bay and Dunwich (Moreton Bay, Queensland), Melbourne and Devonport (Tasmania), Wellington and Picton (New Zealand). The latter was pretty rough, but not as rough as a couple of years ago when all the vehicles were smashed up and they lost a propellor. But that’s a different story, and I’m not trying to put people off…
        The sand mining on Nth Straddie has been going on for years. It’s quite controversial. From the little I know it’s not just about the environmental impacts but dodgy back room deals involving how the sand is used/sold…
        Straddie is a bitter sweet memory. It’s called ‘progress’, but not all progress turns out to be based on common sense. Ah well. I don’t even know when – or if – I’ll return. I took Stephen for a long weekend when I was still living in Brisbane, so it’s effectively been ticked off the list.
        🙂

  10. What a treat to read this – I had been saving it up until I had some spare time. I’d been to Byron Bay for BluesFest for many consecutive years in the mid 00s when it was held on the outskirts, so never actually went into Byron. The one time we went into Byron itself, I had a mini car accident in a borrowed car (my sister-in-law’s), so I have negative associations with Byron! I’ve never been to the cape, or the lighthouse (even though I just love lighthouses!) … but I am familiar with the beautiful coast of northern NSW. This makes me want to visit!

    Ha ha to the photog trying to entice swamp skippy to pose for him, and that your unintentional cough snagged you a great shot! It aggravates me when “wildlife photographers” don’t let wildlife be wild, just as it aggravates me when birders use bird calls to entice birds into the open for their viewing pleasure.

    Also, for your own use, don’t worry about going full manual – if your camera has an “A” (aperture priority) or an “S” (shutter priority); you’d be much better off focusing on learning how to use those effectively. I don’t think you need much learning; your photos are marvellous. I’m with you, though, on wanting a bigger lens for birds!

    I hate those padlocks! I think they are exactly the wrong symbolism. Is it not better to know that your partner is not locked into the relationship – that s/he stays with you with the freedom to leave, and you the same? (I have been told in the past that I have a strange perspective on relationships, and I’m a cynic, so … grain of salt and all of that)

    Those space age toilets are all the rage down in Melbourne town…

    • Hi Oanh,
      I think that some of my reader friends are competing to write the longest comment on my blog ever! You are certainly making me practise my social skills. This introvert is not used to so much interaction. 🙂 I love it though. It’s so interesting to read how one place can stimulate different memories for people. Sorry to hear about the car accident. I can understand why you’d have mixed feelings about Byron then. One day you must return though and check out Cape Byron Lighthouse. It is a fabulous spot and it may help to take the edge of the bad memories a little.

      Yes, it is a controversial issue the whole wildlife photography business. I had no idea until recently just how many photographs are contrived. It is great though that through photography many people learn about wildlife and the need to protect it. Without seeing these images there would probably be much less interest in saving the environment.

      It’s funny about the padlock thing as when I see the locks I don’t think of it as symbolising being locked into a relationship. I just see it as a way of leaving a trace of a couple’s love and a special memory for them. The padlock itself is not a symbol to me. It’s just a way of them leaving a record of the moment somewhere, perhaps in the same way someone would paint a picture or write a song or plant a tree. At least it is preferable to some of the hideous graffiti scars I see on trees. I wouldn’t do it myself though. I grew up seeing examples of both unhealthy, stifling, cage-like relationships where people hated each other but stayed together, and people who were allergic to commitment – who went from relationship to relationship in the name of freedom but hurt many people in the process. I have seen the worst of both ends of the spectrum and they both cause much damage. Seeing that lone padlock at the top of the walk actually made me smile. In a world full of evil and hatred and disaster, a little reminder of love is kind of nice. As I said, I wouldn’t do it myself though and I certainly understand why others hate it.

      Melbourne has a lot of those space age toiets? Really. Maybe I’ll have to carefully organise my toilet schedules when I make it down that way! 🙂

      Thanks for reading and for the lovely praise of my blog, Oanh! I’m glad you enjoyed it. Thanks also for the award winning length! I think I am writing more in my replies now than in my actual blog post. It is so nice to get feedback like this. Very kind of everyone. Enjoy your cycling and sewing, Oanh! 🙂

  11. Thank you for sharing the amazing adventure.
    If these photos aren’t enough to convince someone I don’t know what it!
    Fantastic 🙂 I thoroughly enjoyed it.

    • Hi!
      Thanks! I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. It is a beautiful spot. Just had a look at your blog. Looks great. I’m looking forward to following your writing. Thanks for reading and for the encouragement. 🙂

      • More than happy, I love adventure posts!
        So encouraging to see people being able to journey through this world and the ideas of places to go inspire others 🙂
        Thank you for taking a look and your kind words! That is fantastic.

  12. Cape Byron seems like an amazing location to wander and just enjoy the sound of the ocean. The colour of the clear blue sea against the dark cliffs is beautiful! Great photos! I was born and raised by the sea. I can sit for hours just enjoying the views of the waves crushing against the shore, the birds who you usually find close to sea and all the small creatures living in the waters! The ocean is probably the one thing I miss most from home, northing like it on the prairie where we are now:) Thanks for sharing a great post! And the wallaby is just adorable:)
    Inger

    • Hi Inger! I spent about 8 years of my life in small coastal towns and loved it so I can understand your feelings. It is something I missed when I lived for many years in outback towns. Byron Bay is a lovely spot. The colours of the sea there are gorgeous. Recently I travelled a little further south and discovered the Lennox Head area which is also beautiful. I hope to make a trip along the coast road all the way down to Sydney soon if I can so I hope to have a few more pictures to share. Thanks for reading and taking the time to give me such lovely feedback, Inger. I will have to have a look at your blogs too when I’m not working. 🙂

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