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Australia: Gold Coast and Byron Bay

Clarke's Beach, Byron Bay Clarke's Beach, Byron Bay

For my last day in Brisbane, I hired a car for the day and headed to the beach. The weather was perfect and it was my last chance to lie in the sun before flying south.

It was a bit nerve-wracking to drive out of Brisbane – nothing to do with the roads; I just haven’t driven since last year so for the first few minutes, I was shitting myself. Plus, the indicators were on the opposite side to what I’m used to so every few minutes when I was trying to turn, the window wipers were going like the clappers. I could not stop laughing; I must have looked completely mental. Trying to turn the wipers off, turn, the satnav shouting at me to turn around where possible and not crash the car was seriously stressful! But after a few minutes on the Pacific Highway and with everything intact, I was on my way.

I drove south towards the Gold Coast and turned off at Helensvale to continue on the Gold Coast Highway, the road that hugs the coastline all the way down to Tweed Heads on the New South Wales border.

I stopped in Surfers Paradise for a coffee first. It was absolutely gorgeous weather and I drove past the main beach to a cafe by Budds Beach, round the back of the strip on the banks of the Nerang River.

Budd Beach, Surfers Paradise

Budd Beach, Surfers Paradise

Surfers Paradise

Surfers Paradise

 

Back in the bar, I drove on past some stunning scenery – Palm Beach looked especially lovely – through rolling valleys and fields full of cattle, down past Point Danger, then back on to the Pacific Highway.

I crossed the state line into New South Wales around noon and then continued on to the lovely little village of Bangalow, about 14km inland from Byron Bay. I had lunch there and a walk around – I think this is more like what Gallery Walk on Tambourine Mountain is trying to be – then drove down the road to Byron Bay.

On the road to Bangalow, Byron Bay in the distance

On the road to Bangalow, Byron Bay in the distance

 

I met two ladies in Bali from Byron Bay and they told me I must try to go. Not only were they quite right, but I have no idea why you would want to go to Bali if you live in Byron Bay. It’s so beautiful. I drove up to the far end of Cape Byron and parked at Clarke’s Beach (simply because there was a car park and toilet there :)), which turned out to be a great choice.

Walking down on to the sand, you can see for miles round the coast. There were loads of surfers catching the strong waves coming round the cape, and it was really quiet. I lay down in the afternoon sun for a couple of hours and had a little snooze. It was perfect.

Clarke's Beach, Byron Bay

Clarke’s Beach, Byron Bay

 

The sun starts setting quite early here, so by 4pm it feels like the end of the afternoon. I walked up the beach a bit to the lookout from The Pass, where you can see up the coast on both sides and out to sea with Julian Rocks in the distance.

Clarke's Beach, Byron Bay

Clarke’s Beach, Byron Bay

Clarke's Beach, Byron Bay

Clarke’s Beach, Byron Bay

 

Lookout from The Pass, Clarke's Beach, Byron Bay

Lookout from The Pass, Clarke’s Beach, Byron Bay

Waiting for waves, Clarke's Beach, Byron Bay

Waiting for waves, Clarke’s Beach, Byron Bay

The Pass, Clarke's Beach, Byron Bay

The Pass, Clarke’s Beach, Byron Bay

I got going back to Brisbane just before 5pm for the two hour drive back to Brisbane, but I would love to come back here. Driving through the town, you can see there are some great restaurants and bars too – it’s on the list with a million other places!

Driving back to Brisbane was straightforward enough and there was an amazing sunset on the way, but the satnav didn’t recognise the drop off address (!) so I was driving around central Brisbane for over an hour trying to find it.

Sunset from the car, driving back to Brisbane

Sunset from the car, driving back to Brisbane

On the upside, Brisbane is amazing by night and I crossed most of the bridges, so got to see most of it!

 

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