Our first week on the road has been soaked with rain. The first campsite we barely found because we thought the road had turned into a floodway (turns out it just turned sharply around the corner). We tested out all our new gear and all was well. Then we headed to the mountains.
Washpool National Park
This park is part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area (which includes 40 parks). After climbing the mountain into the park, we were greeted by the famed lyrebird walking across the road. We set up camp and went on a quick stroll by the creek in the last hours of daylight.
We made a fire because it was quite chilly (in the 40s F) and because, quite frankly, we had nothing else to do. Camping in winter means sunset is around 5pm, so we quickly decided to reset our internal clocks and try to go to bed early. Next morning we woke up to the dawn chorus of birds (none of which we recognize). But it was quickly stifled by more rain. We decide to be bold and hike anyway.
The first half of the 8.5km walk was serene and beautiful. The second half, was full of panic and shear terror. Leeches. Little ones, mind you, but the first ones either of us have ever encountered. All I remember is running down the path stomping and trying not to slip down the soggy hillside, on the verge of tears but too out-of-breath to bother with anything but getting back to camp. Every time we stopped to do another leech check, it felt as though they were seeping out of the ground and falling from the trees (which they were). All was well in the end, by the time we made it back the rain had stopped and only one had drawn blood (my blood). The rangers even made a joke about it… Ha ha ha.
All in all, it was a gorgeous park and we had it all to ourselves the entire time. Lots of birds and even a little furry critter we couldn’t identify (all we saw were glowing eyes in the dark, probably a possum).
Byron Bay is a moderately-sized tourist trap, the eastern-most point of Australia. A subtropical Santa Cruz with a brewmaster-less brewery (they’re importing a new one from South Africa), lots of backpackers, dreadlocks and ukeleles in carrying cases. Our initial intention was to make this a lunch stop, but after three days we decided hot showers, food and dip in the ocean would be a welcome change of pace. It was strange to go from the cold isolated mountains to the warmish seaside hubbub in one day. But the beach really is beautiful and worth the stop.
We were originally planning to visit Border Ranges National Park, but unfortunately they seem to be rebuilding every single road in the park, so it’s closed. Luckily, on the east coast of Oz you’re never too far from another wonderful park, so we ended up at Whian Whian State Conservation Area, near the hippie town of Nimbin (we felt right at home).
Here’s a little video I made: