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Monday 23 Jun 2003
Byron Bay, Australia

Didgeridos, Scary Mountains and Hemp Clothes

I started yesterday taking a scenic tour of my new home... I headed off east along the beach toward the Byron Bay lighthouse (apparently it is the brightest lighthouse in the Southern Hempishpere). The route took me along some of the best surfing beaches in Oz; one in particular: "The Pass" is supposed to be ideal for beginners since the waves arent too rough but last a long time before they die down giving me ample time to clamber to my feet and, well, SURF!

The walk finally takes you up to the "Most Easterly Point In Australia"! From the top of the cliff I was able to spot a sperm whale about 1km out to sea making its migration northward. Meanwhile I scoffed some delicious homemade Butterscotch ice-cream. Bliss

Later in the day I headed off to Bangalow (a nearby town in the mountains) to see the hippy Sunday Market. Who would have guessed that Id be walking away from there with ANOTHER new instrument in my posession, but thats exactly what happened... I came across a stall selling a variety of quality Didgeridoos and I tried my hand at playing one. It took a while but after 5 minutes of desperate blowing I was flying and making some amazing deep vibrating sounds out of the quality wood pipe! The guy (a WHITE Ozzie!) has been playing and making the Didge for about 10 years and he could produce some fantastic sounds that Ill get with some practice (hopefully!). He had cheap beginners bamboo "didgeridoos" which worked but didnt really have that deep bassy tone. Rather I preferred the professional Lemon Tree termite-hollowed trunks he had on display. They were a bit expensive at 120 dollars, but this price is a LOT better than you would pay for a pro didge in the city. He described these one I bought as a "didgeridoo players didgeridoo": a professional one that I can learn to play properly on. I also got a bag and some extra wax thrown in for a bargain 20 dollars... its EXCELLENT fun and as soon as I get the breathing method down to a tee Ill be able to play continuously for minutes instead of seconds!

As the sun set on this eventful day I took a stroll along the beach to catch the amazing pink/orange-red sunset and saw a school of dolphins about 1 km off-shore jumping high over the ocean. It really was a beautiful sight, but unfortunately the dolphins were too far away for my camera to catch them... Maybe if I head out on a boat trip Ill get a better view

Yoel and Kfir arrived into town this eve and we headed out on the town till around 1.30 AM. Met a local Israeli surf-teacher (a friend of Yoel as it happens) who said he can have me surfing in just two lessons.... Yoel also saw a surf board he reckons would suit me at a reduced price of 300 AU$... well see how I go with the lessons before I commit to anything. I might take a lesson tommorrow, but defo sometime this week since Byron Bay is really the best place to try it out.

This morning I booked into a cheaper caravan park that I found yesterday. Im paying 10 dollars for the space instead of the 22 I was paying before. In fact since Ive started travelling Ive been paying around the 20 dollar mark since these caravan parks usually have a 2-person min price.

I know now to look out for a place that charges PER PERSON instead of PER PLACE (which usually means Im charged for 2 people).

Took another detour into the mountains today and headed to the famous hippy town of Nimbin.

This town is really unique and it has been the Ozzie centre for Alternative cultures since 1973 when it was adopted by roaming hippies and they held the Acquarius Festival.

In town you are bombarded by tie-dyed shirts everywhere (as well as being approached by every second person trying to sell everything from Ganga to LSD to "hardware"). The town is overtly pro-Marijuana and the Nimbin museum (beside the Police station strangely enough!) is an amazing artistic achievement showcasing the "FOR" case for drug legalisation and featuring pics from the Acquarius festival (most people took the clothing optional approach!)

Nearby is the Hemp Shop where you can buy just about anything like copy-books to clothes made completely out of hemp! Its pretty unreal and some of the t-shirts feature class logos so I might pop back there sometime this week...

Its definately a culture shock though and the glazed look from most peoples faces tells me they seem to be on "something" there

I tried to take in Mount Warning today as well which has a 4km route up to the peek stepping over age-old tree roots.. got halfway but it got too dark to continue so Ill have to try it earlier tommorrow. This Mountain is the highest in the region and is supposed to have stunning views of the valley. Plus its a pretty tough trek!

Some aside info here...

Bushwalking in general in Oz means walking ANYWHERE, not necessarily among bushy scrub as was my previous assumption!

Also I havent seen any goddamn roos in Oz yet! I think it must be the wrong season or maybe I need to head inland???

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