This bucket list item was completed on 29th April 2015 in Collangatta, Australia.
This blog post picks up where #66 Hug a Koala Bear left off. After Spending most of the day at Australia Zoo, we were back on the road to keep making progress towards Sydney. We only had two nights left at this point and we were still north of Brisbane.
The Gold Coast was on the way and I had heard a lot about it from my kiwi friends, so we made a pit stop in there for some dinner. We checked out one of the burger restaurants along the main strip and then walked through the Ripley’s Museum to get our fix of tourist activity. The Gold Coast seemed like a cool place and reminded me of the high-rise condos that you find along Miami Beach, Florida.
We probably could have enjoyed a night there, but we knew that we could only spend a short time in each place if we wanted to make it to Sydney on time. Our final destination for the night was Coolangatta because it was a known surf town. I knew of Coolangatta because of the World Surf League competition that happens each year at a break called Snapper Rocks.
It was dark by the time that we got to Coolangatta and we didn’t have anything planned for the evening, so we went to the nearest McDonald’s to get some free wifi. The McDonald’s was across from Coolangatta beach and, while we were standing outside of our campervan, a security guard harassed us and told us that we were not allowed to park and sleep anywhere in the area.
We were not planning on sleeping there but, after his warning, we thought it was best to grab a hostel for the night and avoid a hefty fine. It was probably good that we booked into a hostel so that we could have proper showers.
The next morning I woke up quite early, so I went for a walk to locate a board rental shop. There was a shop near the McDonald’s that had plenty of boards and the conditions looked pretty good on the eastern end of the beach.
I walked back to the hostel to grab Dave and Branden and then we drove to the esplanade for some McDonald’s breakfast and to grab some boards.
Dave and I learned how to surf together but Dave hadn’t been surfing in a couple years and Branden never really got into it, although he had tried it a few times. I hadn’t been on board for a couple of months either so we thought it was best that we stay away from the locals as much as we could.
We surfed the eastern end of the beach, down the point from Snapper Rocks. There were lots of locals catching waves up the point but we stayed on the inside to get the odd one or two that came through.
We were pretty exhausted at this point so all we needed were a few waves to make us happy and to cross another item off my list. It was nice surfing without a wetsuit and we were able to stay in for a couple hours without getting cold.
After the surf was over we got back into our behemoth campervan to continue our journey. The next stop on the itinerary was Byron Bay. I had heard so many good reviews of Byron Bay, which sounded similar to the surf town of Raglan, New Zealand.
I was glad we checked it out because it’s such a cool little town with good surfing vibes. I heard that Byron Bay lighthouse was pretty iconic, so we shot through the town and went out to the point. The Byron Bay lighthouse is the most easterly point of mainland Australia.
While we were out there we noticed all of the surfers catching the right hand point break just down from the lighthouse. And then on the other site of the point we saw people launching hang gliders off of the cliffs.
This really seemed like a cool place to stay a while and we were on the fence whether we stayed until the evening or got back on the road. In a matter of minutes our decision was made for us. The clouds that were surrounding the town finally did their thing and it started bucketing down on us as we were walking around the town. It was coming down hard and was pretty miserable so we piled back into the campervan and put Byron Bay in our rearview mirror.
We had less than 20 hours before we had to be in Sydney and we were still 8 hours away. There was no time to spend a night in another town so we committed to driving through the night. I took the first shift out of Byron Bay, followed by Branden until about midnight. Then I woke back up and navigated for Dave as he drove until about 3 am to get us on the outskirts of Sydney.
Dave was exhausted at this point and none of us wanted to continue driving, so we pulled into a rest stop and all grabbed some shuteye. We rolled into Sydney in the morning and managed to get the campervan back on time. We had a crazy couple of weeks between scuba diving, Fraser Island, surfing and general road trip shenanigans.
I was so glad that the guys made it on to the trip because it wouldn’t have been near as good on my own. This is one that I will remember forever and one of many still to come with those two.
Is surfing in Australia on your list? Or perhaps other places around the world? Let me know in the comments below.
Make sure to read my next post, [#11 Lesson] The Grass is Greener Effect, which discusses the lesson learned by completing this item. Want to be notified when it is posted? Subscribe below.
Dave has been on a mission, since 2010, to cross off the 100 items on his bucket list. The stories of his adventures are complimented by life lessons learned along the way and his travel tips are unique to his experiences.