Sorry for the long delays between posts! the internet connectivity in many of the locations has left something to be desired.
If there is one thing you can say about the eastern coast of Australia it is that it has some of the most abundant and amazing beaches I have ever seen. I only had time to stop at two – Byron Bay and Fraser Island via Hervey Bay.
Twelve hours north of Sydney by Greyhound is the stunning Byron Bay. The area if famous for whale watching, particularly from June to October when humpbacks begin the migration to the southern feeding grounds in Antarctica. The Bay, as well as Fraser Island (which I will talk about in part II) are convent and safe rest stops on the route. I did manage to see a couple stragglers off the coast as well as two pods of dolphins playing in the swells.
One of the highlights of the area is an hour or so hike of the coastal rainforest ridge that over looks the bay. There is a lighthouse atop the ridge, still functional but closed to the public. That of course did not stop dedicated volunteers from wandering the area, equipped with a docent cart filled with information and tangibles about the area and whales. They managed to engage visitor about a range of topics, including a discussion about shipping pathways that may open near and through sections of the Great Barrier Reef, not only putting the reef itself at risk but seriously affecting the migratory paths of the whales as well.
I of course spent some time on the beach, enjoying the white sands, warm and crystal clear water ( especially compared to SF!), and sunshine.
In addition to abundant sea life and beautiful beaches, Byron has a very laid back, artsy feel to it, similar to the surfer community in Santa Cruz. I found it an ideal place to surround yourself in natural beauty and with people who truly appreciate the place for the gem it is.
Sadly I only had one night here. Time for a nine hour bus ride to Hervey Bay!