Sawtell, Belmont, Palm Beach and Sydney


The days and the miles pass quickly even though everything is measured in kilometeres. Most of civilisation in Australia is on the outer edges of the continent, certainly in Queensland and New South Wales, so it's great if you like the sea but the furter out to the beach you go wifi becomes less accessable. Saying that the views are incredible, vast and wide open views are everywhere.
After leaving the chilled laid back atmosphere of Byron Bay we continue down the coast, with the intention of staying at Coff's Harbour, but we pass it by as all the houses appear to have been built by the same man who has a big oversized cut-outs of himself at various points along the highway like some overly happy dictator. We end up in Sawtell, a small town the looks like the kind of place folk go to retire. They have a small strech of beach, but even this has an enormous bay just past a small bank of rocks. The darkness falls at 6pm and I cook.
Barbequing on the campsites we stay on isn't quite what I had imagined. There is no charcoal pit and I've yet to see a disposable bbq to buy to put up on bricks. Instead each site has bbq stations, with metal hot plates that can be activated where food can be cooked. It's very conveinient but technically frying, not bbqing, but still pleasant to do it outdoors.

We spend Wednesday on the road making our way down the pacific highway that stretches hundreds of miles all the way from Brisbane to Melbourne. I fancy a bit of swimming and we take a diversion to the amusingly named Banana Beach but it's a bit vicious. The waves are big here and so are the undercurrents. Slowly getting used to just how early it gets dark, we park up at Belmont Bayview, Bron gets some fruit and I get a pizza from Eagle Boys Pizza Co. My favorite named chain store here was briefly 'Liquorland' but that was quickly overruled when I saw 'Dan Murphy's Low Price Liquor'. It sounds a bit cheesy if you've not seen the Brand logo, but looks quite highbrow. The logo is silhouette of a man, like the colonel from KFC but bald and a lot sterner, deep as if deep in thought and rendered in black, orange and green. I imaginge he'd have the voice of a newsreader like Kent Brockman from the simpsons,saying something like "Hi, I'm Dan Murphy and I want to make sure you get drunk tonight". Thanks Dan Murphy. I love you Dan Murphy.

Thursday gets exciting. We're off to Palm Beach. No maybe's, Bron knows exactly where it is and no sooner have I parked the van and she's off down the beach like a woman possessed. This is where they film Home and Away. It's just a beach to be honest and for a while I think it's the wrong place, but then we see some tell tale signs and even I recognise the lighthouse from the opening credits when I see it. We get ice cream at the shop, unfortunately Alf is not here to sell it to us. The camp site we find is also a nature reserve, which is cool, and we arrive in time to get the train into Sydney to look around.


Sydney feels like London, pretty intense and busy. Not realising by getting the train we actually went over Sydney Harbour bridge looking down onto the Opera house. It's funny how Newcastle back home mirrors Sydney with its similar style bridge and opera house. We wander Sydney and find ourselves at the opera house in time to hear the second half of an afternoon concert, which can be heard and seen on a tv screen from the foyer of building. We sit and listen for what must have been over half an hour to big broad rich rousing music, I like a bit of classical but I've never had the fortune of listening to a full orchestra live, it was pretty stunning. Then it finished, and a sea of silver haired senior citizens came pouring out of the building and onto a convoy of waiting buses. I bought some sausages for the barby.

John Cooper
Comedian & artist.
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