Nice day. We left Byron via Broken Head Road, which was nice enough ride. Broken Head Road turns into the Coast Road, passes through Lennox Head (filled bottles at the park tap) and pedalled up the Pat Morton Lookout to watch the hang gliders. Worth the uphill for the view. Followed the Coast Road through Ballina (careful on the narrow bridges) and use that bike path! Google Maps told us Smith street crosses the creek just south of Ballina, but don’t listen to Google Maps… It doesn’t! Take River Street to the highway here, endure those trucks for half a second, and take the first left after the bridge, onto Pimlico Road. Beautiful, flat, non-marked road takes you through Wardell (blink and you’ll miss it – no food here but look for the tap next to the cafe on the right), spits you out on the highway. This stretch of highway is really nasty – no shoulder and roaring trucks. We took a break at the cafe in Broadwater – look for a church with a big Cafe sign in front (GREAT fruit shakes). Thankfully Evens Head/Broadwater Road is an approaching left, and is another nice road with respectful drivers. We stopped in Evans Head for the night.
We passed some silly things on the road today: A hang gliding hang-out and a huge shrimp. We’re starting a BIG THINGS collection.
After the splurge of hostelling we did in Byron and Nimbin we decided to utilize that camping gear. Undaunted by cloudy skies we found a nice little caravan park, set up our tent, and went to explore the happin’ town of Evens Head. Ha. Just as we were leaving the single grocery store the swirling clouds reached overhead and the calm before the storm gave way to pure storm. Rain sprinkled for just long enough for us to race with our groceries back to the campground. Just as we reached the kitchen the sky opened and it suddenly it POURED! Fat droplets pounded and strong winds whipped tree branches and untied caravan shelters. We cowered in the kitchen and thought about our little tent, hiding under a massive tree. Lightening flashed all around us, no “mississippies” between the flashes and the booms. Will our tent attract a flash? Will the flimsy fly stand up to the winds? We cooked our dinner and crossed our fingers. Before the pasta reached aldente the storm passed.
Shaun ran out to retrieve his raincoat and bowls. The tent withstood the gale! Only minor leakages. We took a walk to survey the damages in the rest of the town. Most caravans were okay, some with minor wind-blown debris stuck on poles or pegs, but some had major branches down or rain shelters ripped off their fasteners.
Post-storm survey complete, we retired to the campground kitchen. Rumours of another storm, a bigger one, circulated the dining elders. We hunkered down with tea and books to wait it out. A storm of a different kind ploughed into the kitchen before the lightening, in the form of a huge family group. One mom kept repeating, “We just bought a house! A HOUSE! Everything is going to be Okay! Everything is going to be okay!” She told every person who walked into the place “We saved 100,000 dollars! 100,000! Everything’s going to be Okay!” Her three kids walked in, followed by another family. “We’re going to get all new furniture – new bed for you, new couch, everything!” She laughs and cries, talking really loudly to everybody. Into the phone she says, “Hi mom, we just bought the house! Yes! 100,000 dollars cheaper than we thought! drinking? No, I mean I’ve had one or two, but I’m not drunk, but we bought the HOUSE mom! Yea, okay, I’ll call later”. Her husband skateboards into the kitchen with a bag of sausages and bread. He sets this on the counter and kisses his lady. She says to nobody and everybody, “See. This Bret. He’s the best. I don’t deserve this. I’m so happy you’re here, look at this holiday! You’re husband material, you are Bret.” This continued for two cups of tea. The little girl gets up and starts cooking the sausages – her smaller brothers’ complaints of hunger go totally unnoticed by the adults. The mom is now explaining to everybody “See, the storm came while we were in the pub, me and Bret, and little Jacob was all alone in the tent but it got blown away – he ran all the way to the pub to get us – without his shirt! poor kid! but everything’s okay because we bought the house!” The little kid is proud. He looks about five. The adults pour more drinks and the small kids start running around. We brave the rain to retire to our tent, having heard enough.
The lightening comes later in the night. Flashes and booms come from just south, so we decide to watch. Lightening hits all around the cape to the south and out to sea, each flash reversing the dark water and white wave crests to reflecting water and dark froth. It’s totally magical. We see thousands of apparitions in the light tricks. Ghosts wander the surf. Dogs howl. A headlamp glimmers in the distance, searching for something on the jetty. That’s it for us – it’s totally the lady whose memorial we passed earlier in the day. Washed out to sea during a storm and revisiting the taking site now! We run terrified back to the tent and sleep quite soundly, branches whispering and little rain splattering.