Byron Bay to Maclean
Distance Travelled - 174.7 km
Woke up periodically throughout the night as I slept in the car which was not overly comfortable. Byron Bay is not particularly tourist friendly in some regards. Very expensive parking ($4 an hour to park at the main beach and just about anywhere else in town), very little parking at major touristy spots -there are at total of 29 car parking spaces within 1 km of the lighthouse that attracts 1500 visitors a day. 21 of those at the lighthouse proper costs you $7 and the other 8, 500 m away cost you $4 an hour. It was pandemonium trying to find somewhere to park to access the lighthouse this morning.
After the alarm went off at 5.30 am I woke from where I had parked in a side street out of the town proper. The main car parks in town like at the beach etc are closed from 1 am to 5 am or 6 am depending on where they are, making it hard to find somewhere to sleep overnight. Drove up to the lighthouse and did some sunrise photography before heading off around 7 am to sort breakfast and food for the next day or so.
Found the local farmers market and bought some fresh bananas and apples and a coffee before wandering the streets to look at shops and the beach in the post sunrise glow. Spent some time on the beach chilling out before going to the info centre, banks, post office and the like when they opened. Headed back to the lighthouse to grab a few things from the shop. Took 20 minutes to find somewhere to park (double parked a guy in who said he was going to be at the lighthouse for some time so my quick in and out would be fine) and 10 minutes to walk up, get the stuff and walk back.
Left Byron Bay and headed towards Ballina where the next lighthouse was. Got to Lighthouse Beach to find the beach closed, the Westpac Helicopter flying overhead and several lifeguards patrolling the water on jet skis and in boats. Took the photos of the lighthouse and as I headed off heard that a guy body boarding at that beach this morning got bitten by a shark around 10 am, about 2 hours before I got there.
Left Ballina and headed to Yamba where the next lighthouse was. Found that ok and discovered that the town made a replica of the original one not far from the present one (which by the way is still over 100 years old). The replica now is home to the local community radio station. Took photos of both and then headed towards Maclean for the nights camping. Stopped at a Coles on the way to grab some meat and veges for tea and continued on to camp.
Found the showgrounds and settled in, cooking tea before it got dark and then did a bit of early evening photography of the river and bridge nearby. Whilst doing the photography was invited to sit with a group of 'recycled teenagers' as they call themselves, everyone else uses the name Grey Nomads. Sat and chatted with them around their small fire and gradually a few others joined. Got speaking to one other person about my age from Germany. She is quite into photography and is travelling up the coast with lighthouse photography one of her interests. We swapped some info and ideas and afterwards discussed photography techniques which was beneficial for us both.
Following that, wrote my blog, sorted photos and got ready for bed. Although it is windy and a little on the cold side tonight it will be nice to stretch out in the tent rather than be sleeping in the car. Tomorrow I head towards Coffs Harbour and South West Rocks and the lighthouses there.