December 26

We went to Byron Bay. Barbara tried to book a trip to Fraser Island, but it didn’t work out. The beach was fantastic:

We walked down to the beach and saw the lighthouse in the distance - “20 minutes”, said Barbara. I said it was going to be longer, but to be honest I didn’t expect it to take an entire hour as it did. On the plus side, the views were fantastic and I saw my first wallaby (a small kangaroo).

Later on we went to visit Rachel, a friend of Barbara. We were over two hours late, but she was cool about it. She was staying up in the hills above Byron Bay in an absolutely fantastic house that used to belong to the jazz singer Grace Knight. The house was aptly named Grace House. It’s encompassed by the forest, and we sat on the covered patio for hours, drinking beer, listening to the crickets, and watching the heavy rain come down. And listening to some Grace Knight. Here’s an example .

December 25

Pretty boring day. We drove until the outskirts of Byron Bay and camped in a large RV park.

December 24

There was some commotion during the night. In the morning we spoke to the Germans again - the ranger had come in the night and given them a fine for the dog and the fire, and kicked them out because of the dog. One of them apparently spent the night somewhere else with the dog. They were back with the dog, but hadn’t started another fire yet.

We had bacon and eggs, and went to a place called Seal Rocks. There were rocks there, but we saw no seals. Nothing very interesting happened after that - we drove to Macksville where we camped near Warrell Creek, a small river with shark warning signs. We saw some other people in the river so we went in too. Nothing happened. Barbara drives very fast on paved roads, but somehow her courage disappears immediately as soon as unpaved roads start. I have no idea why. I tried to encourage her to go faster, to no avail.

December 23

Breakfast with an Austrian friend of Barbara who brought some homemade cookies of his mother. Excellent cookies. We finally got started at noon - here’s Barbara’s mighty machine:

We drove up to some national park, where we camped. At the campsite we met some Germans who had a campfire and a dog just in front of the “no campfires” and “no dogs” sign. The night before they had been kicked out of another national park for having a dog. We used the public barbecue to make some steaks and potatoes. It was a pretty nice evening.

December 22

Arrived in Sydney, where Barbara picked me up at the airport. I spent the day looking at the standard Sydney sights - later we had dinner in Newtown near Barbara’s place.

I like the large parks in Sydney - pretty walkable and with some nice trees and birds, but horrible Christmas decorations.