Plot twist: Byron Bay isn’t quite like it looks in the Inbetweeners film. I’m not sure where all the actual hippies of the East coast of Oz live, but it’s definitely not in Byron.
As the first stop of our East Coast adventure and pretty much the only place either me or Natasha had heard of besides Sydney, there was a certain pressure on Byron Bay to live up to its hippie stereotype. But what was actually there was the world’s most cliquey surfer town, where pale anti-surfer types like us were not allowed. Don’t get me wrong, we tried the whole surfer babe thing, but after approximately five milli-seconds in the water and a jellyfish sting for Natasha, we decided it just wasn’t for us.
What I will say for surfers is that they’ve got some intense core muscles. Carrying that surfboard back up to the hostel made me feel like I was baring my own cross, Jesus style. It was hot, heavy, and I even had a weird crazy breakdown when the sand started burning my feet. So then, naturally, I wimped out and made Natasha carry my surfboard for me. As you do…
Despite all the strange looks we got for being pale and nerdy looking, and not having a clue about ‘catching waves, maaaaan’, I thought Byron Bay was pretty cute. It could have been the three fro-yos in as many days, but I like to think the chill vibe and the pokey little shops had something to do with it.
Surfers Paradise, the next stop on the classic East Coast tour, was certainly not Paradise. I’m not exactly a glamazonian, but I’m pretty sure our hostel was a step above hell. I mean, we were staying in a hostel where the logo was a guy with a massive boner. I kid you not. As well as that treat, there were 8 beds crammed into a room the size of my utility room at home, and two pathetic fans that I’m pretty sure only chilled the corner of the room with no beds in. Just when I thought life couldn’t get any more traumatic, I opened my eyes one night to see a gekko just chillin’ above my bed. Casual. Yep, I was pretty glad when it was time to move on from Surfers Paradise to the next stop.
Despite supposedly being in paradise, there wasn’t actually a whole lot to do in Surfers Paradise. It was a cool place, with skyscrapers lining the beach, but it sort of reminded me of the obligatory cheap drinking holiday you take in your teens – lots of clubs, tourist shops, and late night kebab shops, but not a whole lot else. So what did me and Natasha do for two days there? Theme parks, because we are that cultural. We spent a day at Wet ‘n’ Wild and a day at MovieWorld, whilst trying to kid ourselves that theme parks and water parks only exist down under, so we were being cultural AF.
Being an obsessive ride walk through fan, I was pretty excited for adventures down under, but it turns out riding massive water slides in a tiny bikini is basically a disaster waiting to happen. Sat on a rubber ring at the top of a slide, my bikini bottoms decided to attach themselves to the mechanics of the slide, meaning that as the slide guy tried to push me down, I could hear a nice, fresh, ripping sound as my cheap bottoms gave way. The guy, not hearing my protests, kept trying to push me down as the ripping intensified. Eventually he got the message, but I ended the ride with a massive wedgie and a heavy dose of humiliation. All good fun. And the day even ended with a nice trip to the first aid tent, after I came loose from the board I was sliding down a slide on and cut my arm. With blood streaming everywhere, I was pretty sure I was going to need airlifting to the nearest hospital, but luckily the nurse on site was able to save me with a, um, plaster. #neardeathexperience #almostdied
I was also very excited, at MovieWorld, to try my first virtual reality rollercoaster. For anyone that isn’t a crazy rollercoaster obsessive, this is when you ride a rollercoaster with a headset on that shows you a film whilst the ride goes. Natasha had decided to sit this one out, so I queued up excitedly, only to find out that there was a delay because someone had thrown up on the ride before mine. Which filled me with confidence, obviously. The headset was the strangest thing as it completely separates you from the ‘real world’, so you have no idea whereabouts you are on the rollercoaster or when the drops are about to come. The ride might have been called the ‘Arkham Asylum’, but I’m pretty sure I looked fully nuts as I kept grabbing the random girl next to me and screaming ‘are you still there!?’, as well as giving her constant updates on the headset story. Making native Australian friends wherever I go…
Overall? I’d give Byron Bay a solid 6/10 and Surfers a 3/10. But I feel like, had I been a supremo surfer, those scores could easily have been 10/10. Maybe one day..