happnin' Byron Bay and Sydney, Australia - friendly hippies, familiar city

Yolanda’s bit
Last stop was Byron Bay and that was great fun. It was a small hippyish town with a nice beach. We hardly left the "Arts Factory" where we were camping. The camping area was like a little forest. In the main building there was a bar, pools, a fireplace, lots of sofas, it was always packed. Just outside there was an area with lots of activities going on at all times of day and night. Juggling, playing drums and digeridoo (where I took my first class. I was awful) and making them, massage.

There was an open air kitchen area in the middle of the camping site with fairy tale dinning area, great socializing spot. There was a beautiful vegetarian restaurant and a cinema. They put a few movies everyday and instead of seats there were futons on the floor and cushions all dressed in cow's skin. Every night there was something on. Live music, music contests, party! Great crowd, good music, fire dancing ( a bit like small Glastonbury in Australia is an easy comparison). People were really friendly and we spent there more than planned.

And there we were in King's Cross, Sydney, very much like King's Cross, London. Trying to get in touch with my friend Craig who would put us up at his place for a few days. We were living with Craig, his girlfriend Jodie and little two years' old Jai which was a bit strange but fun. Jai, crazy and super happy kid, was everywhere. We went out all together a couple of times and we also watched lots of TV. It was really nice to be at a home and made feel like so.
We went out drinking with a friend of Miles' and all his friends and that was fun too. During the day we had a look at the city, always ending up at the beautiful Harbor.
Took a boat around the harbor, went to watch Le Cirque du Soleil at the biggest iMax in the world which was fantastic and had the good luck to see the Art Biennale of Sydney. Really good stuff, impressed.

On the last Sunday there was the City to Bondi Beach (where we were staying) marathon and Craig was running it. The area was throbbing with people and everyone was getting drunk after the run finished. It was a fine happy day. Jodie set up a boot sale at the door of the house and we were hanging around. Before leaving, we made a little video of Jai to send to his dad in England.

Miles’s bit
Byron Bay is a very hippy surfers town, with a great beach, plenty of cool cafes and a fantastic place called the Arts Factory, what you might call an "Alternative" backpacker hangout. We camped in their campground but their accommodation was great - Teepees, Double-decker busses and the like. There was loads going on (even in the winter), daytime workshops for Digeridoos, massage classes, parties in the evenings. They even had a (quite expensive) veg restaurant and a cool cinema with furry futon seating. We started making friends easily and after a few days found it difficult to leave (we met one guy who had only planned to visit for 2 weeks, that was 8 years ago and he's still there!!!)

Sydney We found our way across the city and caught a train out to Bondi Beach (just a few km east of the city center) and were met by Jodie and Jai (friends). They took us back to their flat where we stayed for about a week. It was great to be in a proper bed again after the weeks of camping on hard ground with no mats (many aches and pains). Jodie and Craig were great hosts (though we didn't see that much of them) and we spent our time exploring Sidney a bit. I decided I quite liked Sidney and if I had to live and work in another city other than London I think it might be here. Its quite a modern metropolis and has a certain feel of London in places.

Although it was winter and it was mostly cold there were some fine days and we got around the city a bit. We visited loads of galleries (there was contemporary festival on of some sort), and also an iMax showing a Cirque du Soleil. We went all over the harbor and had some spectacular sunsets.

At the end of our stay we bade farewell and set off for the airport....