Wednesday 21st March
A very exciting day today! We were going to try paddleboarding with Byron Standup Paddleboarding – or Byron SUP!
We’d arranged to meet Ricky, our guide, at the location just north of Byron in the Brunswick Heads nature reserve at 8.30, and amazingly it wasn’t raining! Surely a first?
Ricky introduced us to his dog Bobby and gave us a run through of how to paddleboard before we waded out into the water and climbed onto the boards into a kneeling position. The next trick is to get from kneeling to standing, so putting the paddle across the front of the board and staring straight ahead we tried to get vertical… and both made it!
It took about 10 minutes of gently pottering around before i stopped wobbling, but keeping the focus in front, the knees bent and moving forward all helped get my paddleboard legs into gear. Then we were off, up the creek on what was, thankfully, really calm water. We paddled up gradually narrowing streams, while Ricky talked us through some of the birds we saw and even showed us a crab net with giant tasty crabs, while Bobby the dog, who balances on the front of RIcky’s board jumped in to swim.
The creek is normally crystal clear but because of the tons of rain, it was quite brown and wanting to take a closer look i took a spectacular tumble backwards into it… note to self… if you wobble and take a step back the front of the board will come up and eventually you will be running backwards off the board. The river water had a distinctive taste of dirt and cow poo which was nice…
Back on my board – Bobby the dog took a couple of trips on the front of our boards as we paddled back towards the starting point. We saw a couple of white chested eagles dipping into the water so paddled closer to get a look. It’s much easier than i thought (unless you run backwards which is bad) and definitely something I want to do again.
We headed back to the house for a quick shower and a change before heading out to a spot several people had recommended for lunch. It’s called The Farm, and is run by the guys who set up the restaurant The Blue Ducks in Sydney. It’s a lovely setting outside of Byron and is a small farm and restaurant combo. We had a super healthy lunch of fresh salads and Wayne tried the pork chop which looked seriously yum.
We took a wander round the farm to see the livestock and to try our hands at picking and cracking macadamia nuts which they seemed to have a huge surplus off. It’s a lovely place and a really nice setting for a great lunch.
That evening we had another of our “well I’ve never done that, so why not?” trips with Wendy from Vision Walks Eco Tours – which was a walk through the rain forest wearing night vision goggles! I mean really – when do you get the chance to try night vision goggles?
Wendy picked us up and we drove to a rainforest south of Brisbane, she then got us kitted up with the night vision goggles, which have a full head harness as they are so heavy. It’s a really odd feeling – try using normal binoculars and walking round, it’s a really similar tunnel vision, particularly as you have to keep a hand on the focus to change between short and long focus.
Having sort of got use to the goggles staggering around the car park, and trying not to look at each other because a whole person shines like a beacon through the darn things, we set off along the path into the forest. We were trying to be really quite, and not bump into anything while switching between focusing on the person in front, then switching to deep into the forest – we heard some crashing and tried to get a glimpse of the pademelon (like a very small wallaby) that Wendy pointed out.
We had better luck with a ringed tail possum that was sniffing around the path before it swung itself into the trees and disappeared. Right in the middle of the forest we took off our night vision goggles, and couldn’t believe how dark it was. I really couldn’t see anything, until Wendy pointed out a faint glow at ground level – which apparently is the glow of a phosphorescent mushroom, which she called the fairy lights.
We finished up with a hot chocolate back at the car, while a group of possums shook the trees all around us. It’s a great way to get close to the animals but I’ve no idea how they see so well in the dark.