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Yellow Springs in Oz

November 30, 2009

After booking my hostel with Wicked Travel, I have now gained access to free internet in Australia. I didn’t think it existed, but her I am, typing away without that pesky 1 dollar every 15 minute restriction so many places insist on.

Byron Bay, where I have been for the last couple of days, so such a wonderful little town. It’s so much like Yellow Springs, it’s a little scary. Basically this is what Yellow Springs would look like if it had tourists and revenue. Everyday has been spent tangled in small adventures and lazing about in various places (beaches, trees, benches, the likes) reading Hell’s Angels by none other than the wonderful Hunter S.

Last night I proved my theory about backpackers versus locals fairly well by going to a well-occupied pub right next to the bus stop. A band called Thrillbilly Stomp was fiddling up a storm when I arrived, and I decided that a night of bluegrass might be just the sort of thing I needed after the failed punk show I was promised, but never happened the previous night (although the band that did play wasn’t bad and the show was free, so really it turned out well). After doing my usual lap around the pub to make sure I know where all the doors go and where what sort of people seem to be gathering, I ordered a Cooper’s Dark (holy crap it’s delicious) and perched atop a bench just to the left of the stage, under a streetlamp to drink and read.

I don’t usually get along with a lot of backpackers in pubs. They tend to be too loud, too over-excited, and too eagar to score to have interesting things to say or make me want to meet them. Some are okay, clearly, because I have met some really nice, interesting, complex people during my short stints of travelling about, but on the whole, I’m less than impressed. So I have resigned myself to sitting perched on that bench for a few hours, reading my book, and going to bed early so as to wake up, take a stroll a few kilometers away, and watch the sunrise over the lighthouse (also, the most eastern part of the Australian mainland).

But within a half an hour, a man had come over to ask what I was reading. He was fairly drunk, but had a very nice smile on his face, so I replied and we started chatting. His name was Pete and he grew up in Manly Beach, but moved to Byron Bay 24 years ago (something I was reminded of again and again as he drunkenly staggered through a conversation). He was also an avid Western reader and prided himself on his ability to name all of the American states and capitals (although he forgot Deleware). He told me about his kids and his travelling, but mostly about Westerns and his kids. I also met a friend of his from Brooklyn who was wearing an OSU Buckeyes hat, and another man named Mickey, whole lived in Melbourne for 44 years before moving to Byron Bay and also worked in the Hog’s Breath Cafe as a cleaner ago.

Eventually the other stumbled away, leaving Mickey and I to chat, and it was such a pleasent conversation. We talked about the Aboriginal situation in Australia in terms of still striving for that balance between sensitivity and over-compensation, the advantages of travelling and those of staying in one place, how he is finally going to buy a camper van and see the rest of Australia (he’s never been West or North, only South and East), and other such nice conversation pieces.

Round about midnight, I said good night to him, and went to the beach to watch the night time waves tumble about before deciding that bed time was now. My campsite was filled with partying backpackers and schoolies kids blasting music until 5 am, so waking up early for a hike was no longer the plan. But I did make it up to the light house and can now say that I have been to the most eastern point on the Australian mainland.

Next stop is Sydeny.

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