Sunday, 10 June 2012

Coffs Harbour

Have the beach to myself
Coffs Harbour has been my Australian home for the last two months, and in two days we’re leaving.  I’m ready to go, don’t get me wrong, I’m looking forward to being back on the road, seeing the next place and starting the next part of our trip, but a part of me will miss it here. We've spent so long here and have a little hostel family where we feel at home. It’s safe to say Coffs has treated me well.

You may be wondering why we decided to stay so here long. Truth is we never really made a concerted effort to stay here for two months; it just kind of ended up that way. Our first night here was kind of a giveaway that we were going to like it and stay longer than the two nights we had originally booked though.
So our Coffs home is Aussitel Backpackers. We arrived on the evening of Easter Saturday, and an hour later there was a BBQ going. We sat down got chatting to a group, had some beers and felt so welcomed straight away. After the BBQ was finished so were the 6 beers we had figured would be sufficient for the night. But everyone in the hostel was in party mode and it was contagious. We decided to walk to the bottle shop (off license) but as we got to the driveway we were kidnapped by a group of six drunken backpackers we’d been chatting to at the BBQ. Seriously we were pretty much forced in the “Maxi Taxi” and coerced into town to a club. There was Alex (French), Charlotte (German), David (Canadian), Aki (Japanese), Alisha and David no. 2 (Australian) and me and Leigh (the Irish), who were for the rest of the night known only by our country names. We arrived at the club where we (and two others) were refused entry. We’d just come from Thailand where flip flops are the only footwear to be seen, but in Australia you gotta have closed shoes to get into clubs…who knew! Also we had no ID, and were dressed super casually, after all we were just drinking beer in the hostel when we got kidnapped.  But the whole gang just left the club and walked down to the next place and told the bouncer straight of the bat, these guys don’t have ID, or proper shoes, but  we’re all together and are gonna spend money on beer, and they were really sound about it and let us in. We ended up having a great night dancing away and everyone ended up swapping shoes at some point. Random, but extremely fun.
New friends, AKA our kidnappers
The next few days were spent with our new friends, making the most of the hostels facilities. The best part of Aussitel is that there are two free activities every day, so on a Saturday you could go canoeing on the creek during the day and then had a BBQ in the evening and on Sunday go Body Boarding during the day and do a table quiz that night. We got a little gang going and took turns cooking dinner for each other and drinking beer and doing beach activities. After two weeks we still weren’t ready to leave so we took up cleaning jobs in the hostel where you work for an hour or so a day and get free accommodation. I was on bedroom duty and Leigh on bathrooms. Leigh drew the short straw (well the metaphorical short straw, they prefer girls to clean the bedrooms as there are girls only dorms), but they were both handy numbers, and meant we stopped haemorrhaging money on rent, and our days were free from 11am each day.

Sea Kayaking (we're the ones in the air on the right!)

Most days in Coffs are spent body boarding on the beach, canoeing on the creek, kayaking in the sea, walking around the harbour, eating copious amounts of coffee and cake that’s on special offer at the local ice cream shop and playing heaps of Shithead (a backpacker card game).
We got two weeks work in a coffee shop in the middle of our stay that didn’t last too long because winter slowed things down, but it did buy us our car, The Silver Fox, a super classy 1988 Nissan Skyline. In fact it bought me my first car! I’m so excited to have a car, and to be heading out on our first road trip in Foxy in a few days.
The Silver Fox himself

 I think a Coffs blog was so late coming because I’ve gotten comfy and settled down. I guess I figured that there wasn’t much to report on as I kind of got into a routine and wasn’t moving from place to place every few days like when I was in Thailand. I thought it wasn’t “blog worthy” I guess.  However, Leigh’s cousin Conor pointed out to me the other day that doing nothing in Australia is still more exciting than my previous doing nothing in Dublin. It got me thinking and I realised he was dead right. Learning to sea kayak on a random Tuesday morning was more fun and exciting than sitting at my desk in work. And swimming with wild dolphins on a random Saturday (ok that was just today and just the once!) was a bit cooler than walking around Dundrum avoiding the rain at home. So while the last few weeks haven’t been as go go go and exciting as backpacking around Asia, it has been a blast, and it’s been really nice to feel so comfortable and happy in a little home away from home. I’ve learnt some new skills and made a few friends I’m sure I’ll have in my life for a long time to come.
I’ve done a sky dive, learnt to body board, did some canoeing, tried paddle boarding, discovered a love for the adrenaline rush of sea kayaking, cycled more that I have since I was ten, developed a tea and biscuit addiction, made new friends, eaten more Eggy-Bread than ever before in my life, started calling French-Toast Eggy-Bread, learned that I’m good at Scrabble, rediscovered my love for jigsaws, swam with dolphins, spent hours reading in hammocks, become a pro hooverer,  learnt to make coffee with a professional coffee machine, played a ridiculous amount of cards and bought my first car.
Aussitel I’ll be seeing you again.
So here are loads of photos that’ll show you what briefly what I’ve been up to for the last while.

A night out

View of Coffs from Muttonbird Island

Under the jetty

One of my new dolphin friends

Leigh's surf lesson

Leigh and Aki

Charlotte cooking us dinner...AGAIN!

Sundowners on Park Beach

Road trippin'

Road trippin' to Port Macquarie for job interviews

Beach football

One of many beach bonfires

Deep in  jigsaw concentration 

We finally finished!

Another day at the beach

Muttonbird Island

Pretty walk

So windy!


Driving the parachute

PJ playing with the Big Banana 

The Big Banana, one of the few tourist attractions in Coffs....I can't explain!

Group dinner!

View Point

Hello! *waves*

Spot the tourists!

Ah The Clog Barn, best crepes in town!

Leigh playing football manager with a cup of coffee, all's right in the world.

Paddle boarding

Riding the waves

A spot on canoeing on the creek. I felt like Joey Potter!

Going for a swim

1, 2, 3 JUMP!

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