Well, I have arrived at my hostel in the legendary Byron Bay and I feel like I have stepped back into the late 1960s, with the smell of weed and BO in the air, gender-unspecific people with long locks, and the drone of both the didgeridoo and the various soliloquies from time-worn travellers entering my ears. However, it is the 1960s with a dazzling slice of glamorous modern-day shot through it: gaggles of long-limbed, bronzed girls cut heavy-perfumed paths through the dread-locks and cheesecloth, and dub-step mingles with psychadelic guitar and folky strummings amongst the different ipods. It’s probably quite a good microcosm to represent Byron itself actually.
This is Byron Bay’s original hippy hostel, the Arts Factory Lodge, and I felt I ought to experience it. My heart sank rather on the approach, as I followed one of the aforementioned groups of girls dressed in ‘couture-casual’ (e.g. pre-distressed flip-flops and expensively frayed denim micro-shorts) who were agreeing it was time to start drinking now (it was 4:30pm) – I sighed inwardly, hoping they weren’t to be my dorm-fellows. However, it’s hard not to like this place – it has an undeniable character and charm. This is a place where you can volunteer in the eco-garden for a free breakfast, learn reiki, undergo crystal healing and have your palm read. There’s free yoga, meditation and live music everyday (in fact I’m just about to go and watch ‘Cockatoo Paul’ single-handedly and simultaneously play didgeridoo, guitar, vocals and drums in the bar), and there’s even an outing tomorrow to ‘heal the land’ on a nearby beach through music and dance – errr…hello? And so I find myself being drawn in, despite myself.
Also, it helps that the lodge is set within a swamp national park and my own dorm is within a lakeside villa. After I arrived I went and sat by the water, watching the endearingly ugly bush turkeys scratch in the dirt (I’ll get a photo of these tomorrow). Even better, with the onset of dusk my eyes were drawn upwards by, literally (I think), thousands of fruit bats all setting off from their roosts for a night’s foraging. An unbelievable sight – you can just make out the black specks in the photo below.
I am very much looking forward to exploring Byron tomorrow, although there is so much going on at the hostel itself that it might be difficult to get away. Unfortunately eco-gardening and yoga clash so I’ll have to decide where my priorities lie in the morning. However, the fact I have a tender, lightly swollen tricep at the moment might preclude yoga for a day or two. I spectacularly slipped in the shower this morning – it happened so fast and suddenly I was sat on my bum in the bath, speechless. It took a few moments to come out of the initial shock and then I strangely got the giggles (nervous reaction?!). I don’t bruise easily but an alarmingly large portion of my upper arm is going blue already so I think this is going to be an absolute corker – obviously a photo will be forthcoming if it is blog-worthy!
Anyway, I can hear Cockatoo Paul starting; the didge beckons, man (I am sure I’m not the first person to utter that phrase here)…