Oz post 18 – 30th September 15.41

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Oz post 18 – 30th September 15.41

Well I’m on the train headed for byron bay, having left the peaceful climbs of the surfaris retreat and said my goodbyes to the gang. I have well and truly rejoined the real world! 6 hour journey on train then bus. As I got on so did a single mum and her two most badly behaved children I have come across- and I worked in Coventry camhs so that’s saying something! Of course they’re sat right behind me, banging the seat and running up and down the aisle so I’ve had my music on top volume trying to drown the terrors out. Was working fairly well until I was rudely awoken when one threw a rugby ball in my face. Little shit. Woke up with a start, managing to not swear, just! Not like the kid himself who said the ‘F-bomb’ earlier in the trip. Nice. Classy. He’s like 4. So mum is very apologetic and blaming him for being so naughty ‘i yell at him all the time’, hmm there lies the problem??! Someone needs a visit from supernanny, and she reeeeally needs to take that goddamn ball off him. Grrr! Sounds like they’re getting off before me, fingers crossed it’s soon. 

So anyway, my jolt to reality is a real shock and sign of what a great time I’ve had for the past few days. Tuesday we head back to crescent head (and yes we did all get up at 5.30!!) and were in the water by 7am. Beautiful empty beach, beautiful blue skies, fabulous waves for us beginners. After catching a few rides it was time for a rest then head back to base about 11 for bucket loads of sandwiches. After an afternoon’s chilling we head back out to crescent head to catch the last waves of the afternoon, and soon lost the sunshine. The rain came and a darkness fell across the beach. Suddenly lighting was striking into the sea in the distance, so whizzing into shore on the next wave we called it a day and missioned it back along the beach, over the stream, carrying our boards 2-by-2 we went. Hot showers back home were a must, followed by a good hearty portion (and seconds!) of home made spag bol. Shelly strikes again, delicious!! So another evening came and went, spent chatting round the camp fire making smores (toasted marshmallows squished between two biscuits with pieces of chocolate in the middle, mmmmm! As good and sickly as they sound!) and drinking a few beers. Another early night, this time the most hard core of us made it until 9.20. Rock on! My dorm mates had snuck to bed a little earlier so I got ready by iPhone light. Was going fairly well until I actually tried to get into bed (having attempted to check it for spiders before going to brush my teeth!) I came back and wriggled in. But this heavy lump was stopping my feet going any further. I think oh I must have left my toiletries bag or something on there, so I reach out to move it and my hand touches something furry and warm. I shriek! The other girls wake. And then I realise it’s only bruce the cat, who must have crept in unawares while I was in the bathroom! Scared the life out of me. I’m pretty hypervigilant at bed time due to my arachnophobia anyway! So as the cat’s not allowed in the dorms I have to pick poor old Bruce up, who thinks I’m gig in for a cuddle so starts purring manically then as I cruelly rip him from his cozy sleeping spot he twigs where he’s going he starts squirming manically! So feeling pretty mean I get back into (my now nice and warm!) bed, but soon fall into a deep sleep (or surf coma if you will!) until Ross bangs on the door at 5am. Quick brekkie then grab our still wet wetsuits (boo!) and head out to catch the surf. This morning we head for point plomber, a bit further, but you gotta go where the surf is! We stop at a couple of points en route to check out the surf, and I of course grab my camera to get a few shots. Suddenly someone spies a pod of dolphins playing around in the waves. Transfixed we watch them jumping around, though alas they were too quick for me and my camera. But amazing to see :-)

Also en route several wallabies cross the road in front of us, and catch a kangaroo catching some rays, chilling by the side of the road. Less surfari more safari today! And actually the waves were pretty poor for surfing, so another highlight after freezing our butts off in the wind, sat on our boards waiting for the odd wave in what was otherwise similar to a giant lake, was going for a walk up to the headland, where another eagle-eye among us spotted some whales. Awesome! We eagerly watched for a few more glimpses and were rewarded with some tail flicks and airhole spurts. Great Ozzie safari! 

We returned to base for lunch and further chilling in the afternoon, soaking up some sun (or shade in my case) trying to get warm again after our cold and rather disappointing morning (surf wise anyway!). After rallying the hard to rally troops, Ross and davey take us back to crescent head for the afternoon, keeping all our fingers and toes crossed for better surf. The wind is blustering, the sun is nowhere to be seen. We get to the beach and Ross declares us hardcore surfers now! Wendy was sensible and opted to watch from the sidelines, which was great because it meant she could be our trip photographer for the afternoon and got some great action shots (me mainly falling off, but at least with a big grin on my face!) We head back to the bus just in time before darkness falls, and it transpires my face is bleeding (well it was pretty rough out, particularly getting caught in a rip that resembled being in a washing machine!) but only a teeny scratch and couldn’t feel it at all, but still secretly pleased to have a little mark of my hard core surfness! 

So back to base we go and shelly has done it yet again as we feast on a trough of sausage and vegetable stew with crunchy noodles. Mmmm, I shall miss this home cooking and fresh vegetables when I leave tomorrow. They all tried to convince me to stay with them till Friday and travel to Byron on the bus with them. Very tempted. But did want to have some time in Byron and couldn’t pass up the opportunity of meeting cath in Byron and driving up to brisbane together, enabling her to show me some of the best sights herself, as the gold coast us apparently one of her favourite areas. 

So my last evening came and went, I packed my bag, and went to sleep to visions of rolling waves. We had a long lie in this morning. 6.30 wake up call! But had a real treat for breakfast with ross’s homemade coconut pancakes. Omg I am so emailing for the recipe when I get home! Then it was back to point plomber, driving through the national park again, giving us opportunities to see more wallabies and kangaroos in their natural habitat. The swell had picked up from yesterday and the surf was looking pretty freaking awesome! So never one to be put off by my crapness at the sport I gave it another good go. Got pretty hammered by some big uns, and a few slaps (of water) across the face. Hard work padding against the waves to get out there in order to catch them back in, but I’ll be honest I enjoy that part too, just being in the water, having the thrill of being up and down in the waves (though waves dumping on you and nose dives are no fun at all I’ll tell you!). Managed to catch a few, but my best rides were when I’d had a little extra push from Ross or davey. Obviously I’d love to get them on my own, but it’s hard!! I tell myself foam boards are harder to catch waves (but they don’t hurt quite so much when they smack you round the face or head, so it’s swings and roundabouts really!). Nevertheless I had a few good rides and was pleased that my last of the morning got me standing all the way back to shore. I was also very pleased that in the last few days of surfing and abundant time in the water I encountered no sharks or jellyfish! Phew!! Paranoia 0: reality 1!!

So there ends my surfing adventure, though I hope it won’t be my last. Definitely want to go again in the uk when I can, though I’ll probably be waiting for our summer- even that will be a shock to the system after these lovely warm waters. We had short wetsuits, but with my long-sleeved rash guard (sun protection for me!) I have the strangest tan lines. Golden face, hands, mid and lower legs (‘golden’ is my tanned!) and white everywhere else! 

I hope if I’m back on the east coast of oz sometime I’ll swing by for another visit. Particularly as on the journey to the station with shelly I discovered that she too is a clinical psychologist by background! Small world eh?! She specialises in forensics and people with autistic spectrum disorder and travels across the east coast every couple of weeks to visit various prisons and special hospitals. She has also been very involved in research, including piloting a ‘professionals with love’ scheme, and developing and evaluating a programme in Chile for people newly diagnosed with AIDs and their families. She also let me know that there are sponsorship schemes in Aus for professionals like me, with a mental health qualification and a passion for providing positive care. Sounds good to me, so this may not be the last I see of this place, and the surfaris crew! 

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