Byron Bay in Winter; Writers, Whales and Wallabies

Before we left Switzerland many of our friends made comments along the line of 'Won't it be hard going back to Australia in the middle of winter?'. We assured them it wouldn't be and it definitely hasn't been. We've been in Byron Bay since last Thursday. B/Bay is the easterly most situated town in Australia, famous for it's beaches, surfing lifestyle, the BB Blues Festival and as one of the must stop and do places for European backpackers.

Mount Warning - my 'Yumba' (homeplace)
Writer's festival

A writer meditates at the 'fat lady' sculpture

I've been coming to this place since  about 1957. In 1972 I lived here for six months and worked at the now defunct Anderson's Meatworks. After working three days a week at Anderson's I would hang out with my five cousins, surf and get up to all sorts of mischief that I no longer subscribe to. Jo and I have been coming here for a week long holiday every year since 2001 (not including the two years we were in Switzerland). Before going to Switzerland we would both say Byron Bay was our favourite holiday lifestyle destination. After spending two years flying all around Europe and seeing some amazing places I would have to admit this place still feels like home to me and I would still rank it at number one.
Jessica Watson - an 18 y.o. legend - sailed single handedly around the world 2 years ago - a study in courage

Looking back to Byron Bay from The Pass on our morning walk

At this moment of blogging, the sun is setting behind Mount Warning like a honeymoon photo, about thirty kilometres to the north west. The skyline is a warm ochre, the ocean at our feet lapping out a sweet, continuous and calming melody in blue. I'm sitting here in my board shorts and thongs (in Australia we wear then on our feet where they usually fit better). Jo is entranced beside me scratching out a new kid's story in the old fashioned, inky method on parchment. A kilometre to the north, the lights of the town hug the ocean like a Rainbow Serpent.


Wild thing

Rock wallaby

This is the Humpback Whale that had moved way off-shore

I was born in the shadow of Mount Warning some sixty years ago. My great-grandfather originally settled in this area in the 1890's and I think that explains my sense of home whenever I can see the carved outline of Mount Warning's volcanic plug. I've wandered in and out of this country all my life.

Before we left Switzerland to come back home Jo and I made a decision to attend the Byron Bay Writer's Festival which is held during the first weekend in August. It was a good call. After spending four weeks getting our cottage in Witta up to speed it was amazing (to overuse the word yet again) to soak up three days in the sun with a couple of thousand like-minded travellers. We sat in on an endless program that overflowed with a diverse and eclectic array of authors and writers who passionately shared their ideas through forums,  discussions and  debates. Not only were we rewarded with a whole range of challenging ideas and opinions but also introduced to a couple of bags of new books that are now having turns at sitting comfortably between our fingers.  In addition we had the opportunity to meet some of these writers in more casual situations and increase our understanding of the creative process.

Children's author Andy Griffiths of 'The Day my Bum Went Psycho' fame- kids just love him

Jo leading the way along Clarkes Beach
The spaces in between the pages of the festival have been filled up with long beach walks and morning hikes up to the Byron Bay lighthouse, to scour the Humpback Whale oceanic highway of the Pacific Ocean panoramic. Yesterday was the only day I didn't take my camera. And yes it was the same old story. Four adult humpbacks and one calf frolicking in the morning sun about 150 metres from Little Watego Beach. I watched them in awe for ten minutes and then ran the two kilometres home to get my camera and the car. By the time I get back they were a kilometre out to sea and all I was left with was a beautiful memory of one of the planet's biggest creatures.

 There were many highlights at the Writer's Festival for both of us. One that stood out for me was a guy who was launching his first book. Tony Taylor wrote a story about spending a week teaching his eight year old grandson to fly fish on Vancouver Island in Canada. The book is called 'Fishing The River of Time'. The story is more about the bigness of life and nature than fishing. Tony is eighty four years young and his enthusiasm has had a profound affect on how I view what I do. Bob Brown, the ex-leader of the Greens political party, was also impressive and in my opinion would make a great Australian Prime Minister in this current era.

Pandanus Palm fruit

On the last day of the festival, at the last discussion session I attended, funnily enough called 'Small World', I was reeled in by the words spoken by Arnold Zable. Arnold is a compassionate and insightful, Australian writer. After the session ended I walked and talked with him over to the book signing tent and found the voice in me that I have been looking for to complete the manuscript I have been working on for Lubna, my beautiful, young Libyan friend.

So now we have a couple of days reading, writing and sunning before we pick up 'Magic' our white rabbit and our 'magic' drawing board. Then it's back to the hills of Maleny to work on our new 'magic'  shows for kids and enjoy all the good that surrounds us (and that includes the 24 celsius warm winter degrees).

And by the way. I've realised that I am truly more content up to my ankles in soft, warm, squeaky sand than I am up to my bum in freezing, cold snow.

Love and blessings


A late winter afternoon Byron style


  1. rob...i loved this post...and the images are lovely and i must try and get my hands on fishing the river of time...thank you so much for sharing your experiences...

  2. Gotta go back to where Daphne was made...

    1. Clarkes Beach caravan park is waiting for you guys... and the new amenities are way good!!

  3. Great to hear about life back in Oz love to you both from ash, irene and daphne xxx


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