“Uhhh.... good evening ladies and gentleman this your captain speaking. It doesn’t appear we’re cleared for landing in Brisbane due to the storm below so we’re going to try for Sydney instead.”
Not the most calming of intercom conversations you’d like having with your pilot while 35,000 feet in the air, but we were fine with the decision as our plane was getting rag-dolled in the sky and our knuckles and stomachs needed a break from the turbulence. We eventually found our way to Brisbane later that evening, but the delay forced us to miss our bus to Byron Bay. Thankfully Qantas picked up our hotel tab for the night there and a few cab fares as well.
One day late, we had finally made it! Walking up to the studio apartment we were renting, we could not have been greeted by a more positive and smiling face than Jeanine, our host. A ball of good energy just bursting at the seams to dance and spread her joy wrapped up in a teeny little thing with bouncing red hair for days!
This uniquely Bohemian-decorated studio in front of Phil and Jeanine’s house was perfect, and the minute we got there they welcomed us with good vibes and warm smiles. Our hosts insisted we go on a hike to get a lay of the land and to shake off some jet lag that was resting in dark circles under our eyes. We trekked on a sand path through rainforest trees and hiked to a clearing that overlooked the Arakwal National Park beach, a pure 7 km of virgin sand. Continuing past a lighthouse, a 360 degree view of Byron Bay Coastline presented itself and we ended up at Clarkes Beach. Packed with surfers, yogis and dread-lock donned hippies, we were soaking in the relaxing vibe. Jeanine and Phil left us there and we walked through the chill, surfer town that makes Byron Bay. We strolled up towards the main street and into the spot that housed all the afternoon locals. We perched on a stool to sip some beverages and watch the setting sun. Luckily, this would be our life for the next week.
Each day we crawled from the most comfy bed and lazily made our way down to Clarkes or Arakwal beach and soaked in the gorgeous landscape. And every afternoon we were welcomed “home” by Phil and Jeanine to pick their brains about their travels and what led them to build their home in Byron. A couple nights in, as Leah was prepping the chicken in our rad little kitchen, Jeanine popped over and asked if we wanted to go out dancing with her that night. Ummmm YESSS! The ever awesome Phil hauled us down to the local jaunt, The Beach Hotel, and we are greeted by Jeanine’s friends, who we learned refer to her as ‘Red.’ Awesome. Red is off shaking everything she’s got in the front row, while a singer bellows Whitney Houston and other classics with funky attitude and the most powerful voice. All night we groove to the music with the young and old. We even saw a dance off when a few young men with impressive hip movements climbed on stage shaking it to ‘It’s Raining Men’ to everyone’s enjoyment. This town just keeps getting better! It totally seems as if everyone is on the same page of surfing, positive vibes and having a good time.
Our final evening capped off an incredible stay with a dinner at Jeanine and Phil’s place. With a home-cooked spread to feed most of the neighborhood and some great tips about where to travel in India, we laughed and traded stories with our awesome hosts, their beautiful daughter Amber and a family friend.
Byron Bay and the people we met are one of our most special memories so far on our trip and will be cherished. If only we could be welcomed by a surrogate family everywhere we go!