Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Oct 20 - 21 Byron Bay

We settle in our our house, our maison-du-semain? Unpacking, discovering the lay-of-the-land, the defunct wifi, and generally a whole lot of well-needed (particularly for Bailey) nothing-doing.

As our biological clocks are still just a tad off, we all awake for a 6am sunrise over the Pacific. (I know, I know - it’s not possible to properly capture a portraist of sunrise or sunset - but it doesn’t stop all of humanity from trying....) From the back deck, we have the perfect sunrise experience with wild birdcalls abound. Our favorite, as yet unidentified, birds have a clear multi-note song that we initially mis-took for a happy early-morning riser of the human variety on a mission to wake the neighborhood. A moderately capable musician could easily capture the sheet music. Musician of any capability, I am not.
Other singers have a lower, single-note whistle, followed by a heightened water-drop sound:
One bird tone makes a quick, bright pinging noise almost like the sound of ice cracking on a pond “TsseeOW!”
And there is a long, lower calm warble almost like that of someone burning out their starter on an engine that won’t catch...
“drrrrrrrrrrrrrh.” Finn can imitate it pretty well.
A lesser favorite is one we call the monkeybird. It makes the rattling stuttered stream of “woo-o-oo-oo-oo-Ooh” punctuated by crow/monkey-like cries “gagh-AGH-AGH!” One monkeybird engages another in fiery dispute until a treefull of raucous monkeybirdbicker fills the air - sometime around 4 - 5:30am. Understandably, Actual Serious Birders - who could likely identify any of the above from their voice - come here from around the world to check out the rainforest & bush avian life.

After an early breakfast at a blissful beachfront cafe, we spend the day wandering the streets & shops of Byron Bay. Overall, the vibe is one that one-ups North Hampton and out-Boulders Boulder in a neoHaight Ashbury concentrate with more blonde dreads than I’ve seen outside of a Dead show. Peace, love & surfing. There are lots of contented smiles, tattoos & piercings, self-aware clothing choices, self-aware-but-not-self-conscious lack-of-clothing choices, international accents, 7 pregnant bellies, veggie/vegan options, outdoor eateries, organic/local market choices, cybercafes, campgrounds, youth hostels/cheap motels, bikes with surfboard rigs, hitchhikers (not left standing), gorgeous vintage VWs, an entire line of fantastically graffitti’d mini-campers available for hire, a ridiculous line-up of live music & festivals - lots of reggae, ska, blues & folk (most of which we’ll miss due to their yet upcoming summer schedule) and a lorikeet in a ficus tree.......

Interspersed with the granola aspect are some of the results of clear & rapid overgrowth of the original small town - those somewhat seedy tourism travel hawk shops, overpriced real estate, some homeless/street peeps, too few crosswalks and some similar urban planning glitches. However, one truly brilliant move of Byron Bay planning is that private beachfront property doesn’t exist. All the area coastline is public-access beach, and/or part of a larger park. All real estate - both commercial and residential, seems to start at about a 500 yard coastal buffer.

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