The Big Shrimp and the Tequila Prophet

I may have been a little harsh on New South Wales, I think.

Despite my previous comments on the tedium of some of the roads in NSW, I did, at least, acknowledge that the towns and the coast were pretty.  I crossed the border into Queensland this afternoon.  Within a couple of hours, I’d experienced three near misses with woefully driven vehicles (one of them a bus, which really should know better).  And I’d ridden through most of Gold Coast, including the immensely over-developed tower blocks of Surfers’ Paradise.  In short, I was missing NSW in no time.  But at least I can’t call the roads boring any more…

It’s been a fairly eventful few days.  Yesterday, I was at Australia’s most eastern point (well, a few hundred metres away, to be the star pedant that I always hoped to be).  Byron Bay was rammed to bursting point with incoming backpackers, Aussie tourists and its own stock of hippies, all preparing diligently for the onrushing festive frenzy.  I still can’t get my head round the fact that Christmas is right around the corner.  Bah, Humbug!

Before I got to Byron, I covered another chunk of coast, and was privileged enough to see a significant cultural icon on Sunday; the Big Shrimp of Ballina.

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Big Things are a bit of an Aussie tradition.  There are a lot of them all over the country.  I’ve already pretty much missed the Big Banana, because it wasn’t as big as I expected.  I just caught it out of the corner of my eye as I whistled past on the highway a few days ago.

But there was no missing the Shrimp.  Bright orange, shrimp-shaped, and three storeys tall.  It really is a very impressive prawn.  Though why it’s in the car park of an out-of-town store is anybody’s guess.

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After the Big Shrimp, I was pretty close to the top of New South Wales.  Lennox Head (above) is only 20km south of Byron Bay.  It only took me an hour to ride between them yesterday morning (Monday).  But it’s an entirely different world in terms of tourism.  I realise it was getting dark, but it took me several minutes to get a picture of the beach with anyone at all on it.

It was a peaceful stopover, spoiled only by an initially-interesting Australian with a cod-Texan accent (he said it was his ‘authentic inner voice’).  He turned out to be an ex-member of some sort of cult spin-off type group, and a self-proclaimed prophet.  For what or whom wasn’t entirely clear.  Just add tequila to some people, and the strangest things can happen…

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So, New South Wales got interesting just as I was about to leave.  We’ll see how Queensland shapes up.

I’ve got three nights in Brisbane over Christmas, and I guess it’s fairly unlikely I’ll update the blog again until Boxing Day or so.  So I hope you all have a great Christmas, and I’ll be back with more from the Beast and me soon.

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