We had a later start than we’d intended, since Pat was up + showered, breakfasted + off to work before we stirred. Still, it wasn’t too much longer, then we were having a cup of tea in the surgery together, + then off. Retraced our steps to the service station where we’d been dropped yesterday, + started hitching again from there. It was another roasting day, so fortunately it wasn’t too long before we got a ride. We were bloody grateful tho’, since there’d been very little traffic. He was quite a nice bloke, called Stephen, not chatty but intelligent with what he said. He was off to an alternative culture festival being held up at a place called Nimbin. It had attracted quite a bit of publicity, since even Pat had heard of it – we’d been talking about it yesterday. It sounded really quite interesting, so we decided to go along with him. I had to think about what I wanted to do, and what I thought I should do, + what was easy to do, + going to NImbin won 2 counts out of 3. After all, we are here to see things, if at all possible.
Drove to Lismore, the nearest big town to Nimbin, + stopped there to obtain some shopping, + some information, since none of us knew much about the place, or the event. The info we received tho’ wasn’t encouraging. There was a $35 entrance fee to cover the whole 5 days that it was running, + tho’ it might have been possible to negotiate some sort of deal on a one-day stopover, we didn’t really see that they would let us in for less than $10 apiece. So, reluctantly, tho’ we still weren’t certain about it, we decided to leave Stephen in Lismore –he had driven all the way up from Coffs Harbour, so was going in anyway. This was a bit of a pain, since we’d driven inland away from the main coast road to get to Lismore, + would now have to hitch back out there. It was only about 30 miles, but still might prove difficult. As, in fact, it did. Stephen was good enough to drive us back to the outskirts of town, but from there we had quite a hefty wait for a ride… + that was only for a few miles. Still, it did take us properly out of town, to where the purely local traffic ended. Still, another goodish wait, but then an old lady, on her way to work at a small children’s home, gave us a ride. She dropped us at a local store, + we barely had time to buy some orange juice + local honey before a car pulled up for us. He was an ex-pat Englishman, now involved in boat delivery and building one-man aircraft. Interesting, but a bit weird, + rather distant + inconsistent. Still, he did take us down to Ballina, which meant we were back on the coast, + Highway 1.
Time was getting on, + we were half-resigned to finding a place to stay there, when our usual last-minute luck turned up trumps, when a guy in a pick-up pulling a caravan stopped for us. He was heading all the way north to Surfer’s Paradise so, as has happened to us so many times, just when a day looked like being a bummer, our Fairy Godmother sent down the answer to a prayer. Fortunately, for such a long ride, the bloke was interesting. He now towed caravans for a living, his own business, but he’d made his money initially as a sheep-shearer, + had a good deal to tell us about that. Apparently, a merinho sheep is wrinkled, to get more wool on it, + so is a lot more difficult than a cross-breed to shear. We didn’t agree with all he had to say mind – he was fascinated by the modern developments, + especially all the money that was being made, + thought that the high-rises were great, + Surfer’s a true paradise. We thought it was hideous, but he was certainly interesting + happy to take us on a short detour to show us various things. And almost best of all, he dropped us directly outside the Council Camp-site at Surfers, so we didn’t have to walk even a few yards. The office to the place was shut, so we just pitched tent alongside another one, + had a cold meat sandwich, + then walked to the main entertainment centre at Surfers, about a mile and a half. But it was just so dull, about as interesting as its English seaside equivalent yet without the charm. We bought an ice-cream, then wandered home again. Why do people spend their money on such places.
This does indicate how easily we could be swayed, our decisions largely lead by what we thought we could afford. This concern with money had been a guiding principle throughout our trip, but actually it was to play an even larger role on our trip back through Asia. We had had till now the reassuring thought of being able to top up our money in New Zealand and Australia, but now, though we were about as flush as we had been ever since we started, it was likely that that money would have to carry us all the way home, with little prospect of paid employment (not quite true, but we weren’t to know that at the time.)
Otherwise, a fairly normal litany of rides and ride offerers, with pretty much the normal range of people.