The last challenge for us was to stand on the last of the compass points of mainland Australia. In the South, a year ago, we had hiked 40km in 2 days to South Point. In the West an arduous drive took us some 32km along a hideously corrugated sand track to Steep Point. Only a few weeks ago we had stood at the Tip, (Pajinka) on Cape York, in the North and the last challenge was Cape Byron on the East. This had to be the easiest part of our challenge. We parked car and trailer and walked 15 minutes up the hill past the lighthouse to the sign. Once again a storm threatened but on our return we hesitated on the cliffs to watch a manta ray glide past. We also witnessed a shark, eagle rays and dolphins cruisng close to the shore before we dashed to miss the rain.
But wait a minute I’m getting ahead of myself!! Leaving the Gold Coast we took a scenic drive inland through forests to a place called the Natural Bridge in Springbrook National Park. A short trail through forest takes you to Cave Creek that falls over a rock wall then through a cave making it a photogenic “Natural Bridge”. The river passes several plunge pools before cascading over a large log into a glowworm cave, then flows out to the forest again. The glowworms are only visible at night unfortunately when their green light fills the cave. Another feature of this part of the park are the Hoop Pines, primitive conifers that have existed for 180 million years.
Our itinerary was busy and as we pressed on again, then suddenly on a narrow winding country road we were confronted with a sign that grounded us. “Welcome to NSW” meant we were truly almost home. We left NSW over a year ago.
Our next stop requested by the kids was Crystal Castle in Mullumbimby. I wasn’t prepared for what greeted us, but mirth soon overtook apprehension when our guide paused for an unexpected moments meditation. The kids slurped their drinks loudly (we were lunching on the run again). I poked them in the back, half opening my eyes to see if anyone had heard but they didn’t get it and kept slurping. I hung my head for a minute in embarrassment, then let go, relaxed and enjoyed the sumptuous grounds. Giant statues of Buddha and numerous Indian gods occupy strategic positions throughout the Shambhala gardens. Enormous crystals offer healing qualities, and a world peace stupa allows one to close your eyes and pretend you are in Tibet. There is a rainforest walk, regular events, and niches where people seek tranquility for a spiritual experience. Much work and collaboration has been required to develop this place and it is well worth a visit. After a couple of hours here it was time to close the compass point challenge and Byron Bay was our next stop, unfortunately having no time to stop to see our fellow travellers “Our Roaming Home”, who started from our home suburb shortly after we left. They had seen us passing and called Amanda on the phone!
With light fading fast we headed for our camp at Lis and Greg (friends of Amanda’s brother) in Lennox Heads, put the trailer up and the deluge began. As hailstones began to rattle the roof on the house I hoped that they wouldn’t be big enough to damage the car. The kids were fascinated with them as they haven’t seen hail for a long time. Finally we sat in the house watching Malcolm Douglas episodes on TV, a rare event in the last year, until it was time to retire to bed.