Chapter 8 of the Short Travel Stories section here at Gone Atlas. To read more about real life travel adventures, please click on the “Short Travel Stories” section on the menu.
This is Chapter 8, and the second part of the “Byron Bay” series, where we explore Nimbin and surrounding falls.
Chapter 8: Protester’s Falls Nimbin
It’s been three days that I’ve been here in Byron and I have to decide whether I want to stay longer or leave. The truth is that I don’t want to go; I love this place. My days are basically waking up feeling hangover, having eggs Benedict with an awesome cappuccino for breakfast in the café next door, and then go to the beach to swim in the cold and hung-over-relieving water, have lunch at the hostel, then take a nap and wake up to talk nonsense with my friends and start drinking to party all night.
I am having an awesome time here and the group that has formed is fun, I have a beautiful connection with the. I know I sound repetitive, but it’s as if I’ve known them my whole life, we speak to each other with confidence, we party like old mates and we share that same curiosity for freedom and delight in life.
The problem is that tomorrow most of them will leave. Michael will be gone, Beau will be gone, James will be gone, and only one of the Germany boys, Chris, and the two German girls are staying.
It’s weird because I started off this experience by myself and I don’t mind it meeting new people, or just spending time alone, but I have a good thing going on at the moment and I fear that if I stay and watch the group dissolve, with them the magic of this place will crumble. Plus, in the past three days I’ve been cultivating the idea of having a travel group. However, none of these guys have an open schedule like mine, they’re sort of in a rush, so I couldn’t really travel more with them.
That’s why I decide to stay. I’ll make sure that Byron bay will still be a magic place even without this nice group of friends. Someone else will come and everything will be as good as now.
I extend my stay for five more nights. Todd smiles at me when I tell him and he says: “Mate, good choice. Byon’s by far the best place in Aussie, and if you were planning on going to Surfer’s, well mate, you’d be disappointed. It’s way different up there”.
I start feeling butterflies in my stomach. Yes, everyone is leaving and that makes me sad, but I’m excited that I’m staying. Good choice mate.
From a good decision another one is born. We decide to rent a car and drive to Nimbin, a pot-head hippie town, and some waterfalls. It’s Michael, James, Beau, an Argentinian we picked up from nowhere and me.
The drive is pretty nice, we go inland, through some hills with tiny towns and hidden farms, until we make it to a gravel road that leads to the falls.
We arrive at the parking lot and there are no other cars. There’s a sing that indicates that the falls are called Protester’s Falls and that we should take care of the place. There’s an elevated wooden sidewalk that zig-zags through a lot of thin trees, all really close to each other, it seems like a forest of chopsticks. When we make it out of the forest we get to a river and walk up stream until we reach a clearance in the forest where we can see the superb waterfall, illuminated by the sun, with the water falling graciously into a pond surrounded by big grey rocks.
The emotions are inexplicable. Beau starts yelling and quickly takes off his shirt and flip-flops and runs towards the waterfall. I follow him, getting on the massive rock under the fall and then I feel it, the refreshing cold water. There’s an intense heat, I’m hung-over, but this water is peace and glory at the same time. I close my eyes and stay there, interiorizing the energy that the fresh water is channeling to me, the purity of the nature cleaning me from all the shit I drank last night.
Michael, as a great photographer, doesn’t waste his time and starts taking pictures of the waterfall, us sunbathing in the large smooth rocks, eating some sandwiches we brought along, and just chilling in that oasis of sun in a desert of trees.
Afterwards we start driving to Nimbin and when we make it there the guys buy a spliff and smoke it. I don’t smoke, so I just laugh at their high and their jokes. Then Beau decides to go on the search for the best brownie in town, so here we are going up and down the place, seeing hippies smoking on the sidewalks, the colorful houses painted as rainbows, we even make it to a candle factory, and in general we’re just getting the positive, chilled and easygoing vibe.
I drive back while they’re sleeping. We make it back to Byron and after taking a nap we’re back to the same old dynamic: pre-drinks with Gosspis wine and then Cheeky Monkeys, the shitty backpacker bar we went to on our first night. It’s a spectacular night, we’re laughing, hugging each other and telling how much will miss this group and hoping to cross paths again, somewhere.
The next day everyone leaves pretty early, I say goodbye and before confronting the mental shock I go for breakfast. Procrastinating feelings. This time I’m feeling worse, I mixed too much last night.
I finish my eggs benedict and I’m having a glass of water when the mysterious Brazilian shows up again (I don’t know her name) and tells me that we should rent two bikes and go to a natural reserve. I feel like shit, but fuck it, let’s do it!
Here we go, pedaling our way to the reserve through the Byron suburbs until we reach the highway. I’m following her and she’s fearless and just gets on the highway. I’m pretty sure that what we’re doing is illegal, other than extremely dangerous, but she doesn’t seem to care. We’re on the side of the road, yes, but still the cars drive next to us like at 120 km/h and they make my bike shake. I’m scared.
Fifteen kilometers later we make it to the fucking reserve. We park the bikes, I’m in bad shape, dehydrating and we have no water (terrible planning, I know, but I had no idea it was going to be this far away). We go to the beach. It’s a nudist beach.
Here I am, hung-over, next to a mysterious woman who decides to appear only during my mornings of agony to rescue me from my post-alcohol misery but disappears during my cheerful afternoons and evenings, and we’re sitting in a beautiful beach surrounded by seventy-year old men walking with their dicks out. Surreal.
After a while we’re tired of being there and we decide to go back. Another risky trip, but we make it safely to the hostel. I buy a bottle of water at reception and then look for the girl to thank her for inviting me, but she’s gone. Disappeared again, like after the yoga lesson. Oh well, I’ll see her again when I’m hung-over.
I walk into the room to try and get some sleep when I run into a new guy. He’s Canadian, named Adam. He’s short, tanned, with a thick beard, he’s my age, traveling alone and just got here planning to stay five nights. Boom.
I lay down and I’m happy. My group of friends left in the morning, but it seems that in the next few days good people will be showing up too, and so the magic random days won’t stop. Maybe that’s the magic of Byron Bay, that at any moment good people show up, or simply when you make it here you get the positive energy and become cheerful, easygoing and let yourself flow with the vibe. Time passes, people come and go, but the place stays the same, almost as if time never passed and people never left. Surreal.