We're Never Coming Back

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Saturday, November 11, 2006

Day 179 - Newcastle

australia Brodi is a GOD!

So, leaving byron bay behind to the soundtrack of the new Nelly Furtado album (half good, half RUBBISH. where's the old nelly gone. she was perfectly good as she was), sam drove us south for 3 hours while I slept in the passenger seat to a little nondescript town called Coffs Harbour. I don't wanna offend anyone, but its a bit rubbish.

Right, it sells itself as the 'town with the big banana', which turns out to be about 12ft long, which clearly isn't big enough to boast about. rubbish. and there's nothing here. The only hostel in town wouldn't let us use their showers, so we drove around, trying to find a road to park on, but opted for a camp site to finish up. Very excitingly though, Sam and I bought a shed load of meat and used one of THESE for the first time...

Aussies are wicked, putting these BBQ stations EVERYWHERE that you'd want to cook a sausage. They're free (we spent ages trying to find the money slot) and are amazing. the only downside is the seagulls.

Anyway, campsites are rubbish. Usual story - can't sleep, no tv room to chill out in, lights out at sundown. I'm not cut out for camping. I'm noctural, like most of the nasty little critters that keep scarying the crap out of me when I'm bored and wandering around the park. But the morning came, and after Sam did some internet research for her freelancing job (she's writing articles for That's Life Australia magazine!) we hit the road towards Newcastle, home of Brodi, some 19-year-old dude I went out drinking with in Queenstown, New Zealand.

The drive there was as equally non-descript as Coffs Harbour. 6 hours, passing almost no coastline (we took a 30 minute detour to spot some coast, but we weren't that impressed), almost no topography and not a hint of culture. The best we got was stopping for some food and drivign away at top speed because some dude in a rocking chair was staring at us and the place was so 'out-back' we thought we were gonna be murdered.

But we arrived in Newcastle just after dark. Its proper industrial, like one massive ship-building, car-wrecking, metal-shaping factory city. The street lights aren't quite bright enough, and the traffic lights are pea-green coloured - different to everywhere else (in the whole world almost). After passing a rotting 50-something hooker and a gang of kids sauntering along the dingy streets, we pull up in the centre of town and call Brodi on his mobile. I'm nervous. Its not like we're best mates. We got drunk together. that's it!

But its cool. He gives us directions, we check a map at a petrol station, and start the 15 minute journey retracing our steps because he doesn't live in the town centre. gutted. and sure enough, my impeccible sense of direction leads us to Brodi's house.

Now, lets set the scene. We're going to meet a 19-year-old friend of ours, who's offered that we stay with him. He's just been travelling, and only just got home. what the hell were we expecting. OF COURSE HE LIVES WITH HIS PARENTS. We're sat in the pink campervan outside his house, dreading ringing the doorbell in case his mum asks who the hell we are, when out come brodi, welcomes us in, and within minutes I have a sausage on my plate, a cup of tea in my hand, and the usual auusie welcome we've come to expect everywhere.

And 2 hours later, we've flown into town in a cab to an indie bar, stocked out with good looking people, a shed load of piercings and tattoos, and even more fruit machines (they call them pokies here, as in poker machines), and we're drinking, laughing and getting on as if we're old mates who have never been apart. Brodi's surname is Hardman (i know!), so we spent ages trying to flex our guns as well as his. but we failed.

the next day, hangovers out in force, Brodi promised to show me how to BODYBOARD, so we suncreamed up, drove back into newcastle town and spied the best beach for bodyboarding. And before long, I had my flippers on, my wetsuit donned and was heading for the water with my bodyboard.

Now, I never realised that bodyboarding is a serious sport. I always, genuinely, thought it was for kids, and people who can't surf. But brodi does it seriously. and its a proper thing. people get paid LOADS to do this stuff in hawaii, and you can get proper bodyboarding magazines. So rather than feel like a little pussy for not having a surfbaord, I felt pretty special. And as I waded in (oh, tough with flippers on), and prepared myself for the relatively intimidating waves, brodi wished me luck and pointed me towards my starting point.

Ducking under the waves is tiring, and paddling out is hard work, but when you catch the wave - you fly! Its wicked. seriously. its. wicked. I rode about 4 waves before giving up because I ate a face-full of sand, but each one was special. The wave just takes you - there's almost no resistance, and you can't do ANYTHING wrong. You have to literally make yourself fall off the board to stop riding it. Its great. Although I was later described as a bus-driver for the way I held the board so rigidly. whatevs.

Brodi was up, and he bombed across the waves, through some tunnels, up on one knee, spinning on the tops of waves and jumping off the cusps. He's a pro. That much is obvious. And when he came to give the board back, the waves had grown a little and the intimidation factor got too much for me, so I bailed out. Next time.

We decided to spend the evening in the city, but none of us has much money, so we opted for a car park with a city viewpoint, and blared the music out and joked around until dana (brodi's friend) was called home by her mum (seriously - we're hanging out with kids).

Now, we were being pretty stupid. We have a campervan which seats 2 people. So dana and brodi are lying in the back on the bed. Sam's all stressed because its kinda illegal, but its fine. That is until the police pull us over. Yep, driving along at 11pm and I get flagged over by the police, who are stopping everyone. random breath tests. I'm crapping myself. Sam's goes white (despite all the fake tan which she's applying even though she has a real one) and dana and brodi lie as flat as they can. Its dark back there. but not really dark.

And with brodi's feet perched scarily close to my face, I wind down the window, have a quick chat with the copper (who smiles at sam and doesn't even attempt to look inside the van), count to six in front of the breathaliser, and the copper wishes us a safe journey. We're all still holding our breath 10 seconds up the road before exploding with relief. Seriously, I was driving - i would have been fined to hell, and probably had some nasty points transfered to my licence back home. We made it. It was one of those situations that you KNOW you shouldn't have got away with. But we did.

In the morning, Sam and I bummed around the house for most of the day, avoided a flash storm of horrendous proportions (we had to unplug everything for fear of setting fire to the house from the lightning) that lasted about 20 minutes before being clear blue skies again (I love that stuff), then jumped in the Buddy van and headed off south. Next stop - SYDNEY!

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