Welcome to this blog, the story of a great big Australian adventure. It documents my travels, life in Australia, and a subject close to my heart – environmental conservation. 

An unexpected pleasure

Hey, I've been to Byron again. There are those who think I'm obsessed with the place, and they may be right, but, even though I've visited several times in the last 18 months, I am constantly seeking new angles. So please stay tuned.

The Aussies have a great system if you see something you like, say, in a gallery, and you don't have the readies. You can ask for a lay-by, which means you put down a deposit, then you pay in instalments that you can afford while the item is reserved for you. The deposit and the length of time in which you're expected to pay vary a lot from place to place and are subject to negotiation, but no interest. Obviously, this system doesn't suit must-have-now items such as jewellery.

So it was that we went to Byron last Saturday to retrieve a small piece of sculpture in bronze and sandstone, Collector of Stars (by Di West), that we had first noticed more than a year ago and been paying for over the last few months. It's of a figure lassoing stars from the heavens and collecting them in a shopping bag: I love it.

We set out early in order to breakfast in Byron. It was sunny but the forecast wasn't good. As we headed down into New South Wales, Mt Warning was busy catching clouds...

...but our arrival on the Bay was as lovely as ever.

The occupants of the car park at the top of Johnson epitomise visitors to Byron: there are always surfers, old hippies or gap-year travellers in Kombi vans; newcomers staring in wonderment, cameras in hand; and the odd eccentric. My first time ever, it was a unicyclist tearing about: on this occasion, it was a man from Tassie, with pet alpaca.

Once we'd collected our star-catcher, we drifted about town, no particular aim in mind: in and out of shops, dodging showers, trying to determine where Main Beach ends and Clarkes begins, taking our time over a tapas lunch at St Elmo in Fletcher Street (lap pool, below), and eyeing up the inclement weather heading round the Bay.

Mid-afternoon we headed to Brunswick Heads. We'd missed the beach on our previous visit and I had an appointment at a shoe shop. Business done, we walked along the river to its mouth and admired South Beach at the end of the rainbow – and Byron Bay.

Aussie blokes