We leave Byron Bay and get the coach 2 hours north to Surfers Paradise, crossing from New South Wales into Queensland. The name sounds enticing, but in reality Surfers is a huge dissapointment. High rise buildings dominate the entire length of the beachfront, and what may have once been a paradise for surfets has turned into a tourist and commercial centre. Even the rips were too dangerous to surf down at the beach and the lifeguards had closed it. What a dissapointment! Anyway, we spend the night there and head out on the town to check it out. Surfers has a reputation as a party town, but as it was Sunday not too much was happening. Eager to get on the road again, the next day we hire a car to continue the journey up the coast to Cairns at our own pace.
After skirting around Brisbane we head up through the Glass House mountains to Beerwah and Australia Zoo, made famous by the late Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin. Quite expensive to get in, but well worth it to see the crocodiles, aligators, venemous snakes, kangaroos etc. We even manage to take in a crocodile feeding session, which was very impressive. The tributes to Steve were emotional and as an avid watcher of his television shows, I was very glad I came.
Another short drive by Australian standards brings us to Noosa and the last chance to surf the west coast, as the Great Barrier Reef protects the northern beaches and there are no surf breaks. We spend a few days in this small laid back coastal resort and get in one last surf on Sunshine Beach, after a night of partying with a mix of backpachers and locals. Peter manages to break his finger after wiping out on a particularly large wave and we seek assistance from the lifeguards. He pulls it back into position and they tape it up, advising him to get a cold beer to numb the pain. On the way back we head up onto the hill to the lookout and watch the sunset, before getting an early night.