NSW Fire Danger Simply Frightening

Tomorrow will see what is being called the worst fire conditions ever in NSW.

Sydney is forecast to hit 43c, with fire conditions listed at the second highest rating of extreme. South of Sydney conditions are listed as catastrophic, there is a state wide fire ban and all National Parks are closed.

For me this is simply frightening. I am fortunate to live in central Sydney and will only have to deal with the extreme heat – and potentially smoke if fires do break out. The hottest day I have ever had previous to this is 41c and I hid inside until the cool wind change hit – unfortunately for tomorrow that isn’t due until 3am.

One can only hope that terrible fires won’t break out.

NSW Fire Danger

Byron Bay and Nightcap National Park – 48 hours in Paradise

It is not often I will call a weekend away Paradise, normally awesome, cool, wicked, fun, great, brilliant would suffice but in this case Paradise is the only word that can truly describe just how much fun and enjoyment I had.

I flew to the Gold Coast on Saturday night with a friend, got picked up from the airport and driven the 50km south to Byron. The best thing about Saturday night was the rain, it is still very odd to be living in a country where rain is a rare commodity and when you see it falling you smile.

Sunday was spent hiking in the Nightcap National Park. Initially we were meant to just walk a 7.5km and 4.5 hours on the Minyon Loop Track to the base of the Minyon Falls and back up. Problem was despite stopping for around 30 minutes for lunch we managed to complete the track in two hours.

Minyon Falls

Rather than waiting 2.5 hours for our transport back to Byron we decided to head up to Rummery Park Camp Ground via Boggy Creek Track. This took an hour and once we had stopped again for food and wildlife spotting we decided to head up a fire break to try and spot Cape Byron and its lighthouse.

Cape Byron + Lighthouse

Once we got back to Byron Bay we had a beer and danced at the Byron Beach Hotel where Lisa Hunt’s Forever Soul band was performing covers of many songs from the 60s – 80s. The great thing about the Beach Hotel was it didn’t matter who you were, how old you were or how you were dressed everyone was having a fun time; it was a very relaxed and friendly family environment.

At 5am on Monday I got up to catch the Sunrise over the Tasman Sea. Getting up to see the sunrise is one of the best experiences you can ever have and it is a tradition of mine to do so when I am in the bush or a beautiful country environment. The sunrise over Cape Byron certainly did not disappoint and was well worth getting up so early for.

Monday morning was spent sea kayaking in Byron Bay. Getting out through the surf at Byron Bay was a fun experience as there was around a 2m swell onshore and further out some of the waves on the reef were breaking a lot larger. I was fortunate that I only got tossed out of the kayak once on the way out. Once we got about 2.5km offshore we were able to spot fish jumping, green turtles and a pod of bottle nosed dolphins. It was one of the most fun and spectacular things I have ever done in my life, I may love the mountains but being in a kayak, offshore around 20m from a pod of dolphins is awesome.

Once we got back from our tour we headed into the surf to do some boogie boarding.  The rest of the day was then spent getting a very late lunch and looking through the town. Overall this trip was Paradise. If you plan to go to the Gold Coast do not go to Surfers Paradise, instead head to a real piece of Paradise – Byron Bay.

Byron Bay - Paradise

Speed Cameras in NSW

Living in a new country brings with it a lot of cultural changes, and while the difference in most things between NZ and Australia are mild and minor some of the laws, particularly around roads, are quite absurd from the view of a Kiwi.

Yesterday the NSW Government announced that it was reintroducing mobile speed cameras – you know those white/green/black vans always parked on the sides of the roads in NZ with the dark tinted windows.

What is absurd in NSW though is instead of the anywhere, anytime, no signage speed cameras they have in NZ, the NSW Government is going to give everyone one warning sign before a camera (currently the fixed cameras have 3!), and maintain a public list of locations.

I don’t see the rational for warning people about speed cameras (let alone 3 warnings). If you are serious about bringing the road toll down then stick cameras at the black spots, at the points where people are acting stupidly and fine them, take their cars off them, take their license off them. The only thing fixed speed cameras are is white elephants on the side of the road and those who manage to get fines from them certainly shouldn’t be driving.

By having anytime, anywhere speed cameras it means drivers are more alert to the speed they are travelling at all times not just when a road sign tells you to slow down. And don’t get me started on people calling them revenue gathering tools, they only gather revenue because you are dumb enough to break the law.