Stranded in Byron Bay

We landed from Sydney at Balina airport about 20 minutes outside of Byron Bay. No Ubber’s were available so we took an airport shuttle bus into town. The weather was pouring with rain; the tail end of Cyclone Debbie and it was 8am. We couldn’t check in to our hotel, so we sat in a cafe next door for several hours, luckily they had good wifi. The rain didn’t ease up at all so exploring the town would of been extremely wet.

We finally checked in around 12pm and Sam went and met his friend Loz who was also in town (luckily she drove and picked him up). Mike and I also had a friend in town and him and his family were the main reason we had come to Byron.

Yash was Mike’s friend from uni whom he lived with and he now works as an emergency doctor on the rescue helicopters along the coast. He picked us up from our hotel in the evening in his secret service style Hummer. A huge car for a small Sri Lankan!

He took us on a tour of the town or what we could see of it through the rain. Some crazy surfers were out in the near cyclone strength winds (our friend Sam being one of them). Byron is a big surfers paradise and is mainly full of rich locals and surfer backpackers. We picked up dinner from some local cafe/restaurants and drove up the hill towards the lighthouse.
On the way we stopped off at Yash’s friends house: a $5 million property overlooking the sea and beach. One of the most gorgeous and perfect houses we had both ever been in. We couldn’t think of a thing we would change. We surveyed the strength of storm through his perfect view and exchanged pleasantries.


Thoroughly jealous we left and headed in the car to the lighthouse. However the road had been sealed off, presumably from the storm so we turned around and headed back to Yash and his wife Jo’s house. Yash told us of the recent rescues he had been doing because of the cyclone and informed us of the flooding the was occurring up north towards Brisbane- our next destination. It also became apparent that Cyclone Debbie had/was bartering the Whitsunday Islands where we were headed after Brisbane.

Putting those worries out of our minds we had dinner with Yash and his family meeting his new born son Xavi and his 2 year old son Xander (whom we had last seen when he was a baby). Catching up was great and exchanged stories over dinner and had cuddles with baby Xavi, while we gave Xander a new storm trooper to play with.


Jo gave us a lift back to our hotel in their ‘monster truck’ and we met up with Sam and his friends who where back in our room playing games. Once they left we slept ready for our journey to Brisbane the following day, or so we thought.

Through the night the wind and rain lashed the tin roof as we heard various trees and BBQs being blown about. The following morning was dry and after some phone calls ‘Greyhound’ our coach operator assured us the coach was running despite the flooding. Sam decided to spend another day in Byron and would meet us in Brisbane a day later. After some breakfast, a watch if the surfers and a look round town, Mike and I collected our bags and awaited our coach to Brisbane.

The ‘Greyhound’ website said nothing of delays to our service, nor did the helpline. We watched another coach come in from the north and when he opened the luggage hold beneath the coach, people’s bags washed out with the flood water. One poor guy poored the water out of his laptop as others wringed out their clothing. Still no delays reported. Our 2:30pm coach eventually turned up around 5pm. We boarded and the driver informed us that there was flooding, but we would pull out of Byron and park up on route and wait to be told by head office when the road was going to be reopen: about 10/11pm apparently.


We had meant to be meeting friends in Brisbane for dinner so we phoned ahead and apologised. Around 9:30pm the driver got the call to go, so we headed off up the M1 motorway. Upon reaching the flooding the police turned us around and sent us back. The driver dropped us off back in Byron at 10:30pm. No where to sleep we called Yash who picked us up and after a quick beer gave us a bed for the night.


The following morning we frantically made calls. First to Greyhound to see if today’s coaches were running to Brisbane, to our boat company to see if our Whitsunday cruise was still operational and to Jetstar to see if our flight the following day to Proserpine (Whitsundays) was on. Cyclone Debbie had cause massive problems further up the cost so we were left in limbo. Answers were few and far between but the general consensus was to still go. If the boat and plane were working we knew we wouldn’t be able to make an insurance claim.

We thanked Yash and Jo for their hospitality and headed back into town to get the 2pm coach. They offered a bed for another night but we hoped we wouldn’t have to use it. We met Sam and luckily the coach turned up on time (early in fact) and we departed, the flood waters had reseeded enough for heavy vehicles to get through. Brisbane for a night awaited and the Whitsundays (what was left of them following the cyclone) the following day.

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