I went to Byron again.
I had to. Wearing my tour guide hat, I went to meet up with the daughter of a dear friend – and her travelling companion and a mate from back home but now living in Melbourne – and share some of the delights of Byron, before bringing them back to Brisbane.
My friend suggested we make a weekend of it. I don't need telling twice. And I managed to find a reasonably-priced room – with only three day's notice.
On Sunday morning the effects of Saturday night's beer, red wine and Beach Hotel burgers (excellent, by the way) had to be run off. It was raining. (Yes, it does rain in Byron, but it's special rain, you see.) It was raining quite hard.
From Fletcher Street we ran along Lawson and Massinger on to Clarkes Beach as far as The Pass. There was feverish activity at the ramp: divers being dropped off and inflatables positioned ready for the 10-minute trip to Julian Rocks, carefully avoiding surfer swarms patiently waiting for waves.
We turned and ran back, passing 'the budgie brigade', serious swimmers filing round to The Pass, to swim across the Bay I guessed. I was glad at this point to see that the scar created by seemingly endless but finally completed slope stabilisation work on Lighthouse Road had been replanted.
And then along Main Beach we ran and across to Belongil. Unlike last time when we tried to run here, the tide was perfect: far enough on its way out to allow us by the rocky mini-headlands on firm sand. The goal was Belongil Creek.
Somewhere between spotting a beach house for sale and the start of Tyagarah Nature Reserve, I glanced out towards Julian Rocks: there were bright silvery clouds as the rain eased. I was listening to my iPod (running aid), but softly this morning so I could still hear waves breaking. Suddenly, I felt energised in a way that's not easy to describe without sounding like a traveller in a camper in Jonson Street car park or a passenger on the happy bus to Nimbin. I wanted to do something somewhere between dancing and running, but successfully resisted the urge. It struck me that I was running in the most beautiful place imaginable. I became aware that the power of place is a force to be reckoned with, if not worthy of religious fervour. The endorphins were rushing: I felt radiant; exhilarated; delighted; at ease; at one; elemental.
I could have run for miles. I was soaked but didn't notice. I beamed at the few people we came across. It was the most enjoyable run I can ever remember. And the benefits lasted for days. Who needs drugs or churches?
Unfortunately, I can't carry a camera while I'm running. I'd be stopping all the time for one thing, which kind of defeats the object of the exercise. So I can't show you the tea-tree-stained waters of Belongil Creek or the gulls and terns resting at its mouth, or the Brahminy Kite sitting motionless and all-knowing. And you'll just have to take my word for the birdsong – from whipbirds whip-cracking to little darters twittering. In the otherwise perfect peace, it was hard imagine that bustling Byron was a 15-minute sprint away.
It might be unbelievable... It might just be fantastic*.
* © Chrissie Hynde