The best-laid plans of mice, men and travel agents…
are really no match for a cyclone!
Our family had planned an adventure for the start of 2019. Only, the Great Barrier Reef weather decided to surprise us and so, instead of heading North up the East Coast of Australia we found ourselves driving South to Byron Bay instead.
About Byron Bay
This beachside town lies in the far-northeastern corner of New South Wales in Australia. A headland next to the town is the easternmost point of mainland Australia. The local Aboriginal people named the location Cavvanbah which translates to meeting place. Lieutenant James Cook named it for John Byron instead. A fellow sailor, John would later be a grandfather to the poet Lord Byron.
Industry in the area started with cedar logging followed by enthusiastic gold prospecting of the black sand of Tallow Beach and residents also dabbled in dairy, meat, fishing, and whaling. The port was busy but hazardous and a number of shipwrecks still lie in the area. In 1901 a lighthouse was erected and by all accounts, the smell from all these endeavors was pretty horrendous.
The arrival of longboard surfers in the 1960s heralded the beginning of a new era for Byron Bay. It was becoming a tourist destination and the Aquarius Festival in nearby Nimbin cemented the town’s reputation as a happy, alternative, hippy town in 1973.
The momentum kept building and throughout the eighties development really hit its stride with the town becoming one of the most up-market residential areas on the east coast of Australia. A very diverse population includes surfers, backpackers, artists, musicians and many new age shops, meditation and yoga classes and wellness retreats. The area has also attracted a large number of famous inhabitants like Thor himself: Chris Hemsworth, Elsa Pataky, and Natalie Imbruglia.
We left our home on the Sunshine Coast at 7 am and arrived at THE BYRON AT BYRON RESORT & SPA in time for a delicious buffet breakfast.
While looking around, I immediately found the spa. It does not only look divine but also customizes every treatment to perfection.
Refreshed and fed, it was time to head out and wander through the small and fascinating towns of Newrybar and Bangalow.
Shops worth stopping into here include:
LUTHER & CO —for unique antiques. Also, their beautiful Alsatian, Luther is available for free hugs!
NEWRYBAR MERCHANTS — possibly one of the best shops I have ever been into. I purchased some heady perfume, a great book, and botanical oils.
There is also a handful of intriguing clothing shops offering unique, inspiring clothes.
We had lunch at HARVEST, and it was terrific.
Then we headed to ELEMENTS OF BYRON BAY to check in.
Dinner was at the in-house AZURE BAR & GRILL.
Up early so Michael and I could run along the beach to the lighthouse before ending the run with coffee on the grass at RAE’S ON WATEGOS. We hopped into an Über back to ELEMENTS for breakfast (best açai bowls on earth!) and a few hours spent lazing next to the swimming pool.
Taking the solar powered 10-minute train into Byron we set about exploring the town in the afternoon,
We wandered around the shops and stopped at the ORGASMIC FALAFEL for lunch.
If all you want from life is the most divine vegan milkshake made with hemp milk, mushrooms, coconut, and cacao, then you have to put SPICE on your bucket list. It is one of the many exceedingly cool hole in the wall type of joints Byron offers. It really isn’t very fair making us pick only one to try first!
In the town every shop seems to offer something unique, I purchased items of clothing that were very unique, some having been made in Byron.
Dinner was at NO BONES a fantastic vegan restaurant. We enjoyed vegan calamari, duck hoisin, prawn tacos and baked brussel sprouts in vegan cheese sauce – YUM, I will definitely be back.
Evening entertainment was on the beach front with live music from local street vendors including a silent disco.
There is music literally everywhere. Byron certainly knows how to spoil visitors for choice in every department.
I try to get my exercise in early in the day. So I started with a half hour in the gym before indulging in an hour of Yoga on the bank overlooking the ocean.
We ate breakfast at ELEMENTS, drove into town to walk to the lighthouse where we had refreshments at the café (quite basic, it serves coffee, tea, cold drinks, ice cream, and a few small pastries)
Back in town, we discovered a delightful store called ISLAND LUXE TRIBE (if you don’t want to be tempted don’t stop by, the clothes and shoes, for both men and women, are ridiculously divine
Off to THE FARM for lunch, the restaurant here is called the THREE BLUE DUCKS and was opened by Sydney restauranteurs who have a successful chain in Sydney. You can enjoy large meals in the restaurant or, as we did, you may choose to buy fresh loaves of bread, and items from their grocery store such as cheese, lettuce, tomato, beer mustard. You name it they have it, and its packaged so beautifully you will want to buy the store. We sat on large wooden benches, they supplied the utensils, and we enjoyed the freshest sandwiches ever. Coffee and cake finished off our meal.
By 3 pm we headed back to ELEMENTS where we spent the rest of the afternoon swimming. Snuck the kids into the adults only section with the swinging chairs for a little swing and ate pizza around the poolside bar for dinner.
Back at the villa, we had a selection of new movies to choose from before heading to bed.
Breakfast at Elements
Time to depart – only a couple more stops though!
Shopping at HABITAT – will you ever run out of very very hip areas to shop near Byron? Not in four days!
Off to Federal, a small town off the beaten path with a population of around 715 people and one of the most popular restaurants in the Byron Shire called DOMA, we enjoyed our Asian lunch before hitting the road back to Noosa.
Images Leora Rothschild