Byron Bay boasts beautiful memories for many naturalists, hippies and surfers of the 70s. More recently though, it has shed its ‘hippy-haven’ tag and become a place of respite for the burnt-out city slicker with money to drive up the real estate prices and tastes to command new restaurants. What remains however, is still that special element of escapism and a holiday to the area won’t often be forgotten. Byron Bay is a beautiful escape from the realities of our hectic lives as it offers healing calm.
Cape Byron is the eastern-most point of Australia, located on the northern NSW coast. With its unspoilt beaches and hinterland, mild weather, relaxed lifestyle and penchant for all things ‘alternative’, it’s no wonder Byron is a popular tourist destination, boasting some of the best health retreats in New South Wales. There seems to be an abundance of all the good things in life here!
Cape Byron Lighthouse
Standing proud on a rocky headland over a sheer cliff face is the most easterly light in Australia – the Cape Byron Lighthouse. Due to the elevation of the site a tall structure wasn’t required, so it won’t be the tallest lighthouse you’ve seen, but it is one of the most powerful and elegant. If you can tear yourself away from the massage table then this is well worth a visit whilst in the area.
The temperate climate and stunning setting of Byron Bay lends itself to outdoor activities such as snorkelling, surfing, kayaking, fishing and river tours. There are also lots of activities for the landlubber such as eco-walks and tours, mountain biking, circus skills and horseriding. The great weather and passion for all things creative means the area is also not short of a festival. From billycart derbies to tantra workshops, music festivals to rainforest rescues, have a look here for a calendar of events.
From tapas to pizza, stylish seafood to sushi and some truly ‘Byron-style’ outdoor dining experiences, there is food for all tastebuds here. If you’ve got the cash, Dish might be to your liking. Byron’s premium restaurant, you’ll receive award-winning cuisine from highly efficient but friendly staff. At the other end of the scale, but no less tasty, is the Buddha Bar and Restaurant, part of the Arts Factory Village which offers simple fresh ingredients at great value prices.
With any area given the ‘new age’ label there’s bound to be markets and Byron has them in abundance. The first, second and fourth Sunday of each month sees the Byron Bay, Channon and Bangalow markets respectively play host to ingenious art and funky handicrafts from local artisans. There are handmade toys for the kids and fabulous furnishings made of local materials; you could do all your Christmas shopping here and never fear giving the same present as someone else!
But if you and your house already have too many ‘things’ then why not spend some time sampling the local fare. Freshly harvested and home-produced, there are lots of stalls offering sumptuous goodies to enjoy right there and then or to take home and make a meal with later. Your body and mind may also enjoy a treat – massages and reflexology are offered on-site and there are numerous skin and haircare products made from natural ingredients for sale.
For those of you more interested in a spiritual adventure, take some time out for yourself and try one of the yoga retreats or indulge in a holistic wellness program. There's umpteen places to get massages or to have your palm, cards or irises read. You're sure to float all the way home with the best of intentions to change the way you currently live.
The Surrounding Sites
A great way to see some of the sites of the surrounding area such as the hippy town of Nimbin, the spectacular Minyon Falls and the world heritage forest is by hooking up with a local guide such as Jim’s Alternative Tours. You’ll no doubt experience some ravings about sex, drugs and climate change whilst on tour!
So whether you yearn for the freer days of the 70s, or just need a short break from the hectic pace of the noughties, why not consider Byron Bay for your next holiday. Regardless of your bent, you’re bound to find something to enjoy in this beautiful part of Australia.