Byron Bay: Australia’s New Age Wonder Beach Town
Near the town is an area of hill towns called the hinterlands, pastoral hills covered with macadamia plantations and, it is said, numerous pot plots. In a country known for its laid-back friendly attitude, this New South Wales destination kicks it up a notch.
In many ways it reminds me of growing up near Woodstock, New York with all its counter culture idioms, a place unto itself. Sit at the Balcony Restaurant and I am willing to bet that you will have trouble picking out backpacker from billionaire; I love a town that is culturally democratic. I dressed down.
Like Woodstock, Byron’s draw besides nature was festivals starting with the Aquarius Festival in 1972, peace, pot and growth were all parts of the pie.
On the other side of the chart are sky-high real estate prices, and Oz stars build stellar retreats to avoid each other. Elle Macpherson, Olivia Newton John and Paul Hogan would be prime examples. Somehow the pie chart balances as night clubs filled with Aussie University students still find cheap digs to burrow in, a blend I hope remains.
Byron Beach is located about 500 miles north of Sydney and while I was told that drive was lovely, with a limit of time I chose to fly up. The hour-long flight put me in the town of Ballina, about a half-hour drive from Byron. There I hopped on a Summerland Coach and headed to one of my new favorite hotels, the Byron at Byron.
Staying in My Own Slice of Heaven
Within seconds of arriving at the Byron I was given a glass of sparkling wine with a hibiscus flower floating in it. Just as delightful was the demeanor of the server, Lyn Parche, half of the husband and wife team that manage the Byron.
After leaving the incredible food scene of Sydney I wasn’t sure what to expect up north. I was pleasantly surprised as I chose to dine in-house or should I say in-forest. The Parches use all local produce and wines as well as trainees who strive to please.
The sounds of birds that I might find annoying back home seem to be attuned to my new found Aussie inner self, one that seemed to have been acquired recently. The plunge brewed locally grown coffee set the mood or possibly it was the five-minute walk to an empty pristine beach done pre coffee.
Backpacker, surf shop or art gallery, pick your favorite way of disposing of your disposable income, it's all within a few blocks. It truly is within the town that you just might realize that your travel style is a blend.
Byron Bay got its start as a whaling town and the rugged roots and links to the ocean remain evident. With seven different beaches in the surrounding area it isn’t surprising.
As I sat by the main beach I felt like I was watching the surf movie Endless Summer. Slick moves and bravado were well on display.
Hinterlands and Heaven
It has been compared to rural Ireland, Tuscany and Provencal but that really doesn’t do it justice; it is own place. The rolling hills of macadamia nut plantations and hidden pot plots are a perfect place to lose track of time.
As the sun set over the green hills I changed venues to what in Australia is often called a hotel. In the hinterlands that is often a pub and the meeting place for the locals.
As I sat at the Fresca Restaurant that is a part of the hotel’s outdoor porch a major storm passed with ferocious lightning that covered the sky sideways. It made me pull out the Aura Imaging picture taken earlier at the Crystal Palace. Like the picture of violent reds and blues the sky seemed to be spreading its own aura; nirvana was achieved!
Reaching Nirvana Yourself
My odyssey to Oz began in New York and I was captured by Air Tahiti Nui’s slogan, “relax instead of LAX”. After several trips Down Under, the option of a stop over on my return to NY in Tahiti was too good to be true.
The Byron at Byron is a beacon of specialized stays, a value with dividends. The ability to wander a rainforest, walk to a splendid beach and live like a king or queen is a travel fantasy. The staff was extremely helpful and the GMs reminded me of a type of service that is gone with the wind! The rooms were the best laid out I have ever encountered in visits to 89 countries.
Bangalow and the hinterlands should not be missed period. The realness of rural life in New South Wales is a treat as is the small villages that provide great shopping and food. The hills and macadamia plantations make tooling around more than enjoyable. Click here.
The New South Wales tourism site is chuck full of links and info to my favorite Australian Beach destination.
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