TRAVEL: 48 HOURS IN BYRON.
ONLY GOT A WEEKEND TO PLAY IN THE BAY? FROM FARM TO FALLS, YOU’LL BE SURPRISED HOW MUCH GROUND YOU CAN COVER
DAY ONE: MORNING
My sister and I don’t get to catch up often, but when we manage to synch our schedules for a long-awaited girl’s weekend, the GC’s favourite drive destination beckons. A hop down the highway and we land at pretty plant-based eatery Folk, which is just the place to ease into the laid-back Byron vibe. Timber beams are twined with devil’s ivy and the comfortable interior is studded with treasures from the seventies. They do offer conventional caffeine hits, but where’s the fun in that? We sip a blush-hued, petal-scattered beet and lacuma “love potion” while tossing up between wholesome nourish bowls and buckwheat hotcakes. Nobody seems to notice barefaced and breathtaking actress Isabelle Lucas, who is quietly nibbling her meal in a corner. We’re definitely in Byron.
Folk Byron Bay: Sunrise Blvd, Byron Bay
DAY ONE: MIDDAY
Have you ever wondered exactly how happy a pig in mud can be? They set the bar pretty high at rural hub The Farm. Make Three Blue Ducks’ produce store your first port of call to pick up a picnic basket brimming with local goodies. We’re talking Nimbin Valley cheese, The Bread Social baguette, Naked Byron Dips, chocolate brownies, berries and more, complete with biodegradable cutlery. The fun part is finding the perfect spot to spread your rug. Wander past the floppy-eared pigs in their blissful bath and fields awash with sunflowers. We were lucky enough to meet the Farm’s most famous “hairy coo”, the impossibly fuzzy Braveheart, and his faithful shadow Silence the Lamb. Stop for a snack at the macadamia orchard, where a windfall of buttery native nuts awaits under a leafy canopy. Three Blue Ducks picnic hampers cost $100 each and feed between two to four people.
The Farm: 11 Ewingsdale Road, Ewingsdale
DAY ONE: AFTERNOON
We head to the town’s heart for style souvenirs – nobody does barefoot luxury better than Byron labels. Spell & the Gypsy Collective’s flagship store is a must for the haute hippie. From the 200-year-old Moroccan doors to the Balinese hooks adorning the changing room walls, the gorgeous space will make you want to try on one of everything. Snap up one of the most flattering wrap dresses you’ll ever own at another bohemian beauty, Auguste. Their ankle-swishing signature style is available in a sea of pretty prints, from petals to polka dots.
Spell & the Gypsy Collective: 15 Browning St Auguste: 15 Fletcher St, Byron Bay
DAY ONE: EVENING
Shopping is hard work, but there’s plenty of room for rejuvenation in this weekend plan. Swing from cushioned chairs overlooking lilydotted lagoons, swing from suspended lounges in the pool or swing into the spa – the struggle is real at Elements of Byron, our absolute beachfront home for the night. Just a quiet warning: if you’ve booked into one of their stunning Dunal Villas you’ll probably be tempted to throw the schedule out the window and spend the rest of your stay stretched out on the silvery cow hide in front of the fire or chin-deep in bubbles on the private bathing deck. I’ll confess I was a little late joining the cocktail crowd at the resort’s poolside fire-pit. It’s here I’m introduced to Byron’s Brookie’s Gin. The rainforest distillery produces potions infused
with species native to the NSW North Coast, including aniseed, myrtle, ginger, rye berries and finger-limes. There’s more magic in store for foodies when local ingredients meet world-class culinary talent at Graze Restaurant, the new base for executive chef Simon Jones. The former head chef at Marco Pierre White’s Michelin starred L’Escargot in London is embracing the seachange with a menu spanning grilled Ballina prawns in burnt anise butter to roasted New England lamb rump with native saltbush. The Byron burrata is enough to melt any cheese lover’s willpower.
Elements of Byron Resort: 144 Bayshore Drive
DAY TWO: MORNING
It’s hard to beat a soundtrack of crashing surf for a good night’s sleep, and even harder to tear myself away from piles of pillows in time to join the First Light Club. But it’s so worth it. As the easternmost point of Australia, Byron is the first place to see the sunrise. Greet those golden rays with the in-house yogi, who hosts a free class overlooking the ocean to help guests ease into their day. The resurrective properties of local Marvell Street Coffee will do the rest – it’s waiting alongside bountiful breakfasts at Graze Restaurant. You should have enough time left to squeeze in a treatment at Osprey Spa. Try the Rainforest Revival Ritual with lemon-myrtle scrub and full-body massage.
Osprey Spa: Elements of Byron Resort
DAY TWO: MIDDAY
After checking out of Elements we were hot on the trail of another of my favourite brews: Moonshine Coffee. Intent on bagging some beans from the local roaster’s headquarters in Federal, we stumble on another one of the tiny town’s attractions. Doma Cafe is one of those unexpected finds that will really get foodies going. The humble home serves up incredible, authentic Japanese fare in a doma room with a low-slung table and traditional floor seating or at umbrella-shaded picnic tables. Sample sashimi and tempura haloumi hand rolls.
Moonshine Coffee: 3 Albert Street, Federal Doma Cafe: 6 Albert Street, Federal
DAY TWO: AFTERNOON
Federal punches well above its weight on the food front – mobile reception not so much. Forced to abandon Google Maps, our host proves he’s more than just a sushi-making master when he gives us the hottest tip of them all: Minyon Falls. The 15-minute drive from Federal winds past roadside fruit and veg stalls through picturesque pasture and ancient rainforest. Nightcap National Park’s main attraction, Minyon Falls lookout, is an easy stroll from the carpark. The misty 100m cascade, slicing through a vast palm-filled gorge, is alive with dancing rainbows. Don’t forget to find the pot of gold at the bottom, a rock pool made for mermaids.
Minyon Falls: Minyon Platform Track
DAY TWO: EVENING
Head back into town to catch Byron’s most iconic sunset session. Sneak up to Byron Lighthouse (or take the scenic stairs from the metered parking at Wategos for a bonus workout). The grassy stage that marks Australia’s most easterly point usually inspires some form of spontaneous live entertainment (we scored an acoustic performance from a guitar-strumming backpacker), but you can rely on nature to put on a show. You might even get a wave from a whale.
Byron Bay Lighthouse: Lighthouse Rd