HEY THERE, BY­RON BAY

Trav­ellers from all walks of life have seen the (first) light of day in this funky town

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Escape - - FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS | BYRON BAY - PAUL EWART

Spec­tac­u­lar beaches, toocool-for-school eater­ies, Zen-in­duc­ing spas, jaw­drop­ping scenery and per­fect waves – it’s lit­tle won­der that By­ron Bay is on the radar for lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional trav­ellers alike.

Po­si­tioned on the north­ern NSW coast, an hour’s drive south of the Queens­land bor­der, the per­fectly sit­u­ated town has been a go-to for surfers and coun­ter­cul­ture types since the ’60s, but these days it’s not only surf hounds and hip­pies who are flock­ing in their droves. Thanks to a hefty cash in­jec­tion from tree-chang­ing city slick­ers, this for­merly hum­ble slice of par­adise has trans­formed into a des­ti­na­tion for de­mand­ing hol­i­day-mak­ers. Yep, these days, vis­i­tors can swim in crys­tal­clear seas, hike in pris­tine hin­ter­land and take in the nat­u­ral beauty, all the while en­joy­ing world­class fine din­ing, fancy re­sorts and ex­pertly made cof­fee. Add to this a friendly, free-spir­ited pop­u­la­tion and a peren­nial sum­mer am­bi­ence and you have a recipe for hol­i­day heaven.

Whether you only have 24 hours to spare or a week, read on for how to make the most of your stay in By­ron Bay.

WHERE CAN I BE A BEACH BUM?

Given the year-round sun­shine and sub­trop­i­cal cli­mate, no visit to By­ron is com­plete with­out daily swims, and hap­pily the area is home to some of the state’s best stretches of sand.

Firstly, head to the aptly named Main Beach. In the thick of the ac­tion, this is the clos­est to town and the most pop­u­lar. Come here at sun­set and you’ll see crowds of back­pack­ers tak­ing in the beau­ti­ful dis­play to a sound­track of bongo drum­mers. An­other go-to is Wat­e­gos Beach. Sit­ting be­low Cape By­ron, this is a great all-rounder be­ing shel­tered, fam­ily-friendly and with ex­cel­lent fa­cil­i­ties, in­clud­ing pic­nic ta­bles, bar­be­cues and toi­lets.

HOW ABOUT CATCH­ING THE BEST BREAK?

One of the world’s most iconic places to surf, whether pro, be­gin­ner, or fair­weather surfer, there’s a break in By­ron for ev­ery­one. The Pass, between Wat­e­gos and Clarks beaches, is known glob­ally in the surf­ing com­mu­nity due to its long, con­sis­tent, right-hand break that caters to most abil­i­ties. As an added bonus, celebrity res­i­dent Chris Hemsworth is a reg­u­lar here, so you may find your­self shar­ing surf space with Thor.

WHAT CAN’T I MISS?

View­ing a breath­tak­ing sun­rise at Aus­tralia’s most east­erly point. The 4km coastal walk that leads to the famed Cape By­ron Light­house is spe­cial at any time, but for se­ri­ous bragging rights time your visit with dawn. A mere 200m from the light­house lies Aus­tralia’s most east­erly point, which means you’ll be the first in the coun­try to see sun­rise.

Af­ter­wards, stroll along the clifftop walk tak­ing in the sur­round­ing beaches and wildlife. Time your visit right and you’ll even be able to see hump­back whales dur­ing their an­nual mi­gra­tion. NATIONALPARKS.NSW.GOV.AU

WHERE SHOULD I CHECK IN?

There’s am­ple ac­com­mo­da­tion op­tions, both in and sur­round­ing By­ron, from self-cater­ing cab­ins and re­sorts, to Airbnb and camp­ing, but one of the best is also one of the long­est es­tab­lished. Set within a lush, 18ha rain­for­est five min­utes from the town cen­tre, The By­ron at By­ron Re­sort is an oldie but a goodie.

Ac­com­mo­da­tion com­prises 92 air­con­di­tioned suites, all nes­tled among the for­est and ac­cessed via wooden board­walks po­si­tioned over the un­der­growth. Wake in a for­est canopy to the sound of the nearby ocean (Tal­low Beach is a short walk away) be­fore mak­ing your way to the In­sta­gram-wor­thy in­fin­ity pool. Flanked by cosy sun loungers and a sauna, guests can also par­take in com­pli­men­tary daily pool­side yoga classes. And if that’s not enough to garner some Zen, the range of in­dul­gent treat­ments at the in-house spa will. THEBYRONATBYRON.COM.AU

HOW ABOUT DIN­NER HOT PICKS?

For din­ner with a view, make a reser­va­tion at Beach By­ron Bay. Lo­cated smack bang on the beach with un­sur­passed ocean views, din­ers can eat while watch­ing dolphins frol­ick­ing and surfers carv­ing it up. Food-wise, you can’t go past the seafood with freshly shucked oys­ters, white an­chovies, fish ce­viche and grilled king prawns tak­ing a star­ring role on the menu, along­side dishes that use or­ganic lo­cal pro­duce, whether it be toma­toes from nearby Coop­ers Shoot, or moz­zarella from By­ron. Guar­an­teed to make your soul and your stom­ach sing.

In the thick of the ac­tion a few me­tres back from By­ron’s Main Beach Bal­cony Bar & Oys­ter Co over­looks the hus­tle and bus­tle of the town’s main thor­ough­fare. Do your best to score a seat on the out­door ve­randa, where the ex­pan­sive deck is the per­fect place to peo­ple-watch and soak in a balmy By­ron evening.

Un­der new man­age­ment for the past two years, the venue chan­nels a sea­side vibe with trop­i­cal palms and white­washed walls.

Wed­nes­days’ $1 oys­ter happy hour are a must for penny-pinch­ers. BEACHBYRONBAY.COM.AU BAL­CONY.COM.AU

AND FOR BRUNCH?

For a top-notch brunch guar­an­teed to sat­isfy even the most picky of big city food­ies, head to the Three Blue Ducks at The Farm.

An out­let of the famed Syd­ney din­ing hotspot that has been pulling in hun­gry crowds for the best part of a decade, the Ducks have ex­tended their culi­nary prow­ess fur­ther north to this work­ing 32ha farm. THEFARMBYRONBAY.COM.AU

WHERE CAN I SINK A FEW COCK­TAILS?

A piece of Mel­bourne in By­ron, the

WITH WORLD-CLASS FINE DIN­ING AND A PEREN­NIAL SUM­MER AM­BI­ENCE YOU HAVE HOL­I­DAY HEAVEN

Bolt Hole is the town’s coolest new wa­ter­ing hole. En­tered via a re­claimed church door, the cosy, vin­tage-in­spired bar is a mix of re­cy­cled fur­ni­ture and an­tiques. While it fits the “small bar” de­scrip­tion, Bolt Hole’s tome of a drinks list be­lies its size – more than 200 whiskies and gins, lo­cal and im­ported craft beers, plus a menu of sig­na­ture cock­tails that just begs to be worked through. THEBOLTHOLE.COM.AU

CAN I GET MY RE­TAIL FIX HERE?

While there’s an ar­ray of bou­tique shops pep­per­ing the town, save your pen­nies for mar­ket day. By­ron Bay (and its sur­round­ing hin­ter­land) are fa­mous for mar­kets and while there are many, the big­gest is the By­ron Com­mu­nity Mar­ket run­ning on the first Sun­day of each month. Stalls span the gamut, in­clud­ing hand­i­crafts, jew­ellery, or­ganic skin­care, can­dles, cloth­ing and an­tiques. For pro­duce-hun­gry lo­cals and vis­i­tors, the weekly By­ron Farm­ers Mar­ket on Thurs­day morn­ings are a must. BYRONCENTRE.COM.AU BYRONFARMERSMARKET.COM.AU

HOW DO I GET THERE?

By­ron Bay has two air­ports within easy reach – Bal­lina, 30 min­utes south, and the Gold Coast just un­der an hour north. Com­bined, all ma­jor do­mes­tic air­lines are cov­ered and there’s am­ple flights daily. Shut­tle buses into town and hire cars are avail­able at both air­ports.

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