It was a tough call after Airlie Beach, do we rush around and have a few nights exploring Fraser Island or do we go to Byron Bay? We first visited Byron in November 2007 and vowed to return and with the little time we have here in Australia we thought that a few nights rushing around Fraser Island and Hervey Bay would be unrewarding. We therefore put Fraser Island firmly on The List for the future and made hay for Byron.
Approaching Byron was a warm feeling. With the exception of Bangkok, Byron Bay is the only other place we’ve been to before; Bangkok is brilliant but we were there more out of necessity whereas Byron Bay is a place we’ve really taken to. We arrived bright and early so there was no need for the customary nap, we packed our bags and headed for the beach. The wind was up and aside from a few brave kite surfers, the beach was a no-go for the first day but as we were new in Byron a walk around town is great way to spend a day. There are strict controls here as to what buildings can look like and they are not allowed to be more than three stories high. You’re left with a gorgeous looking town with a relaxed atmosphere like no other we’ve experienced and it’s quite hard to put into words. The only picture I can paint is one of people sat by the beach playing their guitars, not for money but just because they want to. There’s also the ‘body and soul’ side to Byron; the concept of smoothies and organic food that the world has cottoned onto over the last five or six years has been part of Byron for so much longer. That being said, a huge burger and a dirty pint are just as accessible as elsewhere.
It took us a day or two to catch up on the sleep from the sailing trip and once recovered we decided to take the lighthouse walk. Pezza had been promised it was ‘about a 20 minute walk’. After nine weeks away where the most active thing we’ve done so far has been the jungle trek near Chiang Mai, we were not really ready for this activity. The ‘20 minute walk’ turned out to be two hours and most of it was uphill. Our reward at the top was a stunning panoramic view of Byron Bay.
Hostels and travellers in Australia tend to be different than in Southeast Asia (there’ll be a whole post on this in due course, probably in a week or two when we’re home) but one thing that stands out is the communal nature of the hostels here in Australia. They make the effort to get guests together in activities and nights out and negotiate deals with the local pubs and clubs so it wasn’t long before we were sat in a group of total strangers playing a series of drinking games and drinking bags of cheap goon
There’s not much to write about Byron, I suppose if there was then you’ve missed the point of it, it’s a place to kick back in the day and either take in some acoustic music at night or get thoroughly trashed at one of the rowdy clubs.
When I think of my favourite destinations it’s hard to order them as there’s many different categories. For example it’s hard to compare Tignes, Las Vegas, Barcelona and Byron Bay as they all offer something completely different. Suffice to say, Byron is very near the top. We’ll be back.