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Travel guide Far North Coast & Byron Bay

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Byron Bay
  • Feel the serenity at Crystal Castle in the hinterland near Byron Bay
  • World famous surfing at Byron
  • Glorious beaches
  • Spectacular Minyon Falls in the hinterland behind Byron Bay
  • Most easterly point on the Australian mainland

Byron is one of those places that attracts almost everyone – because it offers something for everyone.  Once nothing more than a sleepy little surfing village, it has enjoyed a special place in the tourism world for some time now, as it manages to be a hippy haven, upmarket holiday retreat, shopping mecca, dining delight and more.

These days Byron seems to be edging more towards the visitor with money to spend than the backpackers, but there is no doubt that all the market segments are catered for when it comes to accommodation and activities.

As the eastern-most point on the Australian mainland, Byron commands magnificent views and also boasts a very rare north-facing beach at Watego’s.  Main Beach is a glorious stretch of sand, as is Tallow Beach, Broken Head Beach, Seven Mile Beach… let’s face it, there is a beach to suit your every mood!

For those who don’t see the attraction of sand between their toes, Byron also has an amazing array of shops, and while you can certainly find the same sorts of things that you would in a city, the fun is in shopping for those things that you wouldn’t find anywhere else and Byron offers many options in that regard.  You will find high-end fashion and jewellery, street and surf fashion, fabulous homeware shops and accessories to die for.

One shopping experience that you won’t find elsewhere is the Byron Arts & Industrial Estate, which has factory outlets selling everything from shoes to crystals to saddles, and everything in between.  The industrial estate is just off the main road into Byron and is definitely worth a visit.

You can’t visit Byron Bay without visiting the Cape Byron Lighthouse.  This is a pleasant walk or short drive from Byron and is located on a headland 94 metres above sea level.  In winter it is a perfect vantage point for whale watching and dolphins frolicking off the headland are a common sight all year round.  This is a popular spot and has accommodation in the lighthouse keeper’s cottage, a tearoom and souvenir shop.  The views are breathtaking and a stay in the Byron area would not be complete without a visit to the lighthouse, which is a landmark that can be seen from many vantage points in the region.

When it comes to dining out, the options seem to be endless, from the renowned Rae’s at Watego’s and stylish Dish Restaurant and Marvell Bar in Johnson Street to the family-friendly options of Earth’n’Sea Pizza & Pasta and the Beach Hotel.  Caffeine addicts will find plenty of places to indulge their habit and Cafe 101 is a great example of the many quality cafes.  Or take a short, but gorgeous, drive to Bangalow and enjoy a fabulous meal at The Urban, Utopia or Fresca at the Bangalow Hotel.  Marvel at the old-world charm of the high street with its nineteenth century shopfronts, with a decidedly twenty first century array of contemporary art, craft, jewellery and fashion.

While you are in the hinterland and surrounds, you will find nearly as many things to do out of Byron as you will in it. Don’t miss Crystal Castle with its astounding array of crystals and semi-precious stones, a meditation maze and a variety of new age services such as aura reading.  Have a coffee in the Lotus Café and overlook the serene 14 tonne Buddha presiding over the contemplation pool.  Take the kids into Ballina and let them expend some energy at the waterslide and then enjoy lunch at one of the great riverside restaurants.

The hinterland is full of fascinating little villages like Federal, only 20 minutes away from the heart of Byron, which boasts a general store with a surprising array of foodstuffs – and the wine to go with them, along with an art gallery, the Pogelswood Café, tennis courts and access to the many delights of the area, such as the Minyon Falls. Mullumbimby has grown in a delightful way – it is still a country town with utes and a farm co-op, but it also boasts a couple of authentic pubs, some great restaurants and interesting little shops that invite you in. The area abounds with nature walks and every curve in the road invites another amazing view.

The area is serviced by three airports:  Ballina, Lismore and, of course, Coolangatta.  The improvements on the Pacific Highway have cut the trip from the Queensland border to less than an hour, and you can always stop in at the Brunswick Heads pub for lunch to break up the trip.  It is a 9 to 10 hour journey on the Pacific Highway from Sydney, with wonderful options along the way for lunch or an overnight stop.

Byron Bay is really a holiday destination that ticks the boxes for everyone, and every visit uncovers a new delight to explore.

Lisa Monk is a marketing communications writer with a diverse background that includes experience in travel, hotel, finance, public relations and advertising. She has worked with Club Med, the Holiday Inn group and on a number of other travel projects on a freelance basis.  Lisa has travelled throughout Asia Pacific, North America and England.

Lisa now works with TakeABreak.com.au as editor of the Holiday Inspirations newsletter and other publications.  She lives in Sydney with her husband Andy, and sons Joseph and Nicholas.

About the author
Find out more about Lisa at http://bit.ly/h_experts

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  Best sleepy town on the coast
Posted on Jul 29 2010 at 15:13

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