Wednesday 16th September 2015 – Monday 21st September 2015
Byron Bay is a coastal town in New South Wales, Australia and is a poplar holiday destination known for its beaches and surfing spots. But there are beautiful beaches and great surf spots all over Australia and, upon arrival, I almost wondered what all the fuss was about. Until I discovered what is so special about Byron, it’s vibe. Byron during the day is relaxed and enveloped in small-town soul. I immediately wanted to whip off my flip-flops (or thongs)and braid my hair.
I’m writing this post back in civilisation after two nights out in the forest staying in the Nomads Arts Factory Lodge, a hostel that felt like it was made for those in touch with their hippie side. Like minded individuals tucked into banana pancakes (the best I’ve ever tasted, I may add) or granola topped with berries and yoghurt before heading off to yoga lessons or a nap in their teepee. I stayed with the two girls, Monica and Emma, who I’d met on the bus from Brisbane to Surfers Paradise. It was an experience staying at the Arts Factory and (fun fact alert), this hostel is where The Inbetweeners Movie 2 was filmed!
While staying at the Arts Factory Lodge we took a day tour to Nimbin, Australia’s Marijuana capital, where they say if you hear someone shout ‘taxi’ to expect the police instead as there are no taxis through Nimbin. The Happy Bus tour we went on consisted of a trip to see various waterfalls and view points around Byron Bay before on to Nimbin for a BBQ lunch and a drink in an authentic Australian pub!
Sadly the weather hasn’t been great and, despite loving Monopoly as much as the next man, there wasn’t much as The Arts Factory to keep us untertained indoors. Now we are all back in the dry staying in Byron’s Aquarius Hostel where we are hoping that the weather improves so that we can take part in some of the other activities Byron has to offer! So far – torrential rain and thunder storms. Yay.
Finally the sun shone on Byron and I managed to escape the hostel for long enough to walk up to the Cape Byron Lighthouse and try my hand at Sea Kayaking, from which we saw Dolphins and surfed a wave! I also booked open tickets for all the fun things the coast has to offer; a canoeing and camping trip in Noosa, Fraser Island, a Castaway trip and sailing the Whitsundays. I can’t wait! Today I am writing this post, whilst suffering from a horrible cold, from the Grey Hound bus (yes, I chose to travel in air conditioned, wifi available luxury) on my way back up to Brisbane where I plan to spend a couple of nights before heading up to Noosa! I’ve heard it’s going to be 30 degrees, bring on the freckles!
Things to do in Byron:
- Walk to Cape Byron Lighthouse – James Cook named Cape Byron, Australia’s mainland most easterly point, after navigator John Byron and the lighthouse that stands on the point is a thing of beauty. Take a stroll across the beach to find the start point of the rugged headland walk that will take you to the lighthouse. The walk is also great for dolphin spotting if you’re lucky.
- Go Sea Kayaking – Coming from a small town in the Lake District, UK, kayaking is something I’ve done before. However I was not expecting to have to paddle through incoming waves to get out to sea, which has the possibility in ending with the boat flipping. Luckily I’d bagged by self a fantastic partner, Ellie, who had done this before and we were soon out watching the dolphins do their thing.
- Visit Nimbin – There are multiple companies offering tours to Nimbin and these can often be booked via the reception of your accommodation. We chose the Nimbin Happy Coach, purely as it was the cheapest and had availability.
- Cheeky Monkey’s Bar and Nightclub – Whilst staying at the Aquarius Hostel, one night in burst three men dressed as pirates. “Don’t be alarmed” they said, whilst ramming Captain Morgan’s pirate hats onto our heads, “we’re here to escort you to a party!” And that they did, I’ve never laughed (or partied) so hard. They had gone all out with the decorations and the music was blasting all night! Another of Cheeky’s most well known themes is their UV paint parties and we discovered where the nightclub got its name, all the bad airs are topless except for discretely placed paint!
Where to stay:
- Nomads Arts Factory Lodge – Deep into the forest from Byron Bay’s town centre is The Arts Factory. Accommodation ranges from 10 bed dorms (mixed or single sex only) to the Loveshak (private double) to 6 bed teepees. Prices start at $36pp/pn. There is an on-site cafe and juice bar, a fully equipped kitchen and a swimming pool, bicycle and surfboard hire and a free shuttle bus back to the town centre. Their funky workshops also include yoga, African drumming or didgeridoo making and there is also live music every night at their Byron Bay Brewery.
- Aquarius Backpackers – Relaxed shared or private rooms in self contained apartments. There is also a full equipped kitchen, swimming pool, restaurant, bar and grill, perfect for affordable backpacker meals.
Next stop back to Brisbane!