A Weekend Away in Byron Bay

Bryon Bay is one of Australia’s best known beach side towns, and acclaimed for being a surfing hotspot. It is located in northern New South Wales (NSW) on Australia’s east coast, around a 3-hour drive from Brisbane airport. Though Bryon Bay is a haven for surfers, it also hosts excellent scuba diving sites and is home to a conservation park headland complete with the famous white lighthouse. During certain times of the year, humpback whale migrations can also be watched from viewpoints such as the Captain Cook Lookout, or aboard tour boats.

We spent a long weekend soaking up the sights and sounds of Bryon as well as exploring the surrounding hinterland and smaller, quirkier places hidden among the hills. Bryon is a beautiful town and has become even more popular thanks to the frequent cycle of backpackers and weekend visitors. However, this has caused huge traffic problems in the Central Business District. As Bryon Bay is a place famous for its natural beauty and its ability to keep mining and excessive development away, many people felt that such heavy traffic was contributing to its loss of identity, and a lot of effort has since been put into keeping the town pristine and still attracting its visitors.

Byron Bay (author’s own)

Bryon is also known for some award-winning dining experiences, and checking out the abundance of cafes and restaurants is a local pastime. During our stay, we spent more time surfing than eating, but we had some great burgers at the Beachside Hotel. A quieter, yet just-as-delicious, pub called The Railway provides an ‘on track’ dining and beverage experience and boasts a huge al fresco area a few streets back from the crowded beachfront walkway. Alternatively, the website Gourmet Traveller has some great suggestions for eating outside of Bryon, where fresh, organic produce is the norm.

Inland from Bryon there are some exciting tourist attractions including Crystal Cave and the famous weed-happy town of Nimbin. Nimbin is a fascinating place with some really good hippy stores and heaps of handmade items to take away. Further afield but reachable on a weekend trip is Lismore, one of northern NSW’s main towns which was recently hit hard by rapidly rising flood waters in March of this year. The high waters devastated the town and surrounding areas and although it is on its way to recovery, there are still a lot of people and businesses displaced. Some incredible photos can be found here.

For anybody looking to explore NSW, its Northern Peninsula and most easterly point at Bryon Bay are both a must see, whilst for the keen surfer or road trip enthusiast, it is one of the best stops along the coast of Australia.