a guide to Byron Bay

Posted on May 31st, 2012

I first wrote this guide about two years ago when I was living just outside Byron in an old army shed in the forest. I put it together as a rundown of Things to Do as recommended by me and bunch of rad locals I met so that when you – my mates here on this blog – holiday there, well, you’re sorted. You can also catch up on more of my latest finds here.

photograph by Alex Frings – click on the image for more of Alex’s work

I’ve regularly updated the guide since then because it has proven so popular (and will continue to do so)…if you feel anything’s outdated, please feel free to post a comment below!

As a bit of background, I came to Byron to rest and heal. Which is what it has done for thousands of years. For the local Arakwal Bumberlin people it’s always been a healing and fertility place. The locals say you come here to get healed. Once healed, you need to move on or, if you stay, you must heal others. After 18 months here I knew my time was up. But it will always be a special place for me.

Byron is a unique place. It’s both a sleepy, old-school coastal hamlet in bits, but big bands and performers pass through regularly. It’s full of fancy city types, but the sense of community is potent. It’s transient, but everyone feels they belong. The ladies at the post office know my name. The bank manager chats with me in the street.

Everyone has a theory on the place and why certain phenomena exist. Like, the fact there are seven single women to every single man. (The theory on this one is that it’s due to the area being a female fertility site…men just can’t hack the energy!)

But to the guide…

For a great overview of what the locals are doing, and what gigs are worth seeing, check out Common Ground.

You might also like to read about the road trip I did in the area a while back.

Also, this video featuring my mate Tommy Franklin – who’s since appeared on X Factor -  should give you a breezy feel for things…play it as a soundtrack to this post! If you see Tommy in town he’ll massage your shoulders if you ask nicely.

1. Coffee

My vote The Roadhouse, heading out towards Suffolk Park. My other pick is Top Shop. Which I like to call Facebook Mountain because the scene here, as my mate Tim so aptly put it, resembles a General Pants commercial. They also serve organic milk on request. And everyone sits out on the lawn and chats in the sun in the morning. And if you have a car, be sure to head to Liliana’s out on Possum Creek Rd. This place just opened and it’s in the old schoolhouse out there. The owners are sweethearts. And Can. I. Tell. You….they make the best salmon and asparagus omelette ever. If you’re a pastry fan, well….you’ll be pleased. Worth a drive.

Johnny Abegg is a Filmmaker from Byron Bay and Co-Owner with Kirra Pendergast and Tim Manton at Common Ground. His coffee suggestion is The Roadhouse.

Clare McGregor is a music publicist and suggests the cafe up at the lighthouse – it wins hands down for view. Walk back down the spine of the hill behind the lighthouse and check out the hang gliding jump point overlooking Tallows Beach.

Jordanna is our Community Editor at I Quit Sugar and a former Byron-dweller. She says: The Roadhouse on Bangalow Rd. These kids know their stuff. I love the option of homemade activated almond milk. They don’t stock skim milk because they know it’s crap. They also make the best chai tea in the bay made with carefully selected spices and fresh turmeric and ginger juice.

Sarita Merlo is a naturopath and herbalist, and is the founder of the Byron Bay Tea Company. Her favourite coffee is from Utopia in Bangalow.

coffee at the Top Shop, photo by Johnny Abegg

2. Chai tea/tea leaves

My pick is Naked Treaties. Jemma makes her own almond milk. Jem’s Naked Treatie treats are sold all over Byron – the coconut chocolates are almost fructose free and are 100% organic and sustainable and….you’ve just got to try one!

For something a bit different, head out to Byron at Byron and sit in their lovely garden. And have a massage while you’re there.

I’d also say the Byron Beach Cafe (the one down in the dunes) is best. In part because of this view:

I’d also say anywhere where they sell Prem’s Chai tea. The Top Shop makes Prem’s.

Sam Gowing is a Byron-based spa chef, mentor and nutritionist. She recommends Targa, for their real teapots that don’t drip, and real tea leaves – the best green tea in town.

Lizzie is co-owner of flagship boutique Spell & the Gypsy Collective (so worth a visit…or check them out on Instagram) and says “wherever Byron Bay Tea Company teas are on the menu. Try the Byron Beach cafe, Harvest, Bangalow Dining and Fundamental Food Store Cafe and experience the magic of Byron Bay from your teacup!!!”

Jacqueline McCoach is a Byron-based jewellry designer and owner of ‘Jewels by Jacqueline’: the Beach Hotel. I can vouch for this…such a great atmosphere in the mornings and a local favourite. Great if you want simple and breezy.

Sarita: Harvest wins hands down. Great, friendly staff, great chai (Byron Bay Tea Company chai of course!) and awesome setting in the green rolling hills of byron bay. Perfect start to the day.

Tory works at Splendour in the Grass.  Tory recommends Heritage House in Bangalow for tea and scones. “As well as having on display Bangalow’s charming history in the museum (apparently the building was a former brothel from Qld), what I love about this place is the sumptuous cakes made by the volunteer grannies, who also double as the waitresses. Scones, cheese cakes and melting moments – even asparagus sandwiches, such old-world charm in a divine setting.”

3. Breakfast

The omelette roll at Top Shop is superb. Top Shop make their own bread and pastries, too. The BLT at both Bayleaf and Dip are great. While you’re at Dip try the cashew biscuit – virtually sugar free; just nuts and egg. Harvest at Newrybar is ace for vibe and value (makes for a great excursion en route to Bangalow). And I also love Town in Bangalow. The sauteed silverbeet and mushrooms is great.

My mate Pat from Grinspoon rates Succulent for smoked salmon on toast.

Johnny says his favourite breakfast is Espresso Head.

Jordanna: I’m going to have to vote for the Roadhouse again. They take farm to plate to the extreme with half the produce being grown on a farm just up the road. Love the small select menu, it means everything is super fresh and made with love. They also have fresh coconut water on tap!!! Hello!

4. Burger or pizza, and other easy meals

The Top Shop burgers are amazing (sorry, Top Shop references will stop now). They have fennel seeds in the patty. The eggs and bacon are organic and they bake their own bread and pastries. I also hear over and over that Mac’s Milkbar’s burgers are the bomb. Pizza: Milk and Honey is everyone’s pick (in Mullumbimby), but they don’t do gluten-free. I also love the nachos and fish tacos at the Mexican place on the roundabout in the centre of town. The guy makes all the cornchips you buy around town in Woolies etc. He makes all his own mince and sauces, too. The REAL deal.

And the Thai joint across the road from Woolworths is great because they’ll take out all sugar and gluten for you and the waitress is the nicest in the world! Oh, and The Rails is fun for some local action (and the best pub food in town – look out for the pork belly and the kangaroo special). And I also love Maui’s Feast up near the beach. Quirky as all hell. Vietnamese lamb shanks with chips topped with melted cheese anyone? That said, it works. Somehow.

If you’re after a quirky bar/cafe/wholefood restaurant, you’ll dig this…

OK, the boys who used to make great coffee at The Top Shop have opened a joint just out of town called The Roadhouse. At night it’s a whisky bar and they churn out simple risottos and slow cooked stuff. By day they do organic coffee made with organic milk, fermented turmeric and ginger kombucha, avocado and coconut water smoothies that come in recycled jars, a pumpkin, homemade fermented labna, spec and herbs breakfast with sauerkraut…you get the picture, right? They’re totally Sally Fallon’ed up!

Screen Shot 2013-03-05 at 10.08.11 AM
Fermented ginger turmeric kombucha tea
Screen Shot 2013-03-05 at 10.09.37 AM
A Breakfast of Organic Wholefood Champions: fermented labna, pumpkin, homegrown herbs and sauerkraut with organic milk coffee and turmeric kombucha…

Everything in the place is organic and mostly local. There are herb gardens outside. And a fireplace. Love it. Give Liam and Dwayne a kiss from me (cute, 20-something surfer boys).

If you’re after a raw bar, you’ll be refreshed by this…

I mentioned my mate Jemma’s Naked Treaties in the original Guide. She’s now opened a great place on one of the main drags (down from Targa). It’s astonishingly fresh and healthy. Her smoothies are meals. Try the “I am abundant”…a chocolaty, green, coconutty dream. Say Hi to Jemma from me if you’re in there. She radiates raw good health.

Screen Shot 2013-03-06 at 5.05.42 PM

Sam: Jemma’ s Naked Treaties Raw Bar of course for their new green juices as well as their awesome coconut and cacao smoothies with a pinch of E3Live which I have daily.

Paul owns Art Park, and he says best fish and chips is Fish Mongers - simple, fresh and so imaginative, it’s a wonder no one else does fish like this. The best smoothie is from Banana Buzz at Munch in the industrial estate.  Just incredible.

Johnny: for pizza it’s Milk & Honey in Mullumbiimby by a mile! Heart & Halo is good Indian-inspired cuisine with pizzas and a mint/poppyseed drink to die for.

Sarita: Milk and Honey in Mullumbimby- the BEST pizza in Australia and a must-do after a sweat up in the wood-fired sauna at Kiva. A great thing to do on a rainy day!

Sam: The Lazy Italian in Bay Lane for swift, healthy home-style schnitzels and roast veggies. And Happy Hour at The Byron at Byron 4-6pm Sun-Thurs is still the best kept local secret in town! 

Lizzy loves the ‘house burger’ at Macs Cafe.”The best thai food is Thai Garden in Lennox – it’s worth the 15 min drive out of town. fresh and made with lots of love – it’s my fave!”

Clare: ‘Starfish’ in Brunswick Heads for the best calamari …ever. And ’Rock n Roll’ Cafe in Mullumbimby is great, as is The Poinciana for the Mullum vibe, lovely outdoor tables and sandpit for kids.

A little further afield… Jacqui and two of her cousins just opened a cafe on Shelly Beach in East Ballina. Their focus is gluten, dairy and sugar free foods.  It’s worth checking out!

5. Special dinner

I’ll keep this short and sweet. Pretty much everyone agrees: Italian at the Pacific (the best pork belly and fish), Town in Bangalow,  Harvest Cafe in Newrybar (look out for their special themed/degustation dinners on a Thursday), One One One (open Thursday – Sunday nights; I love their quail). I also think the food is great at St Elmo’s and the service is amazing (try the chorizo with almonds and the beef cheek). All five places rival city joints and aren’t too exey.

Sarita: Raes on Wategos- This has always been the most beautiful setting over looking Wategos beach and some recent changes makes this definitely one of my favourites.

Johnny: Fig Tree Restaurant – with their 100 Mile Menu (everything on the menu is from within a 100 mile radius).

6. Cocktails/wine by the glass

I think St Elmo’s and Italian are best for both. The staff know their stuff. I like The Balcony for a martini and for the sunset experience up there.

Lizzie says the Harvest cocktail menu is unique and different. “Created by Tristan, one of the owners, there is an interesting selection of cocktails using native ingredients such as finger lime.”

Paul says the best beer is the local (award winning) brewery Stone and Wood, “Stone Beer”  closely followed by “Pacific ale” these guys are new and really supportive of all local events.

7. Accommodation

My friends Kerry and Michael stayed at Atlantic Byron Bay during their visit recently. It’s in the centre of town, but back from all the backpacker action, and just across the road from Targa. They stayed in their VERY CUTE Silver Bullet van. In the evenings while they waited for me to grab them, the drank beer from coasters sitting out under the lean-to and channelled 1962. A novelty option. There’s also one and two-room  options. More info here.

My assistant Jo stayed at Atlantic. Jo says, “I stayed in the Coconut Cove section. It’s set up like a hotel – in that you have your own room and bathroom – but there’s a great communal kitchen and open living area. I love that there’s always someone to chat to over a cup of tea in the sun!”

I’ve stayed in their “lodge”. I don’t think they call it a lodge. But it works like this: hotel-size rooms with balconies that feel more like a bedroom in a designer Byron home; own bathrooms; communal kitchen and eating area and deck downstairs; communal gardens; stand-up paddleboards and books and DVDs to borrow.

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The lodges are also part of the Art Park artists residency program (artists come to stay in Bryon and do art at Art Park and stay at Atlantic; their art then displays around the property and is for sale). All of which adds a lovely creative vibe to the place. I love the feel here. Fresh and whimsical.

Is it a good location? Yep. In the middle of town, across the road from Targa restaurant (a local’s favourite).

Also, I reckon Byron at Byron really is a great deal and great for being a little out of the chaos. Lyn and Chrissie are gorgeous authentic operators and will make your stay special.

If you’re visiting as a group or family, you’ll love this place…

I used to ride and run past this place most days. Byron Bay Beach Houses is on the Lighthouse Road, just opposite the Captain Cook Lookout (where I would park to surf The Pass). I stayed in the Havana house, set back from the road and backing onto rainforest. It’s a languid, beachy, breezy family home with two big loungerooms, with generous couches and generous cushions and lots of light and air, four bedrooms (to sleep 10), a pool, barbeque areas and two decks. You getting the picture? Breezy, big and great for entertaining.


I invited a bunch of friends over for an indoor picnic (yep, the storms, the floods), mostly because I wanted to put the kitchen to use. Which is big. Breezy. Fully stocked with good gear.

Is it a good location? Yep. Possibly the best. You’re across the road from the beach and a ten minute walk into town. The place is generously equipped with beach gear and towels. Arrive. Unpack. Set up the Connect Four and thebarbeque kit.

Sam: We stay, and reccy our mates to stay, at Byron Executive Accommodation.

Lizzie also recommends the cottages down on Clarke’s beach. “You cannot get a better posi in Byron Bay- rain, hail or shine you can soak it up down there and get some real relaxation. You can literally roll out of bed, walk 20 metres and lunge in the ocean. Pure bliss!”

8. While in Byron you must try:

One of my favourite things to do is the daily ocean swim. We meet at 8am at the Surf Club, walk to The Pass and then swim back (about 1.5km). A group of 20-50 locals do it every single morning. I do it once or twice a week. First time I did it I got mauled by bluebottles, the second time I swam over a shark. But don’t let that put you off! The old locals who’ve been doing it for decades make it the most wonderful start to the day. Anyone can turn up and swim. It’s free. Also, running/walking from Clarke’s beach to the lighthouse and back is magic. At sunrise. I do it as early as possible and meditate on the eastern most point of Australia with the new sun on my face. I did it the other day, looked up, and there were two whales breaching right in front. Did I say magic?

For hikes: I love Minyon Falls and heading out along the bush track past Broken Head and walking down one of the tracks to an isolated beach.

here’s me and Clive after a morning swim.

Clare: Torakina Beach at Brunswick Heads is great for toddlers. Crystal Castle also great for kids (and adults) – stunning setting, sculpture walk and gardens.

Johnny: an early morning view of the sunrise from the lighthouse still amazes me after 16 years in the Bay.

Sarita: try an espresso martini at Italian at the Pacific. And visit the sauna and spa at Kiva Spa.

Kirra Pendergast is a third generation Byronian and local businesswoman : “a meal and a beer on Friday evening whilst they do the local fishing club raffles at The Rails is always good. Grab a coffee at the lighthouse and walk down to the most easterly point. Snorkel around the Julian rocks.”

Tory: the roadside stalls in Newrybar. My favourite thing to do on a Saturday morning with my son, where we go “shopping” for local produce at the roadside stalls. We arm ourselves with loose change and stop at the stalls to purchase everything from honey, to coffee, fruit, vegetables, fresh flowers and eggs and pop the money into the honesty box.

Lizzy: “go for a skinny dip at the Tea Tree Lakes, ask around and locals will give you directions. And the best kept secret is the rainforest boardwalk behind The Byron at Byron – you wouldn’t know it but it’s open to the public and is a spectacular place to go to meditate or just a gentle stroll…”

Lizzie’s creations, available at Spell

9. If you’re here on a (specific day of week/time of month) you must:

Me, I’d recommend doing the Thursday local farmers market (look out for the raw food stand – the hummus is amazing – and the mushroom ladies – the shitakes almost make me cry – oh, and the ginger couple and the sprouts lady…) and the monthly Sunday craft markets (they rotate around Byron, Bangalow, Mullum and The Channon).

Byron Farmer’s Markets on a Thursday

Sam: if you’re here in winter, enjoy the whale migration. Also, Sundays through Thursdays Happy Hour at the Byron at Byron is full of locals.

Johnny: if you’re in Byron Bay on a Saturday, drive around and have a look at the array of garage sales, unbelievable what people are selling, and the creative measures they go to. Sunday afternoon at the beachfront car-park (overlooking the wreck), when the weather is good, you’ll get a heap of percussionist’s playing tunes until the sun goes down.

Clare: visit in November and go to the Mullumbimby Music Festival – one of the best small scale music festivals around for all ages and persuasions. Loved for its friendly, inclusive atmosphere – quality music (a mixture of popular national/international acts with yet-to-be-discovered surprises) in existing venues throughout the funky town of Mullumbimby.

Kirra: join a beach clean up every tuesday morning at The Main Beach Carpark with Positive Change for Marine Life. Also, check out The Artists Trail at The Arts and Industry Estate. And for the kids – the YAC Rock Cafe every Friday Night at the Byron Youth Service (Youth Activity Centre).

10. Healing treatments:

I love going to Mullumbimby and using Mullum Sari’s infrared sauna. A beautiful space and experience. Then I go to Santos on Main St for a dandelion tea. Worth the excursion.

11. Best massage:

I go to a great local woman who works from home at Suffolk Park with her husband ($45 for an hour): Rachel: 02 6685 4466. The Medicine Wheel is great if you’re after some options and I always tell visitors to hang at Kiva spa in Mullum for a day.

I also love a Thai massage with Kaori at the Thai Massage place opposite Dendy Cinemas.

Sam: For the best Musculo-skeletal massage, the new Tonic Massage clinic is awesome for chronic muscle pain and does HICAPS rebates for private health funds.

12. Whackiest/coolest healing/treatment:

I advise checking out the classifieds in the Echo and the noticeboard at Santos in Mullum. It’s intriguing just how many different esoteric healings one can have!

You might want to book in with Ly the witch. I wrote about her here…she’s based in the area. Email her at Ly de Angeles lydeangeles@gmail.com

Sam: Best Ayurvedic hot oil treatment for chronic  muscle pain - Ambaji House of Wellbeing

Kazzie: Ruth Smith at Abundantia

Sarita says go for a tarot reading from Michelle at Crystal Castle

Sam also says “whenever I’m having a spiritual meltdown I call on Liz Winter, a medium in Mullum”

13. Look out for local talent:

I saw Lisa Hunt play at the Beach Hotel a few months back. I was dropping past to grab a bottle of wine with a friend. I was in my pyjamas…and had to check out what the fuss was about. Oh my. The place was packed with pretty much everyone in town. If Lisa is in town (I think she’s here Sept 4 next)…you MUST go along.

Sam: Tijuana Cartel at the Beach Hotel. Lisa Hunt – Sundays, once a month in spring/summer at the Beach Hotel

Johnny says local musician MT WARNING are a must see, and also upcoming Potato Potato from Mullumbimby.

Clare says always pick up a copy of The Byron Echo – Mandy Nolan’s column(local comedienne) alone is worth it, as is the classified section – yoghurt weaving anyone? The Echo is also the place to check out what bands are playing – loads of amazing bands come through Byron on their tours.The Byron Bay Community Theatre is one of the best venues to catch an intimate gig. Also look out for local record label Vitamin Records – chock full of fine independent talent.

Sarita says look out for Tres Hombres, or DJ Slinky.

Kirra suggests you grab a show at The Byron Community Centre Theatre – Mouche Phillips from Ripe Productions pulls some great stuff through from her days at The Opera House.

14. Shopping:

As you might know, I’m not much of a shopper but I do recommend Spell Designs, Island Luxe (in both Byron and Bangalow) – they stock Jacqueline’s amazing designs there – and Butik. The Retro Shop in Bangalow is very cute (see below) and the craft markets (every Sunday in different towns in the area) is actually very, very cool…not a crocheted coathanger in sight. I also love Art Park. This place is a bit of a hub for Byron’s artistic, surfing, graffiti etc community. It’s a gallery-based clothing company,  an art publisher, an online art store and they also run a series of very fun gallery openings (basically a BBQ in the car park with beer and music and kids skating about), as well as an artists’ residency programme. The gallery/store is in the industrial estate (you REALLY have to head out there for a visit) and some of the world’s raddest artists contribute to their shows, their clothes and their quarterly Art Park Journal. Paul, the owner, is an ace guy and wrote the very funny kids book A, B, C & W: The Country and Western Alphabet . Look out for their Hard Folk baseball caps, too.

Claude who owns Butik in town: check out the Random Junk Yard in Bangalow is called ‘Heath’s Wares”. “I love this place. Even better when I see him at Lismore car boot and follow him around and learn about everything – he is a wealth of knowledge.”

Lizzy:  Visit the Arts & Industry Park… you’ll see glass blowers, silver smiths, gorgeous bohemian labels (like Spell!!), fairy shops, vintage stores, a circus tent, soap and candle makers… it’s the real heart and soul of byron. [The tourist office has a map/trail for the area]

The Spell Shop

The Spell Shop

Tory’s Retro shop in Bangalow

15. yoga classes

I like Byron Yoga above Centrelink – if John Ogilvy is in town, definitely catch one of his classes. He’s one of the best and most entertaining teachers in Australia. Also Ananta yoga: in a grim location (up near Mitre 10 on Jonson St), but Geoff is a sublime teacher. A vinyasa style with tough bits.

Sarita: Byron Yoga- Kirsty, the Canadian, is my favourite yoga teacher by far!

16. extra helpful things:

For a wax/tan: Carla at Be Waxed Be Tanned on Fletcher street is super +61434522240. And a delight to visit. I giggle the whole way.

Surfboards: I bought my longboard from Brett Munro of Munro Handcrafted Surfboards at the Industrial Estate. He’s a Byron legend. An all-round legend. He hand-shapes all his boards and sells quite a few second-hand. The experience was soothing in itself because Brett is THAT laid back. He also lets you take a board out for a trial and will let you exchange if you’re not 100% comfortable. NOTHING is a problem.

Claude stocks Samvara in Byron Bay. She says the best surfboard repair is “the ding doctor”, in the Byron industrial estate.

Any Mac computer issues: this guy is seriously the best computer fixerer on the planet – Tom at Mr Mac (0418 408 869). He comes to you, cleans out your hardrive as part of the service – $80/hour.

Osteopathy/chiropratic. I write all day and it stuffs my posture. My neck gets thrown and so I have to go and get cracked back into place. Not ideal. But you do what you have to do. In Byron I go to Peter. He’s a super passionate surfer who knows a lot!

Photography: Looking for great prints of Byron Bay? Check out Alex Frings photography

Video store: Paul suggest Late night Video.  Owned by film buffs everything is there: cult, horror, TV series, directors , popular flicks  and obscurities.

Car wash: why not try these guys at Gold Coast airport. I drop my car off when I have to fly interstate. It’s done and ready when I get back. Super cheap!

Hope that helps…feel free to add your own tips below…







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  • Adam Cordner

    Aw man this is hard reading sat here in the office :(

    Now that I’m day dreaming about an escape, do you know of a good place to stay, preferably eco friendly?


    Lyn McCarthy Reply:

    Possum Creek Eco Lodge just outside Bangalow. x


  • http://www.180nutrition.com.au/blog Guy

    Seven single women to every single man! Now I know why my mate has just moved to Watego’s…..


    Jenny Reply:

    7 to 1? What about the quality over quantity question?

    I’ve been told it’s mostly middle aged women that are slightly feral or going through their own mid-life crisis (or The Change).

    No wonder all the men have scampered!


    Kirra Reply:

    Or the constant stream of drop dead gorgeous backpackers through here every day!


  • http://innerbeam.com Sarah Rose

    Sarah, you’ve already piqued the interest of the men with your one liner about the man to woman ratio, nice ;-)

    This was timely as it was just yesterday that I decided my next holiday ought to be near Byron. The thing that gets me excited is to hear about being able to drink coffee, I hear you on the adrenals affect (thyroidy types), here in Melbourne I have to be really careful and am often on decaf :-s I love my coffee and would love to be able to enjoy without all the cruddy side effects, so next holiday is Byron for sure!! Very interesting about the energy of the place, I’d like to research that more in relation to Victoria.


  • Mia

    Best thing ever = Byron Bay Cookie Company!! They do gluten free cookies that actually taste like real cookies. (Celiacs will understand that sentence!) I haven’t had one in ages due to nixing the sugar for a bit, but any celiacs who aren’t so strict, oh man. They are divine. You can get them most major cities in Australia now, which is rad.


    jan Reply:

    They sticky date cookies are the best!


    Mia Reply:

    With the ginger? Oh Lordy, its like heaven in my mouth. The macadamia ones are something special too.


    jan Reply:

    Yep they are the ones – it’s a long time since I’ve had one because I used to be able to buy them at work in the cafe but they don’t get the Byron Bay cookies anymore. Not happy Jan :( If I remember rightly the macadamia ones had white chocolate in as well, oh dear, maybe all this talk of Byron Bay cookies has sent me scavenge for something sweet this afternoon!

    Mia Reply:

    They sell them at a place in Perth called the Wild Fig cafe, which from what I can tell is set up to be a bit like a typical Bondi cafe but in Perth. You know, beach views, vegetarian/organic/gluten free options, relaxed feel. A lot of other cafes around here sell them, and Perth is pretty much a black hole for anything new/ inventive, so surely wherever you are Jan there are some around!

    Failing that I think you can go onto their website for stockists. Or, you know, order them in packs of like 35. Dependent on your level of cookie addiction. :)

    jan Reply:

    Oh dear, me ordering 35 at a time would be a recipe for disaster!

  • Penny

    I remember talking to a real estate agent who worked around Byron Bay and Murwillumbah and she was saying so many new couples who moved to the area split up because men ‘didn’t do very well in the area’, not in a monetary sense but as in they did not feel anchored or secure. It got me thinking about rural, western areas and how there is a much larger male population. Masculine vs feminine landscapes.


    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah WilsonSarah Wilson Reply:

    It’s VERY intriguing. You see it very clearly here.


    Rachel Reply:

    From an indigenous perspective, I heard that Byron was considered a healing place, so perhaps there’s a strong feminine presence in the area. Looking at landscape feng shui would also be interesting (I’m a practitioner and eternal student of the subject)!


    Fiona Reply:

    Masculine vs feminine landscapes? More like a feral/weirdo vs people-who-have-jobs landscape I think!


    RoDyCa Reply:

    Never judge a Byron Shire Feral! They quite possibly own the Cafe you’d be happily drinking in – or designed the amazing outfit you just bought… :)


  • http://heavenlyingredients.blogspot.com Laura

    I’m so overdue a trip to Byron!


  • Johhny

    Personally, Byron is not my thing. When I was last there a little over a year ago, I got the sense that it was full of early 20 somethings trying to do as little as possible. The amount of people in cafes simply just “hanging out” was astounding. I just got the feeling of laziness in the community. To be honest, I was disgusted. I also didn’t dig the shops either – I don’t need a dream catcher for God’s sake. The fresh, clean food is good, but it’s not exclusive to Byron. One last thing, hippie culture kind of gives me the shits anyway. It should be called “I can’t be f*cked culture”. If you can’t be pro-active about having a shower, you probably can’t be arsed doing anything else either.


    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah WilsonSarah Wilson Reply:

    I know what you’re referring to. A good place to be if you’re SUPER busy and the relaxed vibe is both a reminder of a) how to relax and b) why you like beign a busy person!


    Johhny Reply:

    That’s a good point. I also think that about living on your own. It’s great if you are super busy (great to come home and chill and shoot off again) but if you aren’t busy it can get pretty dull.


    RoDyCa Reply:

    Sure, Byron is not for everyone? The early 20 somethings are nearly all Backpackers – lucky them doing nothing – but they sure add to the character of the town – and its economy. People just hanging out in cafes are quite probably other tourists like yourself, Johnny (looking at you and wondering why you’re not at work!). No one NEEDS a Dreamcatcher! I agree soap is cheap. It’s not Metropolis for sure. It is, in essence, still a small coastal town – with a fantastic community that I’m lucky to be part of.

    Mia Reply:

    Johhny, I know what you mean exactly without ever having been to Byron! Its interesting how certain places just have that feel, and attract free-floating hippie types. I think Fremantle in WA can be a little like that. They have a blues & roots festival that echoes Byron’s, incidentally. People are funny when they mirror each other!

    mel Reply:

    such a valid point johnny, I’m in the process of sorting all these questions out too. i really yearn to move from sydney to the country where i grew up and of course couldn’t wait to escape from. But am i going to soon miss the energy of the city once the novelty wears off. i know in many ways my child would benefit from space as opposed to apartment living. it does get lonely, you do feel restricted. hard one.

    Mick Reply:

    The hippy culture in Byron is fast fading and will be sorely missed, as property prices mean the pig headed tacky property developers and yuppies do their usual thing of trashing the very thing that attracts people to a place…. (I live in B yron Shire, but not Byron itself, and work full time… for what it’s worth). The alternative lifestylers, irritating as they can be at times, add to the colour and atmos of the place. You can see over priced corporate claptrap anywhere,and the Gold Coast is just up the road if that’s your thing… and I often think people complaining about others lazing in cafes are possibly jealous…


  • http://woodandbone.co Beau

    ah, amazing review. you’ve captured the essence of byron, i feel. i miss that place. the beach hotel is one of the most amazing places. i’ve had some of my best nights there. i love the sleepy, warm, organic, down-to-earth feeling byron, bangalow, possums creek, balina, lismore… that whole area! one of my favourite places in the world.
    i moved to sydney for uni, and i can’t wait to go back home! can you take more pictures of the locals, the surroundings. i wish i had more photographs of the place :P


  • Claire

    Ahh yes, Byron. I. Interesting energy. I moved there 3 years ago with my fiancé..living the dream, beautiful house, ocean views. We had been together for 4 years living together in Melbs and Sydney…We lasted 3 months in Byron…Very sad. I have heard many indigenous say Byron is a place for healing and then moving on…


    Johhny Reply:

    Why did you leave Claire?


    claire Reply:

    My body pulled me out of there, I actually became physically ill. I then moved up to Mullum..did some further healing and moved on..


  • Erika

    Bad odds for finding a husband Sarah! What are you doing!?


  • Jasmin

    I live in Casino but we go to Byron a few times a month or so and love going to the bangalow farmers markets. I love the chilli garlic squid from Fishheads, it’s amazing! Also Starfish in brunswick for the calamari, and for health I have to say the Rainbow Centre in Lismore!
    I’m envious of you Sarah, oh what I would give to live in Byron (or Bangalow)! xx


  • Anna

    Sarah, in a few of your recent articles the idea of “for now” is quite dominant. Is this your way of not committing or an easy escape plan if all goes pear shaped?
    Can you see yourself staying there long term or is it the type of place which one could quite quickly tire from? (have never been there but it seems like people move to reassess life and rebalance then move on).

    Probably a good place if you’re a woman into same sex relationships, but not for trying to find a husband! Perhaps you need to move Mt Isa or Port Hedland when the ratio of men to women is reversed.


  • Anna

    Oh & I just noticed the photo of you in bathers. Your body has totally changed from your Cosmo bikini days! You have a much more feminine & natural look about you now. Glad to see you’re eating these days.


    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah WilsonSarah Wilson Reply:

    ahhh, it’s called getting older.


    Mia Reply:

    “Glad to see you’re eating??” Wow… bitchy.


    Jan Reply:

    It didn’t sound like a bitchy comment. Sarah was extremely skinny in the Cosmo bikini shot.


    Mia Reply:

    And another woman’s weight is your business how, exactly?

    I used to be really skinny and would have people stop me in the streets, shout at me from passing cars, complete strangers offering me their opinions on my eating habits. I know now that I was probably hyperthyroid, as I became hypo later on and had other symptoms, etc. It’s very presumptuous and rude to assume a thin woman doesnt eat.

    We really need to stop judging other women by what they weigh. Especially since Sarah mentioned hyperthyroidism in her past. So disappointing!

    jan Reply:

    Whoa Mia, I can’t believe that people were so rude to you! I have had several very slim friends who eat like horses and don’t put on weight and that can be just as psychologically devastating as those of us who carry a few extra pounds and put up with rude comments! When you read the latest about how many 4-6 year old girls are unhappy with the way they look, it makes me cringe as to how we are going to develop young adults with strong, resilient natures who are happy to be who and what they are.

  • Mia

    Just read the twitters and your knee – sounds v painful :(

    Do you think this might be the 3rd sign ( along with fractured foot & getting stuck in the swamp) you need to slow down and stay put for a while (& perhaps finish your book)?

    Hope you recover quickly :)


  • http://www.mikewilde.com mike wilde

    For now .. sounds like a nice place to get your shit together if you’ve got other stuff going on.
    Thanks Sarah .. liked your “feelings’ blog too.

    Looking forward to more on you and Louise Hay.


  • http://www.heathmissen.com.au Heath

    Agree with Lizzy re the Arts and Industry Part – it may not be pretty but many interesting types at work behind concrete walls and roller doors.

    Best burger – The Beloporto chilly chicken burger.

    Suspicious about the 7:1 ratio.


    adelphi Reply:

    No really it is 7:1…(or more) and for the most part the single women you meet in this region are fabulous…interesting, switched on, talented, intelligent…..mad to move here really given the odds…still a morning lighthouse walk, a swim and a great coffee keep me here…


  • http://cheekycharlie12wbt.wordpress.com Katie

    This is a lovely piece on an area that I have had a relationship with since I was a young girl. My parents live in the area now (Ewingsdale).
    Anyway, since you love riding and the beach (or so I assume from your writing) I thought I would let you know that my dad has recently started doing beach rides in the area. They meet at Belongil and ride north up the coast when the tides are out. He loves it.


  • Catherine

    Sarah………………. can I come and live with you?

    (as I sit her with my head tilted trying to get the antibitoic ear drops remain in my ear for the infection…)


  • miss mac

    ok this post makes Byron sound like a great holiday (but not to live) destination. Sarah, do you have any advice on yoga classes? Is Jessie Chapman worth it?


  • http://spellsjewellery.blogspot.com/ Lizzy

    What a gorgeous guide… If I didn’t already live here I’d want to move here myself. Thank you darl’n – this is such a generous guide for anyone visiting – or even for someone who lives here and is stuck in their own routine (like I didn’t even know there was a cafe at the lighthouse???! And heading to Dip to try one of those cookies tomorrow.) xx Lizzy


    Kat Reply:

    Lucky you Lizzie :)


  • http://www.samplennsw.com Holly

    Hope to see you Sarah & everyone at one of Byron’s many festivals – Sample Food Festival at the Bangalow Showgrounds Saturday 10th September 9am – 3pm.
    There will be 22 food stalls serving $5 and $10 dishes competing for the coveted Golden Fork Award as well as cooking demo’s, markets, live music & entertainment all day.
    Will be a great day ;-)


    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah WilsonSarah Wilson Reply:

    Nice. The food around here is superb


    Kirra Reply:

    nice Holly x


  • janine smith

    Hi Sarah,I think I saw you on a flight the other day ,fantastic work honey,love your list ,I have a few things i would add but its pretty bloody good love xxx Jan smith


    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah WilsonSarah Wilson Reply:

    you should’ve said hi!


  • http://elishayarrington.blogspot.com/ elisha yarrington

    Hi there Sarah,

    I am from Byron Bay but have been living in Sydney for 3 years.

    I miss home dearly and all my family & friends. Johnny is a good friend, nice see you have met him & Lizzy :) I have begun to feel the pul to move back home, i miss the energy and the inspired people.

    I also just read your article on Louise Hay- i have been a massive fan since i was 14 and live by her words. What an honour it would have been to meet her!

    My mum also does the ocean swim nearly everyday! You may may have met her, Sharon Yarrington a bubble of positive energy!

    I love writing and i started a blog sometime ago called Mind Body Spirithttp://elishayarrington.blogspot.com/ Unfortunately since i have been working full-time i have not had time to write, which saddens me as this is my passion. If you have a moment you should check it out :)

    Peace Love & Light



  • Lili

    OK Sarah, what’s the deal with your front teeth? There’s that gap again (bikini photo).


    KK Reply:

    yessus man. who cares! what kind of question is that to ask somebody..


    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah WilsonSarah Wilson Reply:

    no gap. must be the lighting.


  • Stephanie

    I don’t even live in Australia and I felt a surge to fly into Byron! I once did a swim race there, I think in 1999, maybe in May or June? It was quite a big event. I thought Byron was a beautiful place, but wasn’t really captivated by the overall energy. Maybe it was too slow for me at the time!! Love your red bikini, by the way.


    Stephanie Reply:

    PS Sorry – forgot to add that you’re inspiring me with your lifestyle experimentation. I’m very impressed (and frankly envious!).


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  • http://www.heliconiabyronbay.com John Johnstone

    Hi Sarah,
    Just love this site.
    We have just loaded our own website for our much loved Beach House at Kiah. I would love to put a link on our site ton yours if you approve. I feel your advice and tips are genuinely good and we enjoy so many of the locales our selves when we are in Byron.

    We in fact live in Rarotonga, Cook Islands for most of the year and come to Byron 3-4 times a year. FYI our website in the Cook islands is http://www.heliconiahideaway.com

    Thank you for such a great site…
    By the way Lisa just has to be one of the best live acts …ANYWHERE!…we are in fact trying to get her over here in the Cook islands.


    RoDyCa Reply:

    Raratonga: Fruits of…
    Tamarind House meals
    Pa’s Tours
    Daily Flights to Aitutaki!


    You and yours really are living the dream!
    Oh well- at least I’m living the Byron half :)


    John Johnstone Reply:

    Yes we are living a dream…but as with all things we still have to work hard at it every day to make it happen. The Cooks are a wonderful place to live…and for us we have Byron to run away to when we need some difference.


  • http://www.livingsavvy.com.au Jo-living savvy

    We used to walk to the top shop from clarkes camping ground when we camped as a family every Easter many many years ago! Next time I take my family down in a
    few weeks although we don’t camp, we stay at a retro cabin on the beach, I’ll get them to walk up there for breakfast.


  • http://www.cassandrallen.blogspot.com Cassandra

    Look at you hot woman! How do you fit all that you do into one life Sarah, truly amazing. Thanks for the info, am bookmarking for the future.


  • http://karlosophies.blogspot.com Karlosophies

    I did a 5 year stint in Byron (well, more Suffolk and then Bruns)… my husbands family live in the area and we still ‘go home’ every few weeks (now based on the mid north coast). Headed ‘home’ last weekend, but strangely felt it was no longer ‘home’. I’d had romantic ideas about moving back but now I’m not so sure. Think I may have finally mentally moved on – with the price of housing, it would have only been a lotto win that could have brought us back anyway.

    Sarah; Did you have the pleasure of meeting Jonno Howell? He had a bit to do with the Common Ground crew. An old staff member of mine, and a true legend. RIP matey!


  • Angela

    Have to agree with Kazzie about Ruth Smith from Abundantia/Ruth Smith Healing for a blow-your-mind-healing session.

    Also for massage try Lucy Foster – most fantastic massage of all time…goes forever and is thorough and hard–but not too hard. (she comes to your place…0424 030 190)

    Not so sure about the Top Shop anymore – haven’t been back since they charged me $5 for a coffee!!!


  • http://www.puredrift.com Trent

    Hey Sarah,

    Stoked you published my shot (the top one). Take them daily here in Byron in http://www.puredrift.com.

    Great article.




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  • Libby

    This is so cool… A few weeks before I went to Bondi for the first time you posted a guide and now this time I am off to Byron for the first time at the end of the month!
    Perfect timing I say, thank you Sarah xx


  • Angela

    As with Karlosohies (hello my dear), I also lived in the area for six years – absolutely loved it, and had a love affair with Byron since I was 17- experimenting with lots of different things, freedom, spirituality blah blah. I think it really is an area to be lived in to experience. If you trip up there and stay in town you miss the essence. The essence is not the main drag of Byron – most locals will hardly go to down, particularly not in peak times..I would say you need to experience the nature and hinterland, behind Mullumbimby for example. Experience the whales travelling passed, watch a mullet school being rounded up, participate in the community (I had a health a lifestyle radio show which was a blast!).
    Yes, I agree there is a hazy vibe often with people bored out of their brains. Too much drugs and lazy attitudes.
    But the area is buzzing, if you have yourself on track there is a huge creative vibe to tap into. I definitely think its a healing and mixing area..Indigenous people would gather there, but tales say they did not live there per se…who knows. The nature is stunning, some of the people there are stunning. Love the Top shop, swimming at Tallows, lighthouse, Broken Head back beaches, Wanganui…
    Great tips from Sarah for anyone visiting…and chuck your radio dial to 99.9 – some shows are hilarious! Def a way to tune into the area :)


  • Juliette

    I grew up in the area, and also returned to work there about 5 years ago for 2 years. Don’t understand the hype about Byron. To me it has been destoyed. Always feel disappointed when I return and see all the internet cafes, youth hostels and wanky shops.

    There are thousands of beautiful, unspoilt places around Australia where you can also get a great coffee, without the pretentiousness and “coolness”.

    Apart from it now being an obligatory part of the backpacker journey, it also is full of people who move there and change their names to Bluebelle, or Lizard.

    Anyway, I don’t always like the vibe of “cool” places.


  • http://www.the-twelfth-hour.blogspot.com Sarah

    Spot on Sar.

    Thanks for the St. Elmo praise! Sorry you had to sit on the teeny table the other night. We were pretty jam packed that night.

    Have you been to Muoi’s Feast? It feels like youre on somebody’s back patio but the food is really great and value for money. Good for a casual dinner with a girlfriend. Plus it’s BYO haha! Not many tourists know about it :P

    Oh and also, as well as M JackBee, check out Garrett Kato. Absolutely amazing talent! Pretty sure they’re playing at The Treehouse tonight if anyone is interested.


  • candice

    Kinoko Japanese – Seared tuna salad
    Orgasmic Felaffel – Felafel Pocket with sauerkraut
    Milk & Honey (Mullumbimby) – Mushroom Pizza & Pear & Walnut Salad
    Yellow Flower (Suffolk Park) – Sticky date pudding with espresso sauce
    Santos Health Food Store/Cafe – Chai carrot cake
    Treehouse – Desert Nutella Calzone


    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah WilsonSarah Wilson Reply:

    I’ve seen that calzone! Oh my!


  • Matt

    Ahh, Byron Bay!
    Such an abundance of natural energy and natural beauty that surrounds Shire….how could you not want to spend some time there to reinvigorate yourself?!?! I for one support the move.
    The power of the place is amazing…Living in the shadow of the majestic Wollumbin (Mount Warning), with the rolling hills that lead down to the white beaches and bountiful Pacific Ocean. It is easy to understand why this is a sacred site for the indigenous people, for the eclectic bunch that call it home and for the thousands of tourists who visit to touch its soul.
    It is a must to make the pilgrimage up to Cape Byron and stake your claim to your own personal space to watch the sun rise, even better if you can share it with that special person. It is majestic to watch her rise up across the horizon and feel her touch upon your face. If you’re lucky (like Sarah) you will get to witness some of the incredible marine life which calls this sanctuary home.
    Also a must is to tackle some of the many walking tracks that wind around the foot and up to Cape Byron. Very peaceful and sometimes the road less traveled by the majority of visitors.
    Take the time to get away from main beach and enjoy a swim at either Little Wategos beach, pack a picnic and stay for lunch, or Cosy Corner where a late evening swim might be the order on a nice summer’s day. For those who want the authentic experience or that of old Byron the one that everyone yearns for the return of, visit Sunrise Beach. It is close to the old days as you can experience. Walk through an old farm and out onto the beach – absolutely divine. Just don’t tell anyone.
    Moving away from the beaches and onto my favorite places to eat…Nothing new they have all been mentioned, though I will provide support for those who have preceded me. Bayleaf is by far the best café in town, closely followed by the Top Shop. Reason being – the Buttermilk Pancakes with Honeycomb butter are sensational. Apologies I know they are high in sugar, but you have to have a vice in life. The coffee and barista are great too. O-Sushi speaks for itself – quick & easy and great variety. My favorite Thai restaurant is Thai Lucy – not for the aesthetics, but for the quality food. As Candice said, Orgasmic Falafel – sensational pockets to take away and eat at the beach. The Treehouse is my favorite….how can you beat riding your cruiser along the beach or via the bike track to eat the organic pizza? Oh and the stroll up to the beach for an evening swim.
    Ok back to the beach. I can’t stay away for long. The “Pass” and “Wategos” are the perfect place to learn the surf, but please ensure you understand the rules of engagement first so you don’t upset the locals. Also jump on a Kayak and explore Cape Byron on the water – you never know what you will see. If you are visiting in summer try scuba diving, it is a must! The marine life in Byron is second to none. Visit the team at Byron Bay Dive Centre for a memorable experience.
    With all the activity that you should immerse yourself in it is a must to also pamper yourself and the best way I have achieve that is to visit Shambala on Carlyle Street for a massage….the real deal.
    Byron also has the markets that are worth a visit especially the local markets on Thursday and if you are spending a little more time in town – stock up on the local produce, but the Sunday market also provides a good shopping experience.
    There also many experiences outside of Byron. Visit Mount Warning and climb it for one of the best views going around, go mountain biking through the rain forests (visit mountain bike tours Byron Bay), take a bush walk to Minyon Falls, and much more – don’t limit yourself.


  • http://www.lavittoria.com.au Victoria Cosford

    Really enjoyed reading what people enjoy in this region. But I have to point out a little error : Satiate in Bangalow has been bought from Shannon by Karl and Katrina Kanetani (Katrina was pastry chef at Pier) who are putting their own stamp on it. It was always good and may now be gooder! Katrina appeared on MasterChef this last series. Her cakes are wonderful!


  • http://www.summerhills.com Francesca

    Hi Sarah,

    Being a local myself, I must say, your list here is pretty comprehensive. Impressive for only 6 months how much you’ve tried. LOL.

    I’d like to add the “Bangalow Pub” to your “best eateries” section, for its outstanding flair at showcasing all the amazing local produce, Bangalow Duck, Bangalow Beef, Bangalow Cheese, the 2 x Bangalow (Sweet) Porks, and the list goes on. Also one of my faves is FishHeads in Bangalow which has a wicked midweek madness menu for $35 for 2 courses and a glass of wine! The options are all off the a la carte menu, so you’re not stuck with stodgy or dodgy options just because it’s heavily discounted. It’s fantastic value considering most “Fish of the Days” are around $30 alone. We ate there last night and the Blue Eye Cod on cannelini beans and local chorizo was to die for.
    Open fireplaces are a dying breed, but both the “Bangalow Pub” and “The Harvest” have a fire going all during winter – such a treat.

    Also a correction Sarah to an error in your mention of Satiate (sorry). It has recently been taken over by Katrina Kanetani who was on MasterChef 2 Mondays ago (Shannon Debreceny is the old chef from Satiate who just sold to Katrina and her husband Karl who is of Japanese/Hawaiian descent and he wows us with his food from his heritage). Katrina is the only pastry chef in Australia to win the coveted “Chef of the Year” award, and she won this in 2007. It’s so fantastic for the Bangalow village to have Katrina and Karl as our local chefs now.

    We have such fantastic produce, restaurants, vintage/antique outlets, boutiques with one off’s and art galleries in Bangalow, that it’s worth allowing yourself a day or two (at least) to spend some time in Bangalow if you’re heading to the North Coast. Also Heath’s Antiques in Bangalow is a must-go-see if your a bowerbird, just for their incredible array of ecclectic collectibles. Speaking of bowerbirds, a new collectibles shop has opened in Bangalow, called “BrauerBirds”. Run by the “Brauer” family (a pun on the word bowerbirds), it has gorgeous silk clothes designed by Hannah Brauer herself, very funky, and a host of beautiful collectibles too. I just bought an old fashioned compass for my son from BrauerBirds last week, with the “Road Less Travelled” poem engraved in tiny letters on the back of it. Very cool. Very Unique.

    Hope this helps :)

    SummerHills Retreat Byron Bay


  • joanna

    Hi there,

    I think if you seriously want to live a more simple life then you need to visit local businesses that are a lot more humble than the ones you highlight.

    The Top Shop for example is such a scene – it’s full of Bondi types and nobody middle aged. Compare it to a corner store somewhere like Lismore and you’ll get a reality check.

    Most of the people you have interviewed for this piece are young, style-orientated trendsetters (fashion designers, photographers etc)… if you interviewed more widely and chose a few ‘regular joes’ you’d get vastly different answers…

    It shows that you’ve only been here 6 months because you’re still living the life of a tourist.



    Janine Reply:

    I was thinking it too, I just couldn’t quite word it..and worse..after paying the rent, who can actually afford coffee in that town/ region?..trustagarians or inheritancafarians…eeek!!!…Nothing is real, everything is permitted.


    Janine Reply:

    Sorry meant to write trust-ta-farians…bottom line of what I wanted to say is Byron is terribly pricey, tourist pricey. It makes it hard to actually live there. There’s a kind of tag team of people arriving and departing, departing broke arriving with hope…I felt like I was back in bondi….same sameness…


    Amy S Reply:

    Sarah said she has been in Byron for 18 months, not 6.


    Jen Reply:

    Yes well you only have to live here for 5 mins to call yourself a local – with the exception of Kirra, most of the ‘locals’ Sarah canvassed, including herself are blow ins. It’s evident by their limited choices.

    This post should really be called the ‘Bondi Blow-ins, Blink and you’ll miss it’ guide to Byron Bourgeois Bay’.

    But that’s ok, cos by focusing on tourist rather than community needs, Byron keeps the rest of the Shire beautiful and affordable for those of us who really do ‘live’ here. And when we need our ‘city fix’ we head to the bay. So out of towners – enjoy the bay and keep the Sushi bars open for us residents :)


    Pat Reply:

    I’m sorry but I’m not sure Sarah was looking at Lismore for this inspiration for her Byron Bay guide…
    If you are looking for a humble business, look no further than the Top Shop, those guys are locals, employ locals, and feed locals of all ages, healthy locally sourced food. On my regular visits, the schools kids, local doctors, tradies, nurses all mix with a smattering of tourists and I’m sorry but half of them are middle aged!!

    Get in touch with your town, it’s actually a nice place!


  • David

    Hi Sarah,

    I was skypeing my daughter in Vancouver this morning & she sent me your Byron blog link. She suggested I send to the guests at my Byron holiday let (www.stayz.com.au/561235), which I’ll do, as it’s a perfect ‘up to date’ guide to BB. As a Byron ‘local’ for 7 years, I agree with all of your recommendations. I’m a bit like you – based in Byron but on planes to Sydney & Adelaide most weeks. I love coming home to Byron each week ….

    Can you reccomend a good nutritionist in BB (my daughter sees Sally Joseph in Sydney and says I should go to her, but though there might be a good local?)



    Francesca Reply:

    Hi David

    Try Dr Inga Schader at the Bangalow Medical Centre. A god-send to the NorthCoast, only recently arrived here 6 months ago. Western trained GP but also extensively trained & deeply experienced and committed wholistically, prescribes mostly herbs/minerals rather than drugs, and an excellent nutritionist.

    SummerHills Retreat


    David Reply:

    Thanks Francesca …. much appreciated. I also need a new Byron GP (my really good SYD doctor retired) :) David


    Nick Reply:

    Hi David just saw your question regarding a good nutritionist in the Byron area, I see Sally Joseph also, she is fantastic, really knows her stuff and last I heard was living between Byron/ Bangalow & Sydney. You could probably find her through her website http://www.sallyjoseph.com.au. I know Sarah has seen her also and Inga contacted her when she moved to Bangalow. They might make a good combination for you! Good luck with it all.

    Jess Reply:

    Hi David… The Stayz address you listed doesn’t seem to be right? Jess


    David Reply:

    Hi Jess – sorry ! it’s http://www.stayz.com.au/56135


  • bangalow lass

    Thought someone would let the cat out of the bag about the locals secret spot the Top Shop – time to find a new cafe for the Sunday morning coffee after the lighthouse walk as it will be now be inundated! guess nothings sacred in th Bay anymore , guess thats why all the locals moved out years ago and leave the place for the tourists!


  • http://www.pizzaguide.com.au/ Pizza guide

    Mostly I ever visited the blogs are so very interesting to read and i huge fan of bloggers and would like to blog in..


  • isabelle

    Just looked up the ratio thing to support an argument I made in an essay for uni & found this … might dispel the myth of women to men ratio !!!

    In the 2006 Census (which is the latest still, untill the recent one comes out), , there were 28,766 persons usually resident in Byron Shire: 14,146 residents (49.2%) were males and 14,620 (50.8%) were females.

    actually pretty close huh … !


  • http://www.byebyemythyroid.com Nicky

    23 sleeps and counting – I cannot wait!!!! thanks so much for the list Sarah… I am determined to make good use of it…..


  • Eva

    What about the Pighouse Flicks cinema for a cool Byron experience? They show great Indie and foreign films and have just had a beautiful refurb. They also screen local film-makers’ work every now and then which is fun too…….


  • http://www.etnix.com.au Sophie@Byron bay clothing

    Very good piece of info! thank you for the efforts you have made in writing it…Byron bay is my favorite holidaying destinations for surfing, funky clothing shopping as well as awesome food.


  • Bernadette

    Just had a gorgeous few days in Byron – thanks for so many tips, Sarah. Just a bit of feedback:

    – Byron Beach Cafe – great views but way overprice.
    – Loved Top Shop, esp the wooden cutlery, burgers & def best coffee around
    – Farmers Market on Thursday was great. Esp loved the raw food stall near the entrance and the stall selling Bangalow coffee
    – Loved walk along the beach heading to Lighthouse. Much easier walk back to town via road!
    – Best food at St Elmo. Great place to share dishes
    – Art & Industrial Park a big disappointment. 2 km walk from town but hardly a highlight. (Did have a look at Spell. Think they should move to Johnson St for more business)
    – Best beaches I have found in Australia after a 20 year search
    – The Conscious Cafe tucked away behind Woolies! Filling & healthy lunch
    – Cheaper to buy a bottle of wine & byo. Cost of drinks more expensive than the meal itself
    – We stay in Shirley St & there was almost freeway traffic levels heading into town every morning. Not very relaxing. Next time will stay closer towards The Pass.

    Can understand why people move there. Might go a bit stir crazy after a year of so, but well worth a visit.


  • nancy

    Love this website…


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  • Sophie

    Where are you off to Sarah? (sorry – dont mean to be like the people that Maria Shriver described in her latest address to USC ie constantly asking what’s next)


  • Bec.k

    I don’t think I’ve seen it mentioned yet, but Brekky at the Pass cafe is amazing!!
    They use fresh local produce..the eggs are WONDERFUL and they have lovely homemade cakes and slices. Not too sure which coffee they use, but its fantastic.. I had brekky there almost everyday I was in Byron..Ohhh I wish I was there again now!


  • http://www.thinkbeautiful.com.au Karly

    Moved away for 5 years and am now finally back! Missed my old tribe too much. Back to heal… mainly others, but still a work in progress.

    Ate in Bangalow is now called ‘Town’. Great place, great hosts! Katrina and her team puts on a great spread for Byron and Beyond Networking. I also love the Historical Tea Rooms in Bangas – the Bangalow Business Women have some great events each month there.

    I also have to recommend Namaste Fitness in the Industrial Estate if you want an AWESOME workout.

    In Mullum – Kiva Spa… take everyone who comes to visit. Also Mullum Herbals – love Jacinta… after living with hayfever everyday of my life, today I woke up with no itchy nose… clear head, no distractions and all thanks to Jacinta. Milk and Honey is the bomb – although I’m wheat free now so might have to suss out if they are willing to do a spelt job. And Mullum Farmers market – each Friday.

    Harvest is rad… thankfully only about 100 metres from my place.

    If you want a mindblowingly great dip, or two… Baraka Foods Hummus and Baba Ganoush is AMAZING! And I mean best ever amazing! Check their website for stockists in the shire and surrounds.

    Don’t get into town much… but always loved the good ol’ Suffolk for a beer or ten. And used to get to the Rails and top pub in the old days… and of course, saw some incredible gigs at the Northern.

    It’s good to be home.


  • http://suziecheel.com Suzie Cheel

    Hi Sarah,
    Wow you are leaving the are just as i have discovered you
    I listened to you yesterday talking with Darren and thought I must get together with you- I also have had an autoimmune disease for the past 10 months and your blog has inspired me to share more of my story. I live just north of you at Tweed and was going to ask you if we could do an interview- if you check my blog you will see a recent interview with a Spiritual Author on Intuition and her recent book. let me know if you have time to connect. Namaste Suzie


  • Amy S

    This seems like a place for the privileged to go to heal. I have been extremely ill for 20 months and may now not make it to the end of this year. I have tried EVERYTHING in my power to heal, with no results. I would love to go to Byron Bay to try to heal. But where would a poor person fit in? Where could I stay for $150 or less per week? If there is somewhere cheap, I really would love to hear about it..readers?


    Karly Reply:

    Hey Amy,

    I was in no way privileged when I moved to Byron almost 10 years ago. In fact, I was the poorest I have ever been. Drowning under a mountain of debt… but I was also the happiest. Most of my mates are far from wealthy. Hell, housing is expensive, jobs generally pay crap but people get by – I did, and continue to do so (while paying a mortgage somewhere we couldn’t bring ourselves to live any longer but can’t afford to sell (property prices having taken a dive since we bought), rent here, I’m self employed and my husband is not working at the moment… but it’s totally worth it. I’m home!

    For $150 a week you could get into a share house… like most places you won’t find accommodation on your own for $150 a week. But sharing would certainly make it more affordable.

    The healing for me was emotional – although I do believe the two are linked. Without knowing you or your circumstances it’s difficult to say if Byron is the right place. While there are lots of upsides, there are also downsides – it’s not a utopia, or a place where you will be miraculously healed… but for me, I found home. I left once, and I won’t be doing it again (although I’m in the hinterland, so not in town – don’t think I could handle the craziness).

    Best of luck with it all Amy!


    Amy S Reply:

    Hi Karly,
    Thanks very much for your reply and for sharing your experience with me. It’s a bit hard for me to find people to share a home with because people generally don’t want to live with a stranger who is extremely ill and can’t work. Most days I can barely even walk from my bed to the bathroom. Usually, finding housing is impossible for me because I have a child and believe me people don’t want to share with someone else’s child. We were homeless for six months last year because of this. We couldn’t find someone to share with in a city of 4 million. This is about to change. It’s actually very unrealistic for me to ask about “moving” right now but because I am losing my daughter (because I am too ill to care for her) I imagined maybe spending some time in/near nature while I still can. So the type of thing I meant was hostels or even somewhere to pitch a tent for $150 a week. Mostly asking out of curiosity.


    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah WilsonSarah Wilson Reply:

    Amy S, I hired a tin shed for a year. I threw in everything to do this. I’ve bought 4 items of clothing in a year. It was a choice and one anyone can make.


    Amy S Reply:

    “It was a choice and one anyone can make.” Are you serious? I am usually very impressed with you Sarah, but this comment just reeks of privelege and arrogance. I have been ill for 13 years and managed to get by working casually when I could and caring for my daughter. Then I got cancer and had to have a hysterectomy. Following the op I became much more ill, almost completely housebound, my partner abandoned us, I spent all my savings on natural and allopathic treatments that did nothing, experienced homelessness with my child for 6 months because a disability pension can’t pay for rent. I guess we should have just made the “choice” to move to Byron Bay then. Ha. I haven’t bought any clothes for myself for two years, big deal. Let me tell you about real sacrifice. I sometimes go without meals so I can somehow scrape enough money together to pay for my morphine and 5 other medications I am taking. I am about to lose my child because I am too sick to look after her. We have no family to help out.
    I know you like to say you live in a tin shed but I have seen photos taken in your home. I think you are exaggerating. My brother lived in a tin shed in someone’s backyard from age 14 – 15 and I used to stay with him sometimes. A tin shed is 4 walls of tin with a concrete floor. No bathroom, no toilet, no taps, no kitchen. It was absolutely freezing or horrendously boiling hot, depending on the weather. Rodents used to squeeze their way in frequently. I think you might need to take a look at how fortunate you really are and realise that you are indeed a priveleged person to be able to make the choices that you do.


    Amy S Reply:

    That came out a lot more hostile than was my intention.

  • Selena

    Curious….where to next, what your next adventure?


    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah WilsonSarah Wilson Reply:

    Stay tuned to the blog next week


  • http://Holistichealingandcfs.wordpress.com Amy

    This is superb. Very comprehensive. I have just moved to the area and am loving the farmers markets and the conscious cafe! Can’t wait to check out naked treaties and I am going to call up this woman for a massage! I don’t know if I saw this in your list but i had a Devine Sunday roast at byron fresh cafe, local fresh produce and really accommodating for food intols etc.


  • Jess

    Jenny.. How offensive.. As a thirty something woman, I can’t believe you would talk about older women in such a derogatory way. So sad :(

    Wonderful insider guide Sarah! My hubby and i are moving our little family to Byron in August for 6 months long service – this guide will be gold as we find our feet :)


  • http://www.summerhills.com Francesca @ SummerHills Retreat Byron Bay Accommodation

    Hi Sarah, I’ve always enjoyed your blog, I’ve been follwoing it for a while now as well as your “Byron round-up” – it’s always interesting to read. I really enjoyed meeting you as well 18 months ago when you first got here and it’s great to hear that the last 18 months have been healing and just what you needed. Best of luck with the rest of your journey, and I look forward to hearing all about it in each of your blog posts which are always inspiring to me, see you again some time
    xx Francesca Esposito-Rose
    @SummerHills Retreat Byron Bay


  • http://www.lifewithelizabethrose.com Elizabeth Rose

    Such a great, inspiring and informative post Sarah! If anyone hasn’t been to Byron yet, they sure will want to after reading this post! Byron reminds me of Margaret River in WA…same healing vibe. Love both places :-)


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    I am really thankful to you for the information you have provided. You are helping others to grow their knowledge by sharing such a valuable information you have. This post is amazing & I’m glad for it…


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  • Avi

    Currently contemplating a move from Bondi to Byron (with my hubby and 9 month old bub) so this article has given me some good food for thought thank you! Avi and crew xxx


  • J.O.

    Sarah I just went to Byron Bay and went everywhere you recommended and had an AMAZING trip. Every meal was delightful. Thanks for the hot tips! Will be recommending this guide to anyone I know travelling to Byron :)


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    keep on blogging with updated posts !!! thanks for sharing it !!


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  • Fiona

    Great tips Sarah! Please also get out to the Green Garage, my favourite spot to waste a morning… or afternoon


  • http://www.biome.com.au Shionagh

    At Biome Eco Stores we are gearing up for Australia Day by featuring some great Australian mad products. Several of them come from the Byron area. Byron is such a great location for people to open and run their Australian business and keep producing cool eco friendly, sustainable and naturally made goods that are actually still being made in Australia. What a lifestyle! I’m jealous!!
    Check out our Australian gifts page : http://www.biome.com.au/148-australian-gifts


  • stephen

    byron bay is over price with shit and shit food


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    Oh my goodness! Awesome article dude! Thanks,
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  • http://www.thedustystiletto.wordpress.com Em

    Byron is simply amazing. I’ve been going there every year since I was 6 (am now 24). I’ve seen it go from a relatively unknown, sleepy, amazing costal town, to an equally amazing bustling tourist destination (however, still keeping that amazing charm and chilled vibe). Byron has let me, and my beautiful family, embrace our inner alternative. I feel so free when I’m there. My dad, a country man from Northern NSW, even dons a wooden bead necklace. There’s something in the air…adore it.
    This has made me ‘homesick’ for Byron. I now live in Adelaide……sigh


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  • Cristian

    Nature is the key to human or animal sanity, we are constantly building in concrete and letting corporate companies rule our lives while we are spoon feed , “keep up with the Jones”. 
    To only make us consume more things we really don’t need and create debt to “Big brother” so that our lives are transformed into accepting the rat-race (Sydney -Bondi or other large cities) and jump on the rat wheel and run , run up the ever spinning wheel of death.

    Watt makes Byron unique to me is that it’s a place where the city-rat can stop and breathe and relies the major trick that Has clouded the perception of their life.
    It’s a place where the city-head and you can be reborn?

    The hinterland is the real beauty of the Byron area, Byron town itself is the bait for the ‘City Rat head’ trying to change or looking for an alternative life as their souls are sadened by the world issues that we have to day.

    People who are already raised in the Country are lucky but I don’t think they grab the ideas I mentioned and see Byron as another ‘rat hole’ and don’t really understand the vibrant underlining energy taking place. And to the ones coming from a major Cities well you guys need to be unplugged.  Lol…

    Its places like Byron that will change corporate greed and one day we can all live sustainable so that future generations can also look at the Whales at Byron. 

    Nature, has all the answers, when people have problems or are sick, why do they instinctually turn to Nature, this is the question I leave with you. 



  • Tegan

    Any suggestions for wedding reception venues in Byron, preferably with an ocean view?


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  • Steph

    Hey Sarah. Spent five days here with a friend and have only just returned to cold, grey Melbourne! We practically used this post as a quick, intimate guide to Byron and boy it was fulfilling – we can’t thank you enough. Really connected to the place. Cheers.


  • http://cookingpluslove.com Veronica Montagnol

    Hi Sarah,

    just a quick comment to say that i love your post, some great recommendations in there. Me and my husband moved up to Byron around 4 years ago and we have not looked back!

    The local produce is something that is second to none, I am a keen cooking enthusiast and the Byron Market never seems to disappoint for preparing delicious meals!




  • Philippa

    Re skinny dipping in the tea tree lakes….I was fortunate to have been taken to this very special place by one of the traditional owners before she died. The traditional owners were very distressed by the fact that people were skinny dipping here. It is a sacred women’s place and should be respected. Thanks.


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    Hi Sarah! I’ve been following your blog since I relocated to Sydney in December. I’m planning to spend a few months in Byron and so funny but I didn’t even notice your guide until now!! Interesting how we don’t notice things until we show up for what we want. Anyway, great advice!! Thanks xx


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  • Bec

    Sarah – Do you still live in Byron Bay or are you back in the city?
    Wikipedia says you still live in Byron – Anyway my point is how do you find life in he city after living in Byron Bay? Is it more hectic, or do you appreciate the hussle out of a quieter mind?



  • Miriam

    Love this!! Just did an epic road trip from Canberra to Byron and back again- good times!! So worth the trek, and would do it all again in a second. We went to quite a few of Sarah’s recommended spots- fell in love with Top Shop, very impressed with St Elmo’s and loved Harvest and Naked Treaties. The walk up to the lighthouse and the rainforest walk back was sublime. For a massage/pamper sess, check out the Kiva day spa- best two hrs of my life. Also if you feel like a tattoo, check out Inkreation- gorgeous, unique and just wonderful…. OK now I’m homesick for Byron!!


  • Ted Hekk

    Ye! I arrived in Byron several years ago. The peace, love & kindess I received…it’s. …um…erh…I wish I could explain. I live in my head but I somehow I fell into my heart in Byron. I met this beautiful woman & she said she would help me become one with the universe and that I needed to expand my consciousness. She was like a rainbow that wrapped itself around me and I was taken on a journey. I started to have inner feelings of peace love & happiness flow out from my belly. And my inner delight was to watch the fullmoon rise and sun sets. I would sometimes gaze upon flowers for hours and hours thinking how beautiful they looked. A really special occasion was seeing whales and dolphins splash in the ocean. I would swim in the sea everyday and would bury my hands into the sand and it was like this energy was traveling into me. I had much beauty fun and laughter. ….but one new year eve I stayed in Byron and I all the peace and love ran away from me. That new year’s eve I saw people fighting each other and hurting one another. People were doing things to each other that seemed so strange for the Byron Bay I had known. It was about this time I started to leave my heart and I traveled back into my head….but the voice I heard said to me ‘please dont go I need you…sometime later I parked my pushbike under a flowering frangipani tree and when I returned I found the basket filled with fallen frangipani’s. So I cycled around town handing out these frangipani’s to woman who put the flower in their hair.