WEEKEND GETAWAYS

Weekend Getaway: Byron Bay, Australia

We discovered Byron Bay during our first campervan journey up the east coast of Australia back in 2010. It rained every day during that visit, which kept us from spending time on Bryon’s beautiful beaches, but forced us inland to discover its ‘hinterland’ — a verdant countryside of rolling hills, secret swimming holes and charming towns. While Byron’s beaches and surf scene are its biggest draw, the fact that there are so many beautiful surrounding towns with their own events, markets, shops and restaurants — all within 20 minutes of Byron — gives this happening little town even more appeal. I remember driving along those winding country roads in our camper van in 2010, telling Michael that this would be my dream spot if I could live anywhere in the world.

We arrived to Byron a little over three months ago now, and not a day goes by that I don’t pinch myself, knowing just how lucky we are to be here. While we are awaiting a decision on our visa applications we are soaking up every magical moment in this most special place — discovering new gems each week. For a little town (population of just 9,000 — or 30,000 if you count all of Byron Shire), it is bursting with wonderful things to do, see, eat, shop, etc. Here are some of my favourites:

EAT

  • The Top Shop: A Byron Bay institution, and rightfully so! The coffee and food is easy to like, and its location makes it the perfect place to stop before or after a surf.
  • Harvest Café in Newrybar: One of the best restaurants in the area, Harvest is a great place for a special lunch or dinner. On weekend mornings they open up their gorgeous bakery and sell delicious treats from a big farmhouse table. The perfect way to kick off the weekend!
  • The Roadhouse in Byron: Apparently this is the hipster hang out, but they have always welcomed our boisterous gang of beach rats with open arms. Great food and amazing coffee are on offer in a lovely patio space. Dinner is great too, but kids aren’t allowed in the evenings.
  • Woods Café in Bangalow: Just a 5-minute walk from our house, this is our favourite local café. The staff is super friendly and the plant-based food is divine. There’s also a pretty courtyard where kids can run around while you wait for your food or enjoy a second coffee.
  • The Farm: Located just outside of Byron Bay, this working farm/restaurant/café/shop/play-space is a wonderful, family friendly spot to hang out, meet friends, and enjoy a delicious meal. We love their donuts, breads and sandwiches from their take-away counter, and the food from the Three Blue Ducks restaurant is outstanding.
  • The Treehouse: Best for the beachy atmosphere and drinks, we have enjoyed this relaxed place for a couple impromptu dinners with large groups. You can come straight from the beach as you won’t feel a bit out of place here with sandy feet or wet clothes.
  • Miss Margarita: A small Mexican restaurant in the centre of town with a happening vibe and good food. Be prepared to queue though.
  • Doma Café in Federal: This Japanese-Australian restaurant is one of our favourites for their delicious food and pretty outside dining area. Definitely worth the drive to Federal just for this gem of a restaurant!
  • The Belle General in Lennox Head: We discovered this café/restaurant when we camped in Lennox Head before arriving to Byron Bay last year and loved it so much, we went back a few times over the course of the next month. They have really delicious food and coffee — definitely worth the drive out of town.
  • Mullumbimby Farmers Market on Friday mornings: we love this market for the great organic food stalls, friendly people and laid-back vibe. There’s also a Farmers Market in Bangalow on Saturday mornings, and one in Byron on Thursday mornings.
  • Punch & Daisy in Mullumbimby: Owned by sweet friends of ours, this charming little cafe serves delicious, healthy foods all made to order, and great coffee too. Perfect for lunch with the kids with plenty of casual seating both inside and out in their courtyard.
  • Yami in Brunswick Heads: This little vegetarian restaurant serves delicious mediterranean food and has a nice outdoor seating area. We love to stop here for falafel before or after a swim in the Brunswick area.
  • Basiloco: Good wood-fired pizzas and a relaxed, family friendly vibe can be found in this Sardinian owned Italian restaurant just minutes from The Pass.

DO

  • Surf at The Pass: The Pass is the perfect place for surfers of all abilities. The point break and gentle waves are ideal for every surfer in our family and it’s a gorgeous place to watch the sunset.
  • Beach day at Wategos: Wategos Beach is just another of Byron’s gorgeous beaches – with good surf, lots of sand, and public BBQs for evening dinners with friends.
  • Walk up to the lighthouse for stunning views up and down the coast (and dolphin spotting too, if you’re lucky!).
  • Snorkel and swim with sea turtles at Julian Rocks: last year we booked a snorkel tour with the Byron Bay Dive Centre. The minimum age is 6, so Marlow was too young – but Michael took the three bigger kids and they loved it! They saw sea turtles, leopard sharks, and all sorts of fish and other sea life.
  • Swim in the river at Brunswick Heads: Just a 15-minute drive from Byron, Brunswick Heads offers charming beaches as well as the river for swimming or paddle-boarding. (We’ve also seen dolphins swimming up and down the river!)
  • The Crystal Castle: botanical gardens filled with extraordinary crystals, sub-tropical plant life and mystical statues. It’s hard to define the appeal of this place – something to see and experience for yourself.
  • Killen Falls: There are several creeks and waterfalls in the gorgeous hinterland surrounding Byron Bay. We love swimming at the base of Killen Falls (though the large, jagged rocks make it slightly tricky to get into the water). We’ve even seen some baby turtles swimming next to us — a highlight for the kids.
  • Tea Tree lakes: There are a few different tea tree lakes scattered around the Byron Bay region. The lakes are warm thanks to their dark colour, and are believed to have healing properties due to the tea-tree oil infused waters. This is a good option on a windy day as these lakes tend to be more protected from the wind.

SHOP

  • Newrybar Merchants: This gorgeous shop is a collective of creative local artisans and shops and offers a variety of beautiful homewares, gifts, clothes and accessories.
  • Our Corner Store in Bangalow: They have a beautiful selection of homewares and fashion, and they even have a small corner with a well-curated selection of children’s products. Great for gifts!
  • Yoli & Otis in Byron Bay: this local children’s brand recently set up a gorgeous shop in the Byron industrial estate and everything about it is inspiring and beautiful. They have a collection of clothing for babies, children and women as well as a small but well curated collection of homewares and accessories.
  • Tiny People in Byron Bay: a great children’s shop with lots of my favourite brands from all over the world.
  • Mary Ryan’s Bookstore in Byron Bay: a charming bookstore with a good children’s section.
  • The Bangalow Market: held on the 4th Sunday of every month, we love this big market full of gorgeous, locally-made products and crafts. A wonderful place to pick up unique gifts from the area.
  • The Finders Club in Bangalow: a great shop for trendy menswear and accessories. I stopped in here to pick up Michael’s christmas presents this year and they did not disappoint.
  • Channel Island: A notch above the rest when it comes to style and sophistication in surf products. Beautiful boards, stylish board bags and a great selection of clothes.
  • Sunshine Trader in Brunswick Heads: this small but well-curated little boutique has a great selection of books, gifts and home accessories. They also have a small selection of mens and womenswear, stocking many of Byron’s best local designers.

STAY

  • When we visited Byron Bay six years ago on our first campervan journey, wet weather kept us from doing the usual beachy things. Instead we drove inland and discovered the gorgeous little town of Bangalow. With cute shops, great cafes and a friendly community of residents, we knew we wanted to base ourselves there if ever we returned. Luckily, we discovered the Granuaille Residence on the Kid & Coe site last year when we started planning our trip, and we immediately booked it. The house is cosy, kid-friendly and stylish. It’s also perfectly located within a short walk of town. As fate would have it, we ended up becoming good friends with the owners, who returned from an extended trip to California in time to meet up while we were still in town. Poppy is a film director and Andy is a musician who will soon be releasing a rock album for kids.
  • Aibnb is a really common way for locals to rent out their homes and make a bit of extra money. For this reason, there are loads of options for places to stay in the area.
  • The Atlantic is a charming boutique hotel in the centre of Byron with stylish, individually decorated guest houses. Unfortunately, kids are not allowed here — so it’s one for an adults-only holiday.
  • Elements of Byron: what this hotel lacks in charm and character, it makes up for in amenities and the location right on the beach in Belongil. We’ve had friends stay here who were very happy with the customer service.

 

Photos above are from our visit to Byron last April. (My camera has been at the repair shop for the past couple months, so I’ve not been able to photograph our time here as well as I would have liked. Hoping to make this a priority now that my camera is fixed!)


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Comments (33)

Natasha
January 30, 2017

Great recommendations. I’ve been going to Byron for the past 20 years and it really has a very special energy. You must try Fleet next to Sunshine Traders in Bruns. It’s my favourite Australian restaurant! How lucky you are to be in such a beautiful part of the world. Enjoy


Fee
January 30, 2017

Thanks for this! Amazing timing as we will be coming out to Oz next week and plan to spend five days in Byron and surrounding area so very happy to read this. Would you mind sharing what make your daughter’s pink and white beach cover up is? Trying to pack light and it looks like a very useful and versatile item to have. Thanks again x


Jesse
January 30, 2017

Yes, I’d love to know too! x


Wilsona
January 30, 2017

Yes! Me too! I’d love to know where Marlowe’s beach cover up is from! Xx


Courtney in Australia
January 31, 2017

Hi guys,
Thanks for the nice comments. Marlow’s beach towel poncho was from a little shop in Chile and I don’t think it’s in stock any more.
The Beach People have a kids’ hooded poncho: http://thebeachpeople.com.au/kids/petite-poncho.html or there are the turkish towel versions (very similar to what Marlow is wearing) from Kasaba: https://kasaba.com.au/shop/product/all-products/kids-cotton-poncho/

I hope this helps! x


Beck in Melbourne, AU
January 30, 2017

Great summary Courtney, thanks! We came up to Byron as a newly married couple in 2001- can’t wait to go back with the kids in tow, so your family friendly recommendations are just what I need in planning the next trip (soon I hope 😊).


Vivi
January 30, 2017

It really is a beautiful spot!

Courtney, can you please do a follow up post on your travel budget now that your around the world journey is complete? Did you go over budget in some areas, were there some countries you found more/less expensive than expected, what would you have done differently? I am so curious as it looks like you were able to stay in beautiful accommodations and try out many delicious restaurants. I can appreciate that that isn’t inexpensive for a family of 6. Thank you.


SHOW ALL COMMENTS
Lisa Gardner
January 31, 2017

I want to come and visit!!!!!! ☀️


Courtney in Australia
January 31, 2017

PLEASE DO COME!!!!! xx


Esther in Amsterdam
January 31, 2017

me too!!!


Lisa
January 31, 2017

Wonderful post – on my travel list for sure! Perhaps I missed a post, but am curious how/what you pack for yourself and family for a day at the beach? I always seem to overpack and then end up managing our belongings for a good portion of the day!
Thanks for sharing your favorite spots!


Courtney in Australia
January 31, 2017

Hi Lisa,
Thanks for your comment and suggestion for the post about what to pack for the beach. I’ve gotten quite good at packing only the essentials for the beach, as my husband is usually carrying the surf boards and the kids and I have to carry the beach bags. So the lighter, the better! 🙂
I usually pack:
-towels (turkish towels are best as they are lightweight)
-one swimsuit for each kid (unless they’re already wearing one, and then I pack a pair of undies for each of them)
-‘rashies’ (rash guards) for the kids so they don’t get sun burned
-sunblock and zinc sticks (usually in a separate zip-up case to keep them organised)
-snacks (usually in reusable food containers to keep the food and the sand separate)
-hats (but I usually make them wear them so I don’t end up carrying them)
-water bottles (these obviously add weight to our beach bags, but they’re essential for the beach as my kids are always thirsty!)

I think that’s it. I don’t over complicate things when packing, so I don’t bring beach toys or spare clothing or spare swimsuits, etc.

I hope this helps?
xx


Anna
January 31, 2017

Hi there, thanks for the recommendations! I would like to ask regarding the visa: you wrote you were there on three months/90 days tourist visa, and as you arrived there “a little over three months ago”, how is your visa situation now? Thanks in advance and best regards, Anna


Courtney in Australia
January 31, 2017

Hi Anna,
Thanks for the comment. We are now on a bridging visa which allows us to stay in the country until we are given the results of our visa application (which could take up to 9 months to come through). Please keep your fingers crossed for us. : ) xx


Fiona
January 31, 2017

Thanks for the advertisements!


Rachel | The Little Pip
January 31, 2017

If I ever make it to Byron I’ll be checking out some of these. My sister got engaged there and her husband’s family live in Brisbane so I hope I will make it one day! Funny, I always imagined Australia to be blue skies and bright light even in April – it looks almost British in mood in your photos – I guess even Australia has rain and clouds sometimes 🙂


Chloe
January 31, 2017

Seeing these photographs brings back vivid memories of the week I had in Byron Bay 15 years ago. I’m sure it has changed since then, but the thing I remember most was the birds. There seemed be so many noisy and brightly coloured birds of all shapes and sizes absolutely everywhere. I vaguely remember there being quite alot of veggie food on offer, fresh falafel, smoothies and salads. Plus some tiny beaded doorway shops selling tie dyed fabrics and a lady that could read your ‘aura’. I can also remember looking down towards the lighthouse and the sea was just the most beautiful turquoise blue. Another day we saw dolphins and some sort of Ray’s gliding the waters too. It had a very different vibe to the other places we visited. Sorry for the ramblings! Enjoy every minute 🙂


Abby Holmes
February 1, 2017

Love the gorgeous photos and latest guide to Byron! It’s an amazing place. I’m an Aussie living in London and Byron is one of my favourite places in the world, as is Positano too, which your family all love too. Does the visa mean you are looking at moving to Australia?!


Anna
February 1, 2017

Hello, thanks for your reply! I will keep my fingers crossed. By the way, I find it interesting to read that apparently you find it not at all difficult to spend another 9 months in AUS without a permission (and the need) to work. It’s probably a matter of one’s personal budget. Best wishes!


Lucy
February 1, 2017

Hi Anna,
I can’t comment for Courtney, but having been in this situation myself (twice now, in fact!) I can say that you sort of just make it work. It often comes with a bit of sacrifice, but you make it work.

The first time I was in this situation, I had planned for it and saved up and budgeted for it, in the same way someone might save up and budget for a new car. I used the time of unemployment to volunteer in an area relevant to my career and to take the time as an opportunity to take up a new hobby I’d always wanted to try. This might sound luxurious, but like I said, I’d saved up and knew that it was a time-limited period and I wanted to make the most of it. The second time I found myself waiting for a visa/work permit, I did not have the savings/budget to do this again, so I worked as a remote consultant for a company that was located in a country where I had the legal right to work. In this day and age, there is no reason to be restricted to working in the country you are residing and so many jobs can be done remotely thanks to the internet!

The other thing I will say, is that people who choose to live this kind of life (traveling extensively and relocating to new countries) have usually made a fairly firm lifestyle choice to live this way, vs deciding to do this in addition to living a regular, “normal” lifestyle. For example, my husband and I have never and will never drive brand new cars, own expensive TVs or gadgets, send our kids to private schools or save extra for retirement (all things that may seem very normal to some people) – we’ve made a distinct decision to focus on living a life rich in experiences and focus on discovering as much as we can about the world we live in, and that does include changing our worldviews about what we need in life. If this is the kind of life you want to live, please don’t think that finances need to stop you from doing it – you may need to get creative and seek out new opportunities, but it is possible if you put your mind to it!


Lucia
February 1, 2017

They’re not like “normal” families on ordinary wages though. They would like you to believe that it is very attainable to rock up to Australia and start a new life. But in reality, unless you are very very wealthy like the Adams family – it is not do-able.


alison norris
February 2, 2017

Courtney owns her own business and is probably still working and has been the entire time she was traveling.


teresa
February 1, 2017

We’re planning a camping/surfing/diving trip from Port Douglas to Sydney with our 4 children this European summer and will have a week in Byron – good to read your great travel tips Can you recommend a good surf school for children in Byron and the best beaches for them?


Lucia
February 2, 2017

In response to Alison – neither of them are working. By their own omission they are on tourist visas so can’t work


Courtney in Australia
February 3, 2017

This is not true. We are not working for any Australian companies, but I can continue to run my UK business along with my business partners like I have done for the past 18 months of travel. It is a privilege to be able to provide for my family and I work very hard to do so.


Emmy
February 4, 2017

Hello Courtney! Stumbled on this article and so happy with it! We’re on a worldtrip with our 2 boys(7 & 10) and left Belgium early December. We’ve been to Sri Lanka & Thailand and are currently in Australia, in Hastings Point! We’ ll be visiting Byron Bay tomorrow and start with a visit at the Farm! Your tips will surely come in handy! A walk to the lighthouse and eating in the three blue ducks were on my list too! My hubby would like to surf but the tales of sharks & jellyfish have made him less eager….is it safe to surf at the Pass? Hope so! Looking forward to tomorrow! (P.s.:You can find us at Instagram @willtheeasterbunnyfindus Lovely greetings, Patrick Emmy Jules & Gust


Vicky in Amsterdam
February 5, 2017

Beautiful photos! We will have to come up and visit you Aussie locals when we return to Aus 😉 I haven’t been to Byron in years! xxxxx


Lucy in London
February 7, 2017

Hi Courtney

Great post; thank you for sharing. I will be visiting Byron at the beginning of March and am v excited to try out some of your recommendations. How easy is it to get around Byron and the surrounding area? Is it worth hiring a car? Lucy x


Courtney in Australia
February 7, 2017

Hi Lucy,
I’m so glad these tips will come in handy for you!
Yes, I’d definitely recommend hiring a car. Unfortunately, it’s not so easy to get between the little towns if you aren’t able to drive there.
x


Jane
March 5, 2017

Love your blog Courtney – just want to say thanks for mentioning Kasaba in you comments on the Kids Ponchos. Jane x (Kasaba Towels Australia)


Lila & Huxley - https://www.lilaandhuxley.com/
May 30, 2017

It seems Byron is the perfect fit for your beautiful family! X


June 2, 2017

[…] this happening little town even more appeal. This is Courtney’s dream spot! We love her Weekend Getaway guide of Byron Bay and its surroundings, full of insider tips for visiting families. I hope to see all of this […]


June 21, 2017

[…] this happening little town even more appeal. This is Courtney’s dream spot! We love her Weekend Getaway guide of Byron Bay and its surroundings, full of insider tips for visiting families. I hope to see all of this […]


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