Published: July 8th 2010July 1st 2010
Ahhhh . There’s nothing like ------ !
Australia’s new slogan to promote its tourism industry. A step up to the controversial "Where the Bloody Hell Are you"
It is hard to resist the call of Byron Bay
when you hear a lot of people rave about the place. Byron Bay has been at the back of my mind for a while now. I always wondered, "what’s so special about this place ?" Perhaps it’s the white sandy beaches on the foot of the lush green hinterland, the rugged cliffs and green rolling hills; or perhaps the humpback whales and dolphins frolicking in the bay. But quite frankly, they say it’s the party scenes and easy access to “happy high herbs” and weeds that draw tourists and backpackers in this little coastal town. I’d like to think that it’s this certain energy in the area that attracts wandering, restless and hedonistic souls from different walks of life.
One can say that Byron Bay is a haven for urban refugees trying to escape the daily grind in the city. From hippies to local artists, nature lovers, surfers, backpackers and tourists, they all find refuge in this small
Just 2 hours drive from the city of Brisbane, we finally made it to Byron Bay. After checking-in at the villa, we went for a walk around town which is only a stone throw away taking the short-cut past an old disused train track. There’s definitely a certain vibe about Byron Bay that is calming, peaceful and at the same time uplifting. The atmosphere is laidback. Seeing the beautiful white sandy beach and the hinterland in the backdrop can instantly strip all your worries away.
It’s 2.30pm and my stomach is grumbling. I haven’t eaten anything since breakfast apart from few crackers, camembert cheese and green apple. So we headed to FishHeads
and ordered Fish ‘n Chips
to take down to the beach. Jamie found a grassy area on the Main beach where we can have our takeaway lunch. After a very satisfying meal, I can vouch that FishHeads definitely have the best Fish ‘n Chips and potato scallops in town. We went there again the next day.
Byron is littered with a plethora of international cuisine from Thai, Egyptian, Japanese, Indian to the best kebabs and Italian pizza in town. We tried the wood
fired pizza at the Great Northern Hotel as it touts to have the “best”. I couldn’t say that I agree. Though it does have the best garlic bread in town.
Seeing other kids happy as Larry playing on the beach, Jamie and I felt somewhat sad and guilty for not taking the kids even though it’s our wedding anniversary getaway. We can just imagine Ryan happy chasing the seagulls and having a blast on the surf. It felt strange not having the kids around. We have forgotten what it’s like to be just a couple
Although it’s the middle of winter, Byron Bay boasts beautiful weather almost all year round and mild winter being close to Queensland and all. Unfortunately, we had an unusual cold snap comes Friday on the day of our wedding anniversary. Bummer !
I have an itinerary set for Friday so I’m not going to let a cold drizzly weather ruin the day. The morning is planned for a whale watching tour
. Since I suffered seasickness from our trip to Rottnest Island, I took one of those Kewell seasickness tablets which made me drowsy, thus regretting taking the pill. It’s quite disappointing
that we didn’t get to see the whales up close and personal. The tour operators have to adhere to strict guidelines and regulations, maintaining 100meters distance away from the migrating humpback whales. The best way to get close to the whales is to stay put and let the whales come to you at their own will. One whale got close as 20 meters from our boat.
I planned the afternoon for a Trail Horse Ride at Pegasus Park
. After seeing “The Outback Light Horse Spectacular”
live show, I am in the mood to ride a horse. Being a beach lover, I want to go horse surfing but it’s unfortunately not feasible with the bad weather. Perhaps in summer.
Anyway, I ended up with a rather quite cheeky horse. Those horses do really have personality of their own. My horse wants do everything except trot. All he wants to do is pee, poo, drink and eat. Then it got itchy and rubbed its face against a water tub. I pretty much just sat on the darn beast while our guide drags it by a rope. Luckily, I had the chance to finally get to ride the
beast in the last half hour, else I want a refund. Whilst on the trail ride, Jamie dropped his camera somewhere in the paddock. We traced back our steps and found it.
For a tourist town, the Byron Bay Village seems quiet during the day. But by night, it turns into a bustling hub of live entertainment and party scenes. Street performers play in front of cafes and restaurants. Without the kids in tow, we took the opportunity to sample the nightlife in town. We bar hopped from Byron Brewery, Beach Hotel and Great Northern Hotel - the nightlife centre of the town boasting 100% authentic aussie pub atmosphere. Its “Backroom” - one of the coolest entertainment venue in the country is internationally re-known for best live gigs, a stage point for touring national and international artists with high calibre. Apparently
. Perhaps we went there at the wrong time as we’re not too impressed with the bands Polaroid Fame
and Radio Jupiters
playing at the time. Also, I can't get over how young girls hit on the senior band eventhough they are old enough to be their fathers. It's funny how a mother had to call out to her
daughter to leave the band alone. I guess there's just something about singers/musicians that drive women wild especially when they sing of love.
I must add that the Beach Hotel
have really cool gigs and enjoyed listening to the very talented Reggae and Islanders bands. Having missed my ZUMBA
class twice in a row, I’m just itching to dance. However, Jamie wouldn’t budge no matter how much tagging I do. He is more interested in watching other people dance. The ladies do know how to work the dance floor, but the guys on the other hand seem to move on their own tune and beat. You can immediately tell apart who are the aussie guys - they are the ones hopping like kangaroos and the doing surf moves. Simply hilarious. It dawned on me that white men can’t dance, and the ones who can are gay (pun intended).
Our 3rd day in Byron is planned for a scenic drive through the green rolling hills and small villages to Nightcap National Park
. Navigating through the villages and hinterland was a breeze with the use of the GPS device I bought Jamie for his birthday. Jamie being a
technophobe, I had to program the GPS myself. I guess I haven't made myself redundant after all
. We saw a sign pointing to the Crystal Castle so we decided to have a quick look. It just happens that 7 Tibetan monks
are staying there as guests. We were lucky to have the opportunity to listen to their teachings and join them in their meditation session. It's also my first time to listen to monks throat sing which I found quite fascinating. The eldest monk is one of the last remaining monks who survived the chinese invasion of Tibet in 1959. He managed to escape to India but had to come back to tibet again to help save the other monks. His plight in rescuing the other monks cost him his knees. He was sponsored to Australia for knee surgery and give him new lease on life.
Another “interesting” place we stopped by is Nimbin
. Seeing colourful buses dropping backpackers/tourists in this so called hippie town sparked my interest. So I wondered what’s so special about this town. The minute I stepped out the car, I cannot walk past a couple of meters without being asked if
I want a “special smokey”
and “magic cookies”
. Oh my goodness, I haven’t even smoked a cigarette in my entire life let alone puff the magic dragon
... But then, I am probably one of the few who hasn't ? So I just politely smiled and said “no thanks” instead of sprinting out of there. Besides, I still want to look around town and see what else is interesting. My curiosity brought me to the Nimbin Museum. All I can say is there’s nothing like it. Who ever built that museum must be munching on those “Happy High Herbs” (if not weeds) they were selling. Even though, there’s a sign saying “No drugs, No dealing”
, it's hard not to take notice of a guy smoking a bong right in full view.
The identity of Byron Shire has been historically linked to the Aquarian Movement
started in 1970s advocating peace, love, harmony, social equality and care for the environment. Since then, time has changed. New generation of lost and broken souls escape here to forget the harsh reality of the real world. By the look on their faces, they have given up on life (as what Jamie thought). Though the
utopian ideology still exist in the mind of others living an alternative lifestyle in the hills of Byron.
I extended our stay in Byron Bay and checked-in at Anna's B&B for another night so we can go to the Community Market which is held every 1st Sunday of the month. Our night at the B&B didn't go well. Jamie thought there's some paranormal acitivity happening in our room. He woke up in the middle of the night thinking he heard an eerie rustling sound and something is lifting our quilt cover. So I wondered, what on earth has he been smoking ... (though I've known Jamie for more than 17 years and I haven't seen him touch a cigarette). Strangely, I also woke up with pain in my chest and had difficulty breathing. The room was getting too hot so I turned the heater off. Jamie couldn't go back to sleep. He stayed up reading his book. When I opened the door, a really lovely cat went inside our room and made itself welcome. Jamie had such a fright when he almost step on it wondering where it came from.
The next morning, we headed off to the
market to checkout hand-made arts and craft and local organic produce. A local musician playing a guitar caught my attention. I bought a fresh chai tea and semolina cake from a nearby food stall and found a spot to watch him play. After his performance, I bought one of his CD but unfortunately didn't have the song I really like titled "There's Nothing I Need"
because he had just written it and hasn't recorded it yet.
I also bought fresh organic fruits (such as lady fingers bananas, custard apples and avocados) for Ryan as they are his favorite.
There's nothing like ending our trip at the top of Cape Byron lighthouse soaking in the breathtaking 360 degrees view of the bay with endless horizon of the sea and lush hinterland.
Ahhhhh, There’s really nothing like Byron Bay.
There are more photos below