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TRAVEL & LEISURE

A Weekender's Guide to Byron Bay

Where to stay, eat, drink and play around one of Australia's most-loved coastal towns.
By Marissa Ciampi
April 18, 2018
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A Weekender's Guide to Byron Bay

Where to stay, eat, drink and play around one of Australia's most-loved coastal towns.
By Marissa Ciampi
April 18, 2018
  shares

in partnership with

One of the most perpetually praised coastal towns in Australia, Byron Bay is home to breathtaking beaches, mountains, rivers and rainforests, as well as a diverse, often experimental, grassroots foodie scene. This North Coast town is more than worth the ten-hour road trip up from Sydney, the easy two hours' flight from Melbourne or a two-hour drive from Brisbane. To help you start planning your trip to Byron, we've mapped out some of the top spots to go to, with a little help from our mates at Byron Bay YHA. Take note of the spots you want to hit, so you can detour from your regular routine and inject a little adventure into your life. Here's how to spend your days in Byron Shire — what to eat, drink and do in Byron Bay.

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STAY

One of the best things about staying in Byron is its proximity to the beach. So, you'll want to stay as close to it as possible. Of course, beachside accommodation can get pricey, but luckily there are a few affordable options available close by, including Byron Bay YHA. Located in the centre of town and less than a ten-minute walk to Main Beach, this is not your average backpacker hostel. The freshly renovated facilities include brand new private ensuite rooms, a lush pool courtyard and custom murals by Sydney artist Mulga and renowned artist Robert Moore.

Spend the day out biking, surfing or boogie-boarding (which can all be hired from the hostel) and once you've enjoyed that sunset on Main Beach, head back for one of the nightly barbecues. Upstairs, you'll find the kitchen and two sprawling decks overlooking the pool where you can meet fellow travellers, and downstairs, there's a games and reading room where you can book swap and catch up on some holiday reading. Embracing the community vibes of the Byron area, the hostel also offers pancake breakfasts during the week and its large deck is an excellent spot for some BYO sundowner sessions.

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EAT AND DRINK

Byron's serious food scene is plentiful and diverse, offering up everything from casual eateries to fine dining with a sincere focus on sustainable eating. Our favourite shop in town is Orgasmic Food, which hands down offers the best falafel we've ever had. This little Middle Eastern eatery provides some serious bang-for-your-buck eating, with the naked balls only 70 cents a pop and the half pita pocket just $7.50. If you'd prefer some meaty protein, the menu has plenty of Middle Eastern favourites like beef kofta and lamb skewers, too.

For another budget option, head to the nearby town of Mullumbimby where Milk and Honey slings artisanal wood-fired pizzas like charred onion, gruyere and rosemary or wood-roasted pork sausage with tomato and mozzarella. Aussie wines and craft brews round out the offering here.

If you're looking for some superfoods to start your day, Folk is the way to go — the adorable hut-like cafe focuses on organic, ethical and plant-based dishes that will get your engine going. And of course, there's The Farm, a must-visit spot sitting just outside of town. From the Three Blue Ducks crew, this agricultural playground is dedicated to ethical, collaborative and authentic practices, functioning as an eatery, bakery, shop and, of course, a farm. Take a seat on the terrace and order off the seasonal menu featuring dishes crafted from ingredients fresh from your surrounds. Dig in while breads by The Bread Social are kneaded and baked just next to you and some of the farm animals like chooks and pooches make cameo appearances. After your meal, digest with a walk around the farm and through the on-site macadamia farm.

Cape Byron Distillery.

A must visit at dinnertime is The Roadhouse. The menu changes daily and the dishes use fresh, locally sourced and sustainably grown produce. Think a pulled pork open sandwich on wood-fired flatbread or organic sweet potato tacos with drinks like house-made kombucha and signature negronis. They also boast the biggest whisky collection on the North Coast, if that's your libation of choice.

If beer is more your thing, a trip to Byron isn't complete without a visit to Stone and Wood brewery, one of our ten New South Wales breweries worthy of a road trip. The born-and-bred Byron Bay owners love the region and are a friendly, welcoming bunch. The demand for Stone & Wood led to the 2014 opening of their nearby Murwillumbah brewery, making the Byron shed a place for limited release and experimental batches. For those more into spirits, get a designated driver and head out to Cape Byron Distillery where you can savour Brookie's gin, infused with the flavours of neighbouring rainforest. Order a cocktail and take a seat outside overlooking the tropical rainforest preserved by owners Pam and Martin Brook.

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DO

If you're staying in Byron, a morning trek around the Cape Byron Walking Track is a must-do. The 3.7-kilometre loop takes you through rainforest gullies and cliffs, complete with beach vistas and views of the Byron Bay Lighthouse — which Byron Bay YHA offers guided tours of. It's an ideal walk for spotting whales and dolphins. And on your way back down from the lighthouse, you'll pass by the launch point for Byron Airwaves Hang Gliding. Book in for a tandem flight that'll take you soaring above the Cape Byron Headland cliffs and down to Tallow Beach below. If staying firmly on solid ground is more your thing, watching the take offs is (almost) just as exhilarating.

Another outdoorsy experience worth exploring is Tyagarah Nature Reserve. The seven kilometres of protected coastline offer swimming, sunbathing, fishing and birdwatching with not a car in site. Visitors can relax in the picnic area or hike along the bush trails studded with banksias, midgen berries, wallabies and bush turkeys. For those who prefer to skinny dip, the nearby Tyagarah Beach is clothing-optional.

Another way to enjoy Byron from the water is on a sea kayaking tour with Cape Byron Kayaks. The three-hour trips will get you up-close-and-personal with bottlenose dolphins, humpback whales and various species of sea turtles. Your guide will also delve into a bit of Byron Bay's history, most notably its Indigenous heritage. The group will pause to refuel mid-tour, too, with snacks and refreshments on the beach. If you prefer to do your own thing, the golden shores and crystal-clear waters of Clarkes Beach and Main Beach are just a stone's throw away from town centre. Plus, Main Beach is an ideal spot to watch the sunset soundtracked by free local music from the talented buskers who frequent the beach.

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Next trip to Byron, stay in the thick of it all (with easy access to the beach) at Byron Bay YHA. Rooms start at a mere $31 per night for a shared room or $105 for private rooms with wifi and new private ensuites. All rooms are provided with linens, lockers and ceiling fans, with the option to upgrade with in-room wifi or aircon. 

Plus, if you're planning to book between now and September, the hostel is offering an exclusive 20 percent off stays for Concrete Playground readers, valid until September 28 — just use the code HELLOBYRON at checkout.

Published on April 18, 2018 by Marissa Ciampi

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