Byron Bay is a great little town full of hipster hippies and beach bums. You can immediately feel the slower pace and easy-going attitude of its residents. The shops that line the streets sell anything from new age crystals and hemp bracelets to the latest surf gear and high-end clothes and accessories. In Byron Bay, it seems that everything and everyone mingles together in harmony.
On my first day in Byron Bay, I didn’t get up till after 9 am. Even after I had breakfast, many of the stores hadn’t opened yet and the streets were empty. Almost every third store was selling a tie-dyed garment, Tibetan-inspired charm or Buddhist totem. It was amazing to wander into these shops and have a look around. Trinkets and things hung from the walls and ceiling and filled every corner. Oftentimes the shopkeeper donned his or her wares just to prove that it was stylish and indeed wearable. And even though I didn’t have much space for souvenirs in my bag, I could not help but go into each store just for the fun of it.
My impression of Byron Bay is that it tries hard to be bohemian, but it is really just another attempt to be part of the cool crowd. It’s like the hippies of the ’60s grew up, became rich and are now trying to recapture their youth. But you can never reclaim the past, so Byron Bay reflects their current social standing with only glimpses of the counter-culture of which they were once a part.
The next day I awoke even later and had a quick lunch at OzyMex, the first “Mexican” food I’ve tried in Oz. I had chicken nachos loaded with cheese, sour cream, jalapeno and salsa and it hit the spot. Afterward, I spent most of the day at the beach with a book. The day was sunny with occasional clouds rolling in. The sand was white and extremely fine, making it difficult to keep it from getting everywhere or into everything.
Once it became too chilly to lie about, I walked along the beach toward the lighthouse. Had I been ambitious, I would’ve hiked up to the lighthouse for a fabulous view of Byron Bay. But, I was on vacation after all and left the lighthouse for the birds. I did, however, walk to the end of the beach and scale a wooden staircase to a small viewing area. Here you could see the entire shoreline of Byron Bay and have a peek around the point. There were several surfers floating in the water below this lookout, but the waves didn’t look like they were cooperating with them.
As beautiful as Byron Bay was, I didn’t get much of an Aussie feeling from it. It could’ve been any California beach town. Despite this, I really enjoyed my time here because it gave me some much-needed down time. I especially enjoyed it because I wasn’t on a tour with a tight schedule and, oddly enough, because I was traveling it alone. I decided the entire day’s activities on a whim and they were as changeable as the weather. I think I was finally beginning to understand the allure of solo travel. And I loved it.
|Slide Album: Byron Bay|