So as promised, here is the first instalment of my travel diaries. I was incredibly lucky to have some kick ass holidays whilst I was living at home, but this trip was my first major solo exhibition going somewhere out of Queensland (which is kind of a big deal, OK?). Despite going with my brother, it was the first time I had to organise everything from start to finish for a major trip. So aside from chatting about where we ate, stayed and shopped, I’ll also be doing a mini itinerary for the week we were actually in Byron plus photos – yay! (Splendour is getting its own post, don’t worry guys). So I hope you enjoy, and feel free to sling me some suggestions on where else to check out next timeI venture to the land of the laidback-and-tanned dreamers.
Day 1: Wednesday
So, after a very early start (3am in fact) and a very looonnnng day of travelling, we finally cruised into Byron Bay at around 3pm. After checking into our room at our cute little AirBnB pad (I’ll leave the link below), Ethan and I did a superman change and practically flew back to the town centre to catch the shops before they closed for the day.
Obviously, the first stop was to the motherland: Spell and the Gypsy Collective. Visiting that store was right up there on my Byron bucket list, and it is every bit as beautiful as the pictures make it out to be (and some!). After Spell, we did a mad dash to suss out others stores such as Drift Lab (another bucket list item), Arnhem, Liberated Heart, Afends, Black Sheep annnnd a few more. As it was two days until Splendour, I wanted to see what was available before doing a more thorough shop in the morning. Plus, I was still searching for a perfect-length skirt, so you can see why I was ducking in and out of stores like a mad woman.
Anyway, we had a very early dinner (say 5pm – it was dark though!) at Guzman Y Gomez, a really groovy Mexican chain restaurant/takeaway, which was ridiculously delicious and cheap (tick and tick). It was the first time either of us had tried it, and I’m sorry to say, but it kicks Zambrero’s butt a few times over. I am also absolutely obsessed with their fit-out and interior decorations. The wall tiles alone are just a dream. If you ever go, the grilled chicken nachos are a must.
Pretty sure I fell asleep by 7pm that night, so no exciting shenanigans to report there!
Day 2: Thursday
After a solid 13 hours sleep, I was up and ready for a day of eating, shopping and exploring the town. Byron has been one of those places that I’ve endlessly stalked on instagram, and in my opinion, is the creative hub of Australia. So many amazing talents and brands come out of Byron, and I can easily see why. It’s hard to explain, but it’s almost like there’s inspiration in the air there.
But back to the food. We got into town around 8am, and Fishheads was calling our name. I daringly ordered an English breakfast tea, a fresh OJ and the big breakfast, which was quite literally, bigger than my head. I only conquered about half the plate, but it was super delicious, reasonably priced, and definitely my favourite breakfast of the week. Note: no split bills.
After a lovely stroll along Main Beach (we actually had the beach to ourselves, it was so peaceful and beautiful!) we got serious and hit the shops for Round 2. I’m not going to list every store I went to, because we literally went into all of them, but here are some of the ones I actually purchased stuff from:
- Mary Janes Bookstore
- Miss Brown Vintage (stall at Splendour)
- Spell and the Gypsy Collective
- Drift Lab
- Byron Surf Shop
- About A Girl
- Golden Breed
- Byron Bay Gems
- Byron Bay Candle Company
For a late lunch, we hit up Byron Fresh, a cafe who pride themselves in using fresh, local and organic produce and making their meals as delicious and ‘real’ as possible. I was still stuffed from brekky, so I had a modest bowl of their classic potato chips with homemade aoili. Tick from me. Ethan went a tad more fancier with the Haloumi roll, which was again, yummy, but he took it out of the wrapped packaging (bad decision) and made quite the mess. Again, no split bills.
After a quick grocery run we did the “long” walk home with armfuls of goodies and marginally deflated bank accounts. Our room had Austar, so we binge-watched Judge Geordie and unpacked all of our purchases before layering up and heading back into town for an ‘early’ dinner again. We thought that everything would still be relatively quiet at 6:30pm, but with the majority of the Splendour crowd having arrived there wasn’t a quiet restaurant in sight. So off to The Great Northern Hotel we went. It was packed to the max, but we got a table inside and the chicken parmy with chips was exactly what I needed after a big day of shopping. My feet were already protesting and the festival hadn’t even began yet!
Day 3: Friday
After a super nutritious breakfast of tea and Coco Pops, we began our Splendour adventure bright and early, arriving at the festival at around 10am and not getting home until 2am the following morning. Like I mentioned earlier, I’ll save those details for another post, but one thing that I just HAVE to talk about is the corn and lemonade stall at Splendour. Divine! Best BBQ’d corn I’ve ever tasted, and their freshly squeezed lemonade was only $3.50 a cup, super refreshing and a much faster alternative to lining up for a cider (even though I did my fair share of that over the weekend). I basically taste-tested my way through the hot chip and Mexican stalls, and was definitely not disappointed. (More Splendour pics to come in another post!)
Day 4: Saturday
We aimed to leave by 11am, but had a few quick errands to run beforehand (i.e. Ethan needed a parka jacket and I needed a backpack with supportive straps – cheers Surf Dive N Ski Byron, you did me well), so despite already having eaten, I couldn’t help say no to a $5 breakfast roll from one of the local coffee shops (I’ll investigate to find out their name because I seriously recommend going there. Great food, great coffee and super cheery staff). Again, I slugged it at Splendour until around 12am the next morning, so no further shopping was done that day (unless buying rad as vintage Wrangler overalls counts. Love ya, Miss Brown Vintage).
Day 5: Sunday
Because there wasn’t a lot of acts on that we knew, we didn’t head to the festival until around 2pm, so we had brunch at The Eatery on Jonson. One word: yum! I got the $9.90 breakfast roll (do you see a trend happening here?) and it was possibly the best brekky roll I’ve ever eaten. It was so fresh and different to what I usually eat, and I could’ve easily gone for a second, and third, if I didn’t have to move for the rest of the day. Even though we finished our Splendour endeavour at around 7pm that night, we scored a feed at the festival before we left (no idea what we ate) and I left the grounds with a backpack full of vintage one-offs and festival merchandise. Happy days & sore feet resulted in yet another movie night and a big sleep before our last full day of exploring in Byron.
Day 6: Monday
Wanting to make the most of our last proper day in town, we got up early and headed for round 2 at Byron Fresh. There was still a lot of tourists hanging around, so the breakfast crowd was buzzing and the heaters were on full blast. I had the “Big B” ($25), and Ethan.. I don’t remember haha (possibly the Haloumi roll again?). I was obviously very focused on trying to get through the giant plate of food in front of me. It wasn’t as good as the Fishheads big brekky, but was still tasty and gave me plenty of energy for the day.
As the Cape Byron Lighthouse was another bucket list item (we thought it was the lighthouse from ‘Round the Twist’ – apparently a common mistake) we decided to rent out bicycles and ride up there. Pretty sure we hired them from Byron Bay Surf and Bike Hire for only $10 each, which I was extremely impressed about. Then came the cherry on top of the cake: my bike was one of those cool vintage-style ones in white with a basket on the front. I was in heaven! And the whole no helmets thing was definitely a major plus – for once I could cruise around and not have my hair looking like it was attacked by bats!
We rode our bikes along the picturesque path to The Pass, where we were greeted by some phenomenal views and cheeky dolphins putting on a show. Unsure of how to continue with our bikes, we locked them up in the carpark and continued the venture on foot. It was a perfect day for it: sunny, but cool with a light breeze. I was definitely glad a wore a t-shirt and short overalls, because boy did I work up a sweat climbing all of those stairs!
On the way up, we stopped at all of the beaches and took a at least a thousand photos of the views. When checking out the Most Easterly Point of Australia lookout, we saw a couple of whales jumping out of the water, which was pretty damn special. From there, we powered up to the lighthouse, found a fireplace that looked exactly like the Weasley’s from Harry Potter (and made a dorky little video pretending I was using Floo Powder to get to Diagon Alley – as if I couldn’t!) and got lemonade and ice-cream while we enjoyed the view.
Heading back down, we stopped at the actual Most Easterly Point of Australia (I think – it was very confusing) and I was absolutely blown away. I’ve never seen water like that in my life, the colours literally taking my breath away. Ethan wanted to keep going, but I couldn’t help but plonk myself on the grass and watch the waves crash against the rocks. If I could build a little shack there, I seriously would. I’ve never felt so content in my life. I’ve never meditated before, but I feel as if that would be the perfect place to practice it. Oh, Byron.
After our big adventure, we went home to relax and start packing before heading back out for our final feast at Guzman Y Gomez because we were both indecisive and didn’t feel like waiting for anything to cook. After having one last sit at the beach, watching the lighthouse guide sailors home, we commenced the final walk home for the trip.
Day 7: Tuesday
So we may have bought a lot more than we realised, because not only were our suitcases full, but so were our backpacks, totes and a second backpack. I’ll just let you imagine how fun that walk into town was.
We had our final breakfast at Cafe Byron, a restaurant I had been eyeing off the whole trip. Unfortunately, I think they were having a bad day, because the meals took ages and half the things Ethan tried to order were unavailable. I went with something different and ordered the vegetarian breakfast, which was a good choice. It was my first time trying haloumi and I was pleasantly surprised and finally understood what all the hype was about. Overall, we couldn’t really complain, because our bellies were full and we had a place to sit all of our luggage until we caught the bus back to Brisbane, another city that has a special place in my heart.
So, that’s the end of our trip! I know this post was massive, but I wanted to give you guys a thorough idea of what we got up to and the places we ate, because I for one love reading about other peoples’ holidays, and I will probably regularly go back and read this post just to remember how much of a fab time I had.
Honourable mentions go out to the Byron Bay Juice Bar, which we stopped at almost daily for our fruit fix; Byron Bay Night Owl, for meeting Ethan’s hot chocolate needs; and to all of the rad buskers we saw over the weekend sitting out the front of NAB. Byron is a seriously magical little community, and despite having crammed so many things into our week, there’s still a shitload more I want to see. Here’s to heading back next year, hopefully this time with a car, and a little more prepared for the mud.
Over and out,
Bus company: Brisbane 2 Byron Express Bus
AirBnB room: ***CENTRAL BYRON (ROOM), Byron Bay