Byron Bay

Clarkes Beach, Byron Bay. Cape Byron is visible in the distance.

Byron Bay is a coastal town in the Northern Rivers of New South Wales, located just off the Pacific Highway, approximately 800 km north of Sydney and 175 km south of Brisbane. Nearby Cape Byron is the easternmost point on the Australian mainland.

Understand

Byron Bay is famed worldwide for its surfing beaches, scuba diving, whale watching, rural beauty and a laid back lifestyle. It is a major tourist centre.

Byron Bay and its surrounding area have a population of about 30,000. The area has experienced a dramatic increase in tourism now standing at 1.7 million+ visitors per year. During summer time the western road in and out of town to the North can get crowded and slow. Entry via Ross Lane off the highway to the south might offer travellers a quicker solution in holiday periods.

The community of Suffolk Park lies a five minute drive south of Byron, along Tallows Beach.  It offers a quieter alternative to the heart of Byron, but for most services you will find yourself making the trip into Byron.

The towns of Bangalow and Nimbin lie inland, under an hours drive away. Lennox Head and Ballina are to the south.

There are many thriving home-based businesses focused on alternative, holistic, cultural and knowledge industries, with a growing population of artists, writers and filmmakers.

Byron Bay is renowned for capturing the hearts of the people that visit. Many people end up staying. The community spirit in Byron Bay and the surrounding areas is strong. There are many people and groups doing their bit to help. For more information about the spirit of Byron and how to get involved with this work go to the Real Byron Bay website and read the interviews

Get in

By plane

The nearest airport is Ballina/Byron Airport (BNK) around 30 minutes drive away at Ballina. There are flights from Sydney and Melbourne. There are regular shuttle services from the airport and most of them are door to door. Book online to save money . Xcede Airport Transfers and Steve's Tours Airport Express offer shuttle services direct to your door.

Gold Coast Airport (OOL) is around 1 hour away at Coolangatta and has domestic flights and international flights from New Zealand, Malaysia, and Japan. It often has cheaper flights and cheaper car hire than Ballina. There are a number of transport operators from the airport to Byron Bay. For example, Byron Bay - Surfers Express do pick-up and drop-off at the airport in their runs between Byron Bay and Surfers Paradise for $27. Xcede Airport Transfers offer shuttle services direct to your door.

By bus

Regular coach services travel between Sydney and Brisbane via Byron Bay.

By car

Byron is around 9 hours drive from Sydney. A good days drive, with many possibilities to stop and rest. Traffic on the Pacific Highway gets busy during school holiday periods. Avoid traffic delays entering Byron from the Ewingsdale Pacific Highway exit. Take the Pacific Highway Lennox Head exit at Ross Lane and enter Byron from the south.

Byron is only just over an hour from the Gold Coast, and just over two hours from Brisbane.

By tour

Many surfing or backpacker tours along the east coast.

By train

Trains no longer stop next to the Railway Hotel. You can transfer to a coach from the train at Casino. You can buy a through ticket. Casino is located quite a distance from Byron Bay and it might often be best to get a bus directly to Byron, saving a lot of trouble. Or, if you are lucky enough most of the domestic airlines have sales on pretty consistently from most major cities to the Gold Coast, Brisbane and less frequently Ballina. All of these are closer than Casino and may be cheaper if you find the right sale.

Get around

There is limited regular public transport within Byron Bay, operated by Blanch's Bus Company - however most destinations within the bay are walkable, including The Lighthouse Walk. The Byron Shire Council has installed parking ticket machines, with the fee being $2 per hour.

See

Do

Surfing

Byron Bay has good surf with a variety of beaches within the town limits. It has occupied the imagination of Australians for many years for its climate, lifestyle and warm water.

It is not uncommon to surf among pods of common dolphins as the evening winds down in Byron, especially if you are surfing Watego's or the Pass.

If you visit Byron bay but don't have a surfboard with you, you can hire a surfboard online in the Bay for 20 USD a day and 120 USD a week at www.rentasurfboard.com

Beachgoing

A clothing optional beach called Belongil is situated north of the Byron Beach Club at Tyagarah. Access via Grays Lane and a walking track from the Pacific Highway.

Marine activities

Byron Bay has some of New South Wales's best scuba diving. Most diving is at Julian Rocks, only five minutes off shore. The depths around Julian Rocks are 5–25 meters, and it's suitable for snorkeling. You can dive with the following operators:

Walking and cycling

Events

Find out about upcoming events in "The Bagg", a local publication out on Mondays.

If you see the free hug guy around in Byron. Be sure to give him a hug and a few dollars so he can move out of his parents home and live in Byron Bay one day

Buy

Eat

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Drink

Byron Bay has a very vibrant social scene for a town of its size. Bands play most nights at the Beach Hotel (on the beach) and the Railway Friendly Bar. The Great Northern hosts the more important bands. The Buddha Bar serves backpackers from the Piggery Backpackers and has a very chilled out bar and attached restaurant and cinema.

Nightclubs are Cocomangas (get a Jam Jar), La La Land (Lawson St), Play (Woolworths Plaza) and the backpackers' favourite, Cheeky Monkeys (dancing on tables ahoy!). This can also be a good place to go out on Mondays and Tuesdays when everywhere else is quiet.

Find out what to do about town by picking up a copy of 'The Bagg', a gig and entertainment guide out every Monday.

Sleep

Byron Bay is a well established destination for backpackers, schoolies, families and couples, and there are choice of accommodation styles catering to all of them.

Most local real estate agents handle holiday house rentals, and there are many in the beach areas, and even further into suburban Byron. Some bed-and-breakfasts have been created by building additions to once suburban Byron houses.

Camping on the beach is illegal. Council rangers will issue fines if you camp for free. Camp at Belongil fields or Byron tourist village if you need somewhere cheap to camp and it never gets full. You can set up camp at night and pay the next morning

Budget

Mid-range

Stay safe

Be careful of drink spiking - always keep your drink in view and don't accept drinks from strangers. If a stranger does shout you a drink make sure it is the drink you want and watch the drink being poured and handed over to you without it leaving your sight. Never get a stranger to buy a drink on your behalf with your money. They could buy something else and drink it themselves. If you are refused a drink by the bar there is a good reason why.

Swimming - always swim between the flags. Avoid swimming at night especially on your own. Follow all instructions issued by lifeguards

North Coast Medical Centre, 24 Shirley St, Byron Bay,  +61 2 6685 8666. M-F 9AM-6PM. Need a doctor?  You'll find both traditional and alternative ones at the  North Coast Medical Centre.

Go next

Explore the 'Rainbow Region' - rural towns and sleepy villages, set in lush and particularly scenic countryside. The area is famed as a haven for alternative culture. Nimbin and the Channon are the favourite towns to visit in this region. There is a popular market in the Channon once a month, well on the tourist trail. Bangalow features a nice relaxed old-town main street.

There are many scenic wonders in the area. Byron area has many rainforests & parks. The volcanic plug of Mount Warning is a favourite tour. It can be reached by driving into Murwillumbah and following the roads to the small village of Uki. There are many waterfalls like Minyon Falls (direction Federal-Rosebank), Protester Falls (the Channon area) and Wanaganui Falls (Wilsons Creek). The drive to these falls is very scenic as it follows the creek and a narrow valley a some nice rainforest.

Brunswick Heads is a nice day trip. The pub is a good place to relax for a meal by the river and it has some quieter beaches. Between Byron Bay and Ballina there is a nice coastal drive which passes through the quiet coastal town of Lennox Head. If you stick to the coastal roads you will see many more beaches and coastal scenery than the highway.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Monday, November 16, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.