Byron Bay is a two-hour drive from Brisbane in the Gold Coast of Australia. The scenery changed from major city to tropical island paradise. We stayed in a house through air b&b (see accommodations page) and lived like locals for six nights.
The main area of Byron Bay is a beachfront town with lots of shopping and restaurants. Young travelers flock here for the beaches and surfing. In the center of town are many backpacking hostels and a few clubs geared towards the young travelers. The beaches are incredible and spacious. Australians respect their beaches and it shows; they are spotless.
The first day we spent the day at Main Beach Byron Bay in the center of town. This beach is patrolled by the Surf Club lifesavers and there is shopping right across the parking lot. Australians teach their children to swim in the ocean at an early age. I witnessed a few families carrying their babies in the ocean to get wet. The Surf Club life savers patrol most of the beaches in Australia. Some of the lifeguards-in-training are as young as 5, they are known as nippers. Nippers are aged 5-13 and learn swimming, board paddling, beach sprinting, dolphin-diving and spotting a riptide.
The Cape Byron State Conservation area starts the beach walk to Wategoes at Clarkes Beach. Clarkes beach is popular to surfers and has a lookout point to view the surfing.
Wategoes beach is popular beach on the northern side of Cape Byron. This beach was my favorite because it was in a large cove and the waves weren’t as strong here. The ocean on the Gold Coast of Australia can be very rough to swim in the shallow area because of the waves.
Cape Byron Lighthouse is on the top of the mountain from Wategoes and can be reached by a steep hike up. We originally planned on hiking there, but got sidetracked once we saw Wategoes beach on the way there. Instead of continuing the hike, we decided to chill on the beach and swim all day.
This is where I first noticed surfers living out of their vans. Every now and then I would pass by a surfer dude standing outside the side door of an old van with a small dresser, a twin mattress and a surf board inside.
One girl had a twin mattress in the back of her SUV with back seat folded down. She was laying on her stomach in bed talking to her friends standing outside of the car. It looked like a daytime slumber party minus everything but the mattress.
Byron Bay has a really laid back relaxed vibe but it is also upscale. Nothing is cheap unless you are staying at a backpacker hostel. The cost of living is on a higher scale but the area is beautiful.
We were here during the American presidential election day. Everyone was glued to the tv around town during the counting of the votes. It was shocking to most of us that Donald Trump won the election. Soon after the results came in the Prime Minister of Australia came on the television broadcasting a live speech. He told the citizens of Australia not to worry about the results of the election. He asked everyone to calm down, Australia has a great relationship with America and there is nothing to worry about. He looked surprised and stressed himself. The local news was asking their correspondents in America what was going on and what now, etc. It lasted a few days and then it wasn’t the first story anymore.
One of the highlights of Byron Bay was seeing wild Australian water dragons running around the yard and wooded areas. These reptiles look like a bearded dragon but larger.
We encountered a “resident’ dragon at the house we were renting. I made a connection with him by throwing bbq meat at him while I was grilling. He loved it. He would eat the meat and wait for another piece. When the meat was gone, he waited an hour before leaving the bbq area.
The Australian brushturkey is a large bird with black feathers and a red-head. They are not related to the American turkey. I loved seeing them. I fed them any chance I could and they would eat pretty much anything I gave them. The only problem is they can be pest around restaurants. While dining outdoors I noticed they have no shame in climbing on empty dirty tables to eat the scraps before the server clears the dishes. Even though they are huge, I think they forget how noticeable they are when they beg for food.
Speaking of birds, I did make some friends on the beach here. I really loved Byron Bay and could see myself living here full-time. The town is beautiful and the ocean is just steps away. Hopefully we will return here again one day, until then it’s off to Burleigh Head Australia just a few miles away.