Local’s guide: Byron Bay

Byron Bay Byron Bay NSW my nrma locals guide
Byron Bay Byron Bay NSW my nrma locals guide

It’s hard not to relax in one of Australia’s most laidback towns. Experience the unmistakable vibe, and stunning beauty, of NSW’s Byron Bay.

  • Family friendly dining at The Farm Byron Bay
  • Wategos Beach
  • Cape Byron Lighthouse
  • Nightcap National Park

A handpainted sign welcomes you to one of the country’s most famous beachside destinations: “Welcome to Byron Bay. Cheer up, slow down, chill out.” Located in northern NSW, 800km north of Sydney and 175km south of Brisbane, Byron has been a popular tourist destination since the 1960s, when hippies and surfers established the town’s now famous bohemian community. Luxury hotels and fine dining restaurants have joined the fray, capturing Byron’s essence with their emphasis on creativity and sustainability. With a range of natural and cultural attractions to suit all travellers, it’s easy to see what all the fuss is about.

The Byron Bay and surrounds community has been impacted by bushfires, floods and COVID-19 – please check the places you plan to visit before setting off. Please also be a responsible traveller: if you feel unwell, stay home and do not visit these communities and businesses.

Where to eat

There’s no shortage of good food to be found in Byron Bay – whether it’s kombucha and free range eggs at Bayleaf Cafe, burgers and milkshakes at Top Shop (join the locals and eat on the grass) or tacos and tequila at Miss Margarita. But some of the best food is found before you even arrive at the town centre.

Your first stop should be The Farm Byron Bay, home to Three Blue Ducks restaurant and produce store. Dine in for a lunch of pork rack, beetroot and stone fruit sauce (there’s a “Ducklings” menu for the kids), pick up picnic supplies and head for the fields or, at the weekend, head out to the BBQ area for an Argentine style spit roast. Children will love the many farm based activities on offer, too (check the website for school holiday workshops).

Further along Ewingsdale Road, 3km out of Byron, is 100 Mile Table. Located in the Arts and Industry Estate, it’s here you’re likely to find yourself dining alongside local fashion designer or artist enjoying a coffee and toastie.

To taste the lauded local seafood, book a window table at the relaxed but refined Beach Byron Bay, or splurge on a fine dining experience at the recently renovated Raes on Wategos.

What to do

The 3.7km Cape Byron Walking Track is one of the best ways to appreciate the area’s natural beauty. The loop can be joined from numerous places, but make sure you don’t miss Wategos Beach. From there, it’s a sleep climb (or a short taxi ride) up to Cape Byron Lighthouse, the most easterly point of the Australian mainland, where the panoramic view is likely to reveal a frolicking pod of dolphins or a migrating whale.

Rather see the resident marine life up close? Join a Dolphin Kayak Tour with Go Sea Kayaks, owned and operated by local champion surf lifesaver Kurt Tutt.

Keen to just chill out and soak up the atmosphere? Drop a line at Tallow Beach in search of bluefin tuna, whiting or bream, go for a dip at sheltered Clarke’s Beach, or simply lie back and watch the passing parade at Main Beach.

Where to explore

There are so many other amazing destinations close to Byron that a regional day trip is a must do. A 20 minute drive north is the hinterland town of Mullimbimby. Visit on a Friday and join the locals at the Farmers’ Market, or time your trip for the third Saturday of the month to catch the Mullum Markets – both feature live entertainment a range of locally made products.

Federal is a tiny village 30 minutes’ drive west of Byron and is a lovely place for a wander. Locals make the trip to dine at Japanese inspired Doma Cafe – you won’t regret ordering the tempura.

Newrybar, 20 minutes south, also has a famous cafe, Harvest. Like many restaurants in the Hinterland region, the emphasis here is on local produce. Stop in at Newrybar Merchants after lunch to browse artisan gifts and homewares. Or, if you have kids in tow, detour to the medieval styled Macadamia Castle – it’s an animal park, mini golf course, playground, cafe and more.

Further afield – about an hour’s drive west – is Nimbin, often cited as Australia’s alternative lifestyle capital. The main street is full of quirky cafes, and shops selling candles and hemp products, but there’s plenty for nature lovers, too. Admire the volcanic Nimbin Rocks, wander the World Heritage listed rainforest of Nightcap National Park and witness the waterfalls of Border Ranges National Park.

Where to stay

If you want to be at the centre of the action, Byron Bay Hotel and Apartments invites you to join them and live like a local. Just a 150m hop, skip and jump to Main Beach, and surrounded by cafes, restaurants and fashion boutiques, the stylish property offers a a range of accommodation options, including King hotel-style rooms to spacious one, two, or three bedroom apartments equipped with gourmet kitchen, dishwasher, oven, fridge, flat-screen TV’s and private balcony, and toiletries and linen provided. There’s also a pool, free WIFI and onsite hire bikes to explore town.

If you’d rather wake up to the sound of native birds, book one of the nine budget friendly self-contained cottages at Byron Bay Rainforest Resort. Three kilometres south of town, the simple one and two bedroom cottages are set in 16ha of coastal rainforest and within walking distance of Tallows Beach. The resort is pet friendly, wheelchair accessible and features a pool and communal games room.

NRMA members can also save on car hire in Byron Bay at SIXT with 15% off daily rental rates.

Save 20% off accommodation at Byron Bay Hotel and Apartments

Members can save up to 20% on the best available room rate with late check out, as well as 10% off food and beverage.