Beaches and Backpackers in Byron Bay
Backpackers galore sitting in the park, street musicians playing guitar, old and young wearing flip flops and swimsuits. That was the scene we took in as we got off our quick shuttle from Brisbane to begin our three nights in Byron Bay. Needless to say, Steph and I were very excited to enjoy this popular beach town among tourists and locals alike. While Airlie Beach was clearly more dominated by the backpacker scene, Byron Bay is a wide mix of people. It’s a quick weekend getaway for locals from Brisbane and seemed like a town where Australians from up and down the east coast like to escape to at least once or twice a year. It was also big enough where you could make it a year round home; our Air B&B host was a lifer, it had a thriving live music scene, and even is the host of what looked like an awesome music festival over Easter weekend headlined by Kendrick Lamar.
After meeting our host and dropping off the bags, we wasted no time and immediately headed towards the town center and beach. After being in Brisbane which was so spread out, it was nice to be in a place where we could walk everywhere. The main part of the city center is only a few streets but they are lined with great food choices, shopping, and tons of juice and smoothie bars…which were delicious.
The next morning, we biked up to where a path began for a hike up to the Byron Bay lighthouse. This two-hour walk was really beautiful with the ocean to our left on the way up, a great view of the water from the lighthouse (even with the buckets of rain being poured on us), and then a walk back down through a rainforest. It was Sunday now and we thought the city had quieted down a bit, people appeared to have headed to their next stop or back home after a pretty rowdy Saturday night, with almost every bar having a concert or DJ. Not the case though, because while the young crowd dispersed the older crowd came out to play. We had an almost too good of view for the Byron Bay Naked Bike Ride, which came with all shapes and sizes. Then we headed to the Beach Hotel Bar where we felt young for the first time in a while. I’d say an average age of 60 was out on the dance floor belting out their favorite songs from the cover band and just partying hard for 6:00pm on a Sunday. Of course there was some Journey and AC/DC and it felt like 2:00am at your favorite college bar.
The rest of our trip was filled with some body-surfing, drinking and dancing to a live bluegrass band, cooking up some unbelievable fresh mackerel just caught hours earlier and one more bike ride, this time to a lake that was strangely situated on the other side of the beach from the ocean. Byron Bay treated us well, it was sad to leave but onwards to bigger things and there isn’t anything bigger in Australia than Sydney!