Byron Bay was a place I had heard lots about from Australians, who spoke of its lush, spiritual beauty in hushed tones. So when I got the opportunity to take the kids to Australia’s Gold Coast, it seemed only fair that if the kids got to visit Dreamworld, I got to visit Nirvana.
The 1½ hr drive from the Gold Coast down the Pacific Highway was typical Australia, big skies, eucalyptus trees and fields of sugar cane — exotic enough to keep the kids staring out of the window. For once there were no cries of “are we there yet” from the back seat. As it was school holidays the road going into Byron Bay was busy, but driving slowly gave me a chance to read the signs of home businesses lining the road; therapists, artists, massage, healing, spas…
Once through the traffic we headed straight for the beach and a swim in the surf. Had we visited on a rainy and less spectacular day I’m not sure we would have been quite so dazzled. But, in the sun, Main Beach is all sparkling blue and white and a favourite of surfers. A trip up the hill to the lighthouse delivered views of rather luxurious housing on the Byron Bay side, and sweeping views of Tallow beach and the New South Wales coastline on the other.
Back in town I was reminded of Bali, with its mix of organic cafes, small boutiques with batik flowing in the breeze, and high street clothing stores. Full of artists, travelers, seekers and laid-back folk, Byron Bay is a bohemian melting pot. However, lurking in the background I caught a whiff of discontent (although this may have been because for the first time in my life I was breath tested during the day?!). Prices have soared in the area and I couldn’t help wondering how long it would take for developers to drive away the very beauty and vibe that attracted people to the Bay.