Today was a special day for many reasons, and it lived up to all my expectations. First, it’s my 21st birthday, second it’s my last day in Australia, and third we got to visit Byron Bay!
All semester I had been wanting to visit Byron Bay, a hippie beach town about an hour South of campus. A bunch of my friends went on a trip early on, but I didn’t join the first time since I was a bit overwhelmed with all the different travel options, and every other time just didn’t seem to work out. Somehow, the last week of school I found myself frantically trying to pull strings to make one last trip before leaving Gold Coast, but it was the one thing that just didn’t happen.
However, upon return to Brisbane Tuesday night, we chatted with our Airbnb hosts for a little while, and the women ended up offering to drive us down to Byron and back the next day! Since she works from home she could fit it in her schedule, plus it was a good excuse for a getaway to place she loved as well. One big thing I’ve learned this semester is that sometimes strangers do incredibly nice things for people, and more people should be that way. That evening we had a glass of wine to celebrate 21, and planned on getting up very early to make the day worthwhile. With one open day left in Australia and one destination that had yet to be covered, it’s easy to see that I was over the moon!
The next morning, after two and a half hours of driving, we arrived in Byron! It was a lovely little place, and just as I imagined it. We parked and took a quick look at the beautiful beach, then headed downtown for some coffee and breakfast at one of the many cafes.
Byron is just about in the middle of the east coast, very close to the north border of New South Wales. In the past, the area has been used heavily for industrial and agricultural production, and while it still continues today, it is also a huge tourist destination. Many different types of tourists visit, including celebrities for the boho-chic escape (Miley Cyrus was there a week ago), everyday tourists, and many backpackers traveling through the area. Most people come to Byron for its laid-back and relaxed spirit, where hippies can gather for yoga, music, and art events on the beach with friends. Sounds pretty good, right?
Lighthouse & Watego Beach
After spending the morning casually exploring the town, we drove up to the Cape Byron Lighthouse and had a stunning view of the beach from above. We read about the history of the lighthouse, spotted dolphins swimming just off the coast, and soaked up the sun. Then we followed the short but steep trail down the from the outlook to Watego Beach below. It always amazes how blue the water is, and what a pristine picture nature creates. Along the way, we also stumbled upon an outlook that is actually the most easterly point of the Australian mainland! A few footsteps, and many photos later, we arrived at the beach, where we met our friend who drove the car down as we walked.
View from the lighthouse observation deck
Most easterly point of Australian mainland
Overlook of point outlook during walk
Coastal view along walk
Although it was cold out (for people like me who hate the cold), we were determined enough to put on our swimsuits and at least put our feet in the water. My mom (brave woman) actually went swimming, but it was just too cold for me!
After driving around the area looking at the beautiful and expensive homes and rental properties, we headed back to Byron for lunch at the Beach Hotel restaurant. Our friend said it’s basically a right of passage to eat there if you’re in Byron, and I can see why. Just across the road from the beach, this lovely pub-style restaurant has two bars, a counter to order at, a large stage, and plenty of outdoor seating. It was a great way to appreciate the area, and a fabulous place to enjoy a glass of wine as a newly legal adult! The atmosphere was so pleasant, and we were thrilled that our friend suggested that we eat there.
After a bit more shopping, we started to make our way home, stopping at The Farm Byron Bay. This property is about 15 minutes inland of the beach, and is a working farm with added features. They offer tours and workshops to explain how the farm operates, and also have a garden shop, large restaurant, and cafe on site. It looks as though it would be a fantastic venue to rent out for events like receptions and parties! Although nothing was really opened when we stopped by, it looked close to being ready to open to the public.
On the [Plane] Again
On the back, I still couldn’t believe how perfectly the day pulled together. Somehow, even if there was some rearranging needed or stress involved, everything just seemed to eventually work out throughout my entire semester. I practically had tears in my eyes driving back to Brisbane, but the happy and thankful kind. We had plenty of time to clean up from a day at the beach and finish packing, then took all our luggage ourselves to the airport for one last flight itinerary. It was difficult to board the plane leaving Australia, but all in all, I had to smile through the threatening tears at just how lucky I had been. I have not taken single thing for granted, and was incredibly satisfied with the entirety of my stay abroad. And throughout the flights back home, I will have plenty of time to put my thoughts in order and start wrapping up my semester and travels in and around Australia!