Sunday, October 20, 2013

Byron Bay...Revisited...Again

It has been some years since I was last in Byron Bay.  I haven't been since I was a lad.  OK, that's probably not strictly true.  It is most likely not that long at all since my last visit, meaning I wasn't quite a lad.  But I'm still 19 in my mind, if definitely not in my body, so you see why I'm easily confused.

Byron Bay is located about 480 miles north of Sydney and is was a quaint little beach town with a somewhat hippy vibe.  The headland, Cape Byron, home to the lighthouse, is the easternmost point of mainland Australia.

The imminent arrival of a public holiday (read bank holiday for UK readers) prompted me to get on the very efficient JetStar website and book myself a cheeky little jaunt north.  

As early as the plane journey up you get a sense of what Byron is slowly turning into.  The stag and hen capital of the east coast.  Whilst trying to surreptitiously photobomb the pictures of a gang of girls sat immediately in front of me my cover was blown by one of the contingent.  Confessing to the nefarious nature of my actions we naturally got chatting and it was one of the those "that accent sounds familiar, where are you from?  Yorkshire?  Me too!" conversations.

It turns out the blushing (yeah right!) bride to be was from Doncaster.  When I said I was from Halifax I was accused of something that I don't think has ever happened before.  "Halifax, that's posh innit?".  Hmm, ladies, when was your last night out in Halifax?  Despite the best efforts of a makeover in Maggies.  And the introduction of the very good Riccis restaurant, to complement La Luna, I am still not sure that "posh" is an adjective that usually gets thrown around Halifax.

Knowing how small Byron is I feel that I may bump into these ladies in the kebab shop later ordering their obligatory cheesy chips for the walk back to their accomodation.

Following a very smooth 1 hour flight there was gorgeous weather on arrival at Balina-Byron gateway airport.  And a very efficient service at the airport had me booked on the door to door shuttle bus service from Steve's Tours ($35).

For this visit, I once again chose to stay in Belongil, a short 10 minutes walk along the perfect golden sands, whilst spotting multiple pods of cavorting dolphins, to the centre of Byron Beach.  Byron Beach Resort, previously Belongil Beach house backpackers was again my abode of choice.  A great hostel, with fantastic amenities and a great cafe (The Tree House) one side and a bistro the other.  

Belongil Beach Resort
Due to the arrival of daylight savings, Sunday arrived an hour earlier than usual.  Well, it didn't really.  I just put my watch forward by one hour.  But such is the vagaries of time.  I took advantage of the early start, and after breakfast I headed off on the walk up to Cape Byron, and the aforementioned lighthouse.  This is about a leisurely one hour walk, but boy was it worth it!  

Sometime ago in Sydney I went whale watching.  You may remember me mentioning it.  And that fact that there was no whales to watch.  Well, that morning, from Cape Byron, I must have seen about six or seven schools of whales.  Breathtaking.  Completely.  One of the moments in life that you just shut up and take in.  At moments like this, I really do stop and tell myself how fortunate I am in life.  Humbling.

The rest of Sunday was taken up with mooching around the monthly markets and then decamping to the awesome Beach Hotel for the Sunday session.  This was madness.  Like the Roxy nightclub of Sowerby Bridge had been transported some 11000 miles down under.  Full of slightly (or maybe very) drunk backpackers and Aussies dancing around like maniacs to a live band.  It turned out this was the pre-entertainment for the NRL Grand Final, which is the rugby league.  I must admit it all got a little bit tedious eventually, including the rugby, so I had a slow walk back along the beach, transfixed by the night sky.  Without the light polution of the cities, the stars you can see are mesmerizing.  Sort of thing I could lay back at stare up at for eternity.

The weekend was drawing to a close and despite only being away for 3 days I already didn't  want to return to the big smoke.  Trips like this, to little havens of paradise like Byron really makes you question whether you are in fact a city person or not.  I'm not.

I loved my 3rd visit to Byron and am already thinking of when I can next return.  And I know I will.  And that it won't be such a long hiatus this time.  A piece of my heart is left in Byron Bay.

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