Wanting a family holiday to Australia but been to the Gold Coast and the other usual tourist spots and you are wanting something more laid back? Head to Byron Bay.
Air New Zealand operate a direct flight from Auckland to Coolangatta Airport between four and seven times a week depending on your month of travel.
Air New Zealand also operate a direct flight from Christchurch to Coolangatta between two and four times a week depending on your month of travel. These flights are an alternative to flying into Brisbane (the drive from Brisbane is around 2 hours).
I would recommend hiring a car while in Byron Bay, as it is easy to get around and explore the many sights that the Byron Bay area has to offer. Alternatively, you could catch as shuttle bus from Coolangatta Airport to Bryon with Byron Bay Shuttle who operate this route 4 times a day.
The Byron Bay area is around 1-hour drive south of Coolangatta Airport in Northern New South Wales. Something to be mindful of though is that during daylight savings there is a 1-hour time difference between Queensland (where Coolangatta Airport is located) and New South Wales.
If you travelling as a family a great alternative to the apartments that you might find in Surfers Paradise would be to hire and head to Discovery Parks Byron Bay. A great option is one of their Deluxe 2 bedroom cabins with a full kitchen that sleep between four and six people. They have a new AUD $1.2 million waterpark for the kids with a separate pool and a bouncy pillow. Alternatively, try something a bit different – a Deluxe Safari Tent that sleeps 4, has a full kitchen and bathroom and a BBQ on the deck.
Mount Warning erupted around 23 million years ago, Byron Bay and the surrounding area sit on the volcanic deposits left behind so the soil is very rich in minerals making the Byron Bar area a great place to grow all sorts of fruit and vegetables.
At the other end of the scale from the deluxe Discovery Park Byron Bay is Elements of Bryon Resort & Spa. A beautiful 5-star property set in 20-acres of native rainforest. Enjoy a stroll on the beach, yoga on the beach, spa treatments or just hand out by the pool. This resort is quite spread out so you can request that a staff member come and get you in a golf cart if you would prefer not to walk.
Some of the many things I experienced during my time in the Byron Bay area were –
Duck Creek Macadamias
Try out some flavours that you never thought of adding to macadamia nuts like abalone, garlic and wasabi. You can visit the quaint old farmhouse on site and try your hand at cracking a macadamia nut shell – not as easy as it sounds and purchase you nuts, that come in numerous flavours
The federation (historic) town of Bangalow was settle by European in the 1840’s. Have a wonder around this quaint old town, take in the beautiful heritage architecture, boutique shops, lush parks, art galleries, and sample some of the local produce.
An 86-acre working biological farm that encourages locals and visitors alike to enjoy food and coffee from their on-site coffee shop, restaurant and bar (the majority of produce used in at The Farm is grown onsite) or bring your own picnic and enjoy the surroundings and farm animals. There are self-guided tours, with maps available at the entrance. They house a collection of micro-businesses that all share a common goal of – supporting the environment and contributing to a healthier lifestyle
Some of the other eateries in the area that I can recommend would be Byron Fresh Café, Finns Restaurant (Kingscliff), The Treehouse on Belongil. All serve fresh, locally grown food and you will find many of them serving some of the locally brewed beers and gin.
Crystal Castle & Shambhala Gardens
Located 20-minutes’ drive from Byron Bay is the Crystal Castle & Shambhala Gardens. Your entrance fee includes a rand of different experiences, which run at different set time during the day and include crystal workshops and mediation classes. See the Crystal Guardians - the world’s tallest crystal geodes from Uruguay - the Enchanted Cave, the Labyrinth, Fountain of Peace, the Buddha Walk, the Rainforest Walk and Bamboo Avenue. There is also a café and crystal shop for those that would like to purchase crystals.
Tweed Eco Cruise – Crab & Yabbies tour
A family owned and operated business that special in fresh seafood and nature cruises up and down the Tweed River. They have a number of different cruise options. I did the Crabs and Yabbies cruise which includes a lunch of free cooked seafood, afternoon tea, informative talks my guides on the mud crabs and yabbies, trapping mud crab, fishing off the vessel and Yabbies pumping – collecting the bait from a sandy island in the middle of the river and feed pelicans that come from all over to visit at the boat pulls up.
Cape Byron Kayaks
The perfect way to get out amongst nature with the possibility of seeing whales, dolphins and seat turtles. The tour takes about 3 hours with the tour finishing with being able to surf a wave into Byron Bay then enjoy a hot drink and Tim-Tams. Tours are suitable for all ages and experience and all equipment required is provided – just take your togs and a towel
Sunrise at the Eastern most point of Australia – Cape Byron
Want an amazing experience! You can walk up to the lighthouse yourself to experience the beauty of sunrise over the eastern most point of Australia or you can combine it with an amazing breakfast up there after the sun has risen. All the food that is served by the Katie and her staff at Toast the Sun is organically grown in the region and handmade – beautiful fluffy waffles, muesli and tortillas
For those of you the like to support local breweries and distilleries –
Cape Byron Distillery
Located in the heart of a subtropical rainforest Brookie’s Gin offer a two-hour tours3 days a week. Included in the tour is a gin and tonic on arrival, a guided walk through the rainforest and a gin-tasting session that explores the art of distillation. The Brook family brought the land as a run-down dairy farm 30 years ago and have worked on rejuvenating the rainforest ever since. Eighteen of the 26 ingredients from the ‘rainforest-infused’ gin come from their rainforest
Stone & Wood Brewery
The Stone & Wood Brewery operates as a tasting room – they do not sell food or soft drink – you pick from their range of different beers for your tasting paddle of five beers for AUD 15