The most relaxed and alternative area of Australia is called the Byron Shire
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I have been fortunate enough that in my life I have visited the Byron Shire several times and I feel its one of the most pretty areas in the world. Not only in terms on natural beauty, also the relaxed vibe and people make this an area that remains close to your heart even when you leave it.
The beach of Byron Bay, picture by Fodors.com
Most travelers coming to Australia visit Byron Bay because of the great surf conditions and hippy vibe. But Byron Bay is not what it used to be, when I was 17 it was still amazing. It was full of old hippies on skateboards and it had a great vibe. Nowadays Byron Bay is flooded with tourists and backpackers, it has become a lot more expensive and lost most of its charm. It is still worth to go there, don't get me wrong. The bay is extremely beautiful as you can see and it is a great spot for surfing. Also it has a few funky places to hang out, however the surrounding area is much more attractive.
The old hippies with skateboards that used to live in Byron Bay all moved to a town called Mullumbimby 20 minutes away from Byron Bay. When you enter you see a sign: ("The Biggest Little Town In Australia").
This little hippie town is more in land and is worth to visit. It has some delicious coffee places and restaurants and on Friday morning there is a weekly farmers market. Farmers markets are one on the best things in Australia. They always find great artists which play some songs while you sit there enjoying your latte and a croissant. The market in Mullem is full of old hippies and most people walk bare feet. A great Friday morning guaranteed.
A nice place to get a coffee and cake in Mullembimby is Scratch Patisserie. We love the food and it is a sweet spot to hang out.
This gorgeous little town is 20 minutes away from Byron Bay and is very special. It is at the coast, has an amazing beach and is located at the mouth of the Brunswick River. The north bank of the river is a protected rainforest and the south bank provides a small port. Mount Chincogan and Mount Warning provide a spectacular hinterland backdrop of the river. You can find some breathtaking spots to have a dip in the river. Watch out for turtles and dolphins! :)
Where to eat in Brunswick Heads
The town itself is very small. They have a little cinema, a few restaurants and shops. Our favorite place to have a bite is called Table view. It has a nice menu and you can see the river if you sit outside. Another great restaurant is called the Park Street Pasta Bar. You'll love the pasta's they have on offer.
New Brighton & Ocean Shores
New Brighton is next to Brunswick Heads and has a super empty beach mostly used by people who walk their dog. It is a pretty wild ocean so not the best beach to swim, but you'll love this beach for its amazing sunrises.
On Tuesday they have a nice market. Same concept as Mullumbimby. Great artists, delicious coffee and the ultimate chill vibe.
If you end up going to Byron Bay make your way to The Farm, especially if you have kids! The food is grown a 100 metres or so from the restaurant and the produce is available for sale. The staff is friendly and the coffee is yummie, I highly recommend.
Where to stay
If you need a place to stay we recommend to stay at The Brunswick in Brunswick Heads. It is close to the river and all the restaurants.
The rooms have a nice design. What we love is that they have the possibility of using paddles and bicycles for free.
Best time to visit
It´s mild, temperate climate makes the Byron Shire a perfect place to holiday year round. The summer months are December, January and February. February is usually the hottest and most humid. Winters are not cold with daily maximums usually reaching a pleasant 19.4 degrees Celsius (66° Fahrenheit) and a minimum of 11 ºC (52 ° Fahrenheit).
Winters are mainly dry and sunny. During the summer chances of rain are higher. Especially evenings can be wet, cooling the day down making for a comfortable overnight temperature.
Fun fact: From June to September you can spot large Humpback whales. Click here to read more.