When our co-authors and partners Colleen and Steve suggested a meeting at their place in Byron Bay, we jumped at the chance. This little surfers paradise spot is infamous in Australia for punching above its weight; not just on the surf line but in music festivals, the Byron Bay writers festival, buskers on the beach and great food and shopping.
Located 800 Km's north of Sydney and 165 Km's south of Brisbane, Byron Bay has become a haven for Aussie celebrities. Paul Hogan of Crocodile Dundee used to live here but he is long gone and been replaced by a new crop including actors, Chris Hemsworth and Naomi Watt's. And if you stroll down main beach fronting the town, you might just run into Elle MacPherson or Olivia Newton John. They live here too.
From Singapore, the nearest airport is in Gold Coast and Byron Bay is just over an hours drive south. For the first few days we stayed in Col and Steve's writer's cabin. That lovely spot was just the hill from main house and off the viewing platform and fire pit.
Mornings were breakfast and planning out our book. Short breaks had us looking for the Carpet Python that lived under the viewing platform and came out to sun mid-day. He was not very threatening versus his relative, Monty, who lived in the carport. Monty has never actually been seen but makes his presence felt by leaving giant craps on the roof of Steve's car.
One morning, Steve appeared with Monty's shed skin that he had slipped out of overnight by attaching an edge to a door latch. Without stretching it all we measured him at 14' 2". That, according to google is only a few inches short of the longest Carpet Python in captivity!
Steve has acres of sculptured gardens and can name every tree but I was too busy looking at my feet. This area is very snaky, even in town. In fact, the number one accident treatment in the local hospital is not road accidents, it is snake bites.
The town itself is small and fronts the beach. Not wanting to impose too much, after a few days, we moved to a motel on the beach aptly named, 'Beach Suites'. Nice little place but expensive for what it was. Hey, this is Australia and everything costs a bundle there. Having finished most of our book discussions, we walked the town and found, a bit to our amazement, a beachwear store we knew from St. Tropez.
Main beach is gorgeous and farther south Tallow beach stretches for 7 Km's. Outside our patio to the right was a parking lot full of surfers living in their vans and in the outside of our patio to the right was a parking lot full of surfers living in their vans and in the evenings to our left was a park full of buskers, fire eaters, jugglers and magicians. If you've been to Key West, you might find parts of Byron Bay a little familiar.
Early morning ritual was take away coffee across from the park. After a few visits, I though I recognised a familiar accent. I was right Hamilton, Ontario.
The coffee was fabulous, as it is all over Australia. The food very special too. Col and Steve took us to the lovely Rae's on Watego's, a gorgeous place on the beach, often on the Conde Nast top 25 in the world list. We also loved Fishheads on Watson Street and The Italian Diner in Bangalow, a 15 min drive inland.
A week passed very quickly. I would love to say we will return but Byron Bay is so remote for us that it's unlikely. Still, if you happen to be 800 Km's north of Sydney looking for great oysters by the beach. This is the place.