Winter Weekend Escape: Byron Bay

Desperate to escape the winter chill in Sydney with a yearning to warm the skin and soul, I took off for a long weekend to the well-known and well-loved town of Byron Bay in northern NSW.

Flying into the Gold Coast airport, no time was wasted jumping into a car and driving the 40 mins into the heart of Byron Bay. This time of year is perfect for the Byron get-away, outside of peak tourist times, yet the sun is still warm and the air is fresh. The drive from the airport was instantly relaxing, high-rise buildings were replaced by stretches of green rolling hills and instantly I could feel my Sydney stress evaporating with every breath.

Rising with the sun I wanted to make the most of this acclaimed hippie town so after switching off the mobile I headed into the thick of the hinterlands in search of Crystal Castle.

A 20 min drive from the center of Byron, the roads are narrow and windy but felt enchanting as the trees closed in above the road creating a natural tunnel to weave through as the sunlight licked through the leaves.

Greeted at the castle gates by a friendly gypsy dressed in purple silk, she handed me the site map and off I went on my crystal exploration. Situated on the top of a hill in Mullumbimby, the natural landscape and breathtaking views are beautifully overwhelming.

Enchanting manicured gardens bathed in crystal and stone walkways weave you through the acreage grounds and into tranquil escapes surrounded by spiritual monuments. After reading up on Buddha, Ganesh, Garuda and all gods in-between, it is impossible not to feel enlightened, or at the very least a little more spiritually educated.

Into the Lotus café I nestled into a table on the timber deck for an organic, vegetarian & gluten free lunch of vegetable frittata with fresh salad & homemade dressing. The café is positioned at the highest point on the property and outlooks the crystal grounds and the hinterland beyond. Alongside me at the next table sat 8 monks from Tibet dressed in red ropes. This place feels special if you can get past the corniness of it all, and regardless of which religion or god (if any) that you celebrate, the views alone make it well worth the trip.

Blessed by a monk after lunch before heading back to civilization I stopped into the crystal gift store and collected a few crystal stones which promised to bring me wealth, happiness, confidence and creativity. All this for $28. Now that’s a bargain.

Back into Byron before the sun sets and we head to the beach to enjoy this most eastern point in Australia. Greeted on the sand by locals who handed me a can of beer (I know), I marveled at the bongo drum players, as crowds of locals appeared on the beach to join in with a dance while the sun set. Loosing all inhibitions from either the alcohol or atmosphere one way or another it was an intoxicating experience and by far the greatest sunset I have ever witnessed.

Relaxed and ready to face the hustle and bustle again, this quick trip away left me feeling lighter and brighter and most importantly – warmer. While the hippie lifestyle might not be for everyone, there is certainly something to be said for this popular destination, the kind people, amazing organic food and the impressive landscapes. Best of all, this weekend getaway doesn’t break the bank – in the air for just an hour with Tiger Airways for $150 return. While everyone in Byron keeps dancing to the sound of bongos, my feet are back in Sydney and I’m ready to dance to the beat of my own drum.

Weekend away: Saturday 4th August, 2012

Words and pics by one of Miss Feather’s friendly crew: Kate Lewis

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