So when I first started researching places to visit in Australia, I thought Byron Bay was going to be my favorite. An easy-going surfer town with beautiful beaches and bushwalks, I figured this is right up my alley and a great place to end the trip. I booked five nights and was looking forward to lounging on the beach.
Then I got there and realized I was smack in the middle of Schoolies. What is Schoolies? It’s the end of term party week for Year 12 graduates in all three states – Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria. I mean there’s an actual website where they book trips to party for a week post-grad and each state is assigned a specific week. So what was supposed to be chill was basically a high school graduation party.
That being said, I didn’t not enjoy my stay, I just had to modify where I went a bit.
Most of the kids were staying right in the center of town. I had already booked my stay just outside of town on Belongil Beach. This worked out perfectly as I was able to hang out on the beach across the street and avoid Main Beach. Belongil is less busy and caters to more of the local crowd. There were two restaurants at the corner of the street. Each morning I visited Belongil Bistro for breakfast and a couple nights at the Treehouse at Belongil for dinner. Both had great food, super relaxed atmosphere and friendly staff.
My afternoons were spent in town shopping or having lunch. I usually could only handle the city kids playing hippie in their barefeet and twirling balls on strings for a couple hours before heading back to Belongil.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, the Cape Byron Walking Trail was a great day excursion. There is also The Farm, which is a working farm that hosts a farm-to-table restaurant and a few other small businesses, and then the Byron Arts and Industry Estate housing over 30 local artists’ studios and galleries.
When I mentioned going to Byron Bay earlier in my trip people mentioned backpackers and gap year kids, so I’m not sure if it was just the time of year or there’s always such a mass amount of kids wanting to party and pretend to be a hippie for a week. I suppose it’s like any town – the center is hectic and lively – with the outer limits more tame and local oriented. I feel a bit like an old lady writing this and caught myself a few times wanting to tell these kids to put their sunscreen on already!
Byron Bay is definitely worth the visit for scenery, beaches, art, and food. I would still recommend staying either in Belongil or if you can afford it Wategos Beach. Both areas are quieter with local spots for food and entertainment with more of an authentic vibe, and only a short walk to town.