Like migratory birds, Guest Traveller Katie Clitherow, the woman behind cleaneatsfromafilthymouth.com, and her family flew north for winter and into the arms of Byron Bay in northern NSW. How did they go? Will they be back? Let’s hear how this little tribe found one of Australia’s most popular coastal destinations…
Byron Bay is exactly the sort of bohemian paradise I would have fallen in love with as a young, carefree backpacker tripping around the world with a boyfriend and three changes of clothing. I am neither young nor carefree these days, my travelling companions include a husband and two small humans (who we own, not just random small people), and I find the idea of living out of a backpack abhorrent, but I still managed to fall wholeheartedly in love with Byron.
We took our annual ‘oh god how much longer can winter go on, give me some sun’ October escape and traded the hipsters and man-buns of Melbourne for the hippies and dreadlocks of Byron.
Byron Bay is undoubtedly a family friendly destination with the beautiful beaches, laid back vibe and huge range of eateries for all hours of the day. There’s no shortage of fabulous caffeine dealers, brunch spots and relaxed restaurants where the kids can be quite happily entertained with a bowl of chips while the adults enjoy a grown up beverage to toast the end of a hectic day on the sand.
Sundowner cocktails and oysters at the Balcony Bar & Oyster Co are also a must and kids are also welcome and well catered for making it an easy stop for an early dinner on the way home from the beach or come later sans offspring to catch some of the regular live music.
I’m firmly of the view that there should be at least one swanky adults only night out, and if you’re going to do it, do it in style at Rae’s on Wategoes a quick taxi ride over the hill. The location is gorgeous, food amazing and wine list impressive yet the atmosphere is refreshingly relaxed so you can enjoy fine dining without a side of stuffiness.
A visit to the Cape Byron Lighthouse is a must for the truly stunning vistas from Australia’s most easterly point. Time it right and you may even spot whales on their annual migration. If you’re feeling energetic make the trip on foot via the Cape Byron walking track enjoying spectacular views through rainforest, beach and bush. Allow a good 2-3 hours to make the most of it. For those less inclined to exertion or just too deeply entrenched in holiday mode there’s always the option to drive or catch the bus.
Although you can quite happily spend a week beach bumming there are a few great excursions slightly further afield that are worth including on the itinerary. The Farm is a fun little outing which, as the name would suggest, is a working farm with the added attraction of a very decent café to enjoy a post-exploration meal. I grew up on a small patch of dirt in rural New Zealand so I was used to having livestock in the backyard. Our kids however are total townies so it was a cute chance for them to get up close and personal with sheep, cows, goats and pigs and thankfully not snakes, although the unexpected star of the show was a very friendly mouse.
A trip to the historic village of Newrybar is also well worthwhile. It’s a very cute hamlet an easy 30 minutes’ drive from Byron Bay with an interesting little array of shops as well as being home the acclaimed Harvest Café which has a well-deserved reputation for gourmet food. This is another meal out probably best done sans offspring for maximum enjoyment. Book a babysitter and a table in advance to secure a spot. Our small child managed to find his way to the local fire station where the staff were happy to give him an impromptu tour adding to the small town charm.
The Byron region is also known for its myriad of markets with plenty of arts, crafts and foodstuffs on sale throughout the week.
It’s not hard to see why Byron Bay is such a favourite destination for families and free spirited travellers alike. The beautiful beaches, laid back locals and (hopefully) sunny weather make it a very welcoming spot to escape to. We’ll definitely be back with our little tribe in tow.
Katie’s Top Tips For a Family Holiday in Byron Bay That Feels Like a Break For Parents, Too:
- Choose an apartment within easy walking distance to the beach so little legs can make the stroll or you can easily pop back for breaks when all the sun and sand gets a bit much.
- Although we no longer have the unencumbered freedom of our twenties, we do have a slightly more favourable financial situation which means we can manufacture a bit of holiday free-spiritedness, largely by outsourcing. I no longer take our own pram, portacot, kids car seats or a beach tent on holiday. Lugging an extra 100kg of child related paraphernalia on a plane does little to instil a sense of lightness. And why bother when I can arrange to have it all delivered to the hotel and collected at the end of the week for a ridiculously reasonable fee.
- I find getting the kids in and out of the car some of the most stressful times of my day so if I’d rather avoid that on holiday if possible. The beauty of Byron is that everything is within easy walking distance and if you want to venture further afield taxis and minivans are readily available.
- Likewise, grocery shopping. I feel like I do that nine days out of seven at home, why would I do it on holiday? However, eating out for every single meal with kids can also kill the fun holiday mood quick smart so I always whistle up a Woolworths delivery for the day of our arrival to keep us stocked in the essentials. Like wine.
- Book a babysitter in advance to ensure you have a couple of child-free outings secured. Head out, dine at swanky restaurants, then hit the fashionable bars and drink cocktails past bedtime that you’ll definitely regret in the morning.