I am just going to cut to the chase here. You have probably heard of Byron Bay. It is the little coastal town in New South Wales known for its free spirit, beautiful beaches, and damn good coffee. It is a favourite destination for all kinds of tourists and for Brisbane dwellers it allows the opportunity to escape everyday reality with the short drive down making you feel a world away. Recently I decided to see how much fun (and food) I could fit into a day!
The drive from Brisbane is mostly highway and once you get out of the Gold Coast you are treated with some very pretty and very green rolling hills, and landscapes that just open up around you. Ocean on one side, rugged mountains including the dominating Mt Warning, on the other. Ensure the summer tunes are turned up and enjoy the road-trip to start your day.
Just after exiting the highway towards Byron Bay, you will be on Ewingsdale Road, which of course demands a stop at The Farm. Depending on how early you started your day, breakfast may be in order. This is the perfect place to rest and indulge in some of the best coffee I have ever consumed, as well as sample some of the insanely fresh produce at the on-site cafe, Three Blue Ducks.
The staff were super helpful and the menu clearly outlines dietary requirements which I always find makes ordering so much easier. I wasn’t wanting a HUGE breakfast (although I can’t wait to return to try them as they looked sooo good) but there didn’t seem to be any smaller options that were dairy-free. When I asked the waiter she replied with ‘What would you like?’ A simple, ‘eggs on toast?’ was my response. Jarryd got eggs and bacon on toast. She was more than happy to take our order despite it not being on the menu. This simple thing just made the whole experience so much better.
The best thing though is just how fresh the produce is. Produce they can is sourced from the farm itself, and everything else is still sourced locally and organically. Our breakfast was free-range eggs from the chooks we visited at the farm, and the bread had been baked on-site. A simple meal became something so much more and as mentioned, I really want to explore more of their menu as it all looked so delicious and fresh.
Now let’s not forget the coffee. My latte was made with almond milk, again made on-site. Pure coffee perfection. Stop here for coffee if nothing else – you have to try it for yourself.
You cannot leave The Farm without a wander around, checking out the animals and hopefully learning a little about sustainable agriculture along the way. I just had to get a few photos of the cheeky Scottish Highlander cows! They were so friendly and didn’t mind us at all.
Soon it’s time to jump back in the car and head into town.
Traffic in Byron Bay is bad. It is a tiny town that was never meant to handle the influx of tourists that it receives. Be prepared to queue in traffic at roundabouts and to slowly crawl your way through to your next destination. Also be prepared to pay for parking.
We grabbed a spot near the beach in the middle of town and went down to check it out. Unfortunately it was not the weather for swimming and a downpour was imminent! It would have been lovely though as the ocean was so calm. Perfectly relaxing. I have spent a lot of time at the beaches around this area over the years and have to say that on a good day, they are unbeatable.
After driving around a little and stopping for another coffee (coz when in Byron…) we made our way up to the lighthouse. Parking at the top next to the lighthouse is $8 but parks are quite limited. We were not one of the lucky ones to get a park so we drove back down the hill. We did however get a spot about halfway down, saving us the full walk up the steep incline. We parked for 1.5hrs for $6 which is the standard rate around town.
It was a hot, humid, cloudy day – typical of the coast in summer. The weather though didn’t impact our view. It really is a beautiful walk around the lighthouse, taking in the views of the coast and the beach below. The walk is not complete without heading down the track and making your way to the most easterly point of mainland Australia. The walk continues down below and out to the rocks. I will be heading out here next time for sure however on this particular trip my shoe broke and I was walking barefoot – why do I always end up walking with inappropriate footwear??
There is a cafe at the lighthouse as well so you can enjoy a drink or a snack while taking in more of those epic views over Byron Bay. After walking around in the humidity, a cold and refreshing green juice was just what I needed!
After all of our exploring it was time to turn our thoughts to lunch. We stopped in at Bayleaf Cafe which had been recommended to me and I am very glad we did. It is a cute little place that has a big open kitchen and mostly outdoor dining, it is perfect for a relaxing meal and a way to get out of the heat.
They have an extensive drinks menu and needing something cold Jarryd ordered the freshly brewed ginger beer and I chose an iced coffee. Originally I wanted to try the coffee spritzer which sounded interesting being a combination of coffee and lemonade however they had run out. The waiter suggested their house brewed and infused iced coconut coffee which was served with a side of sweetened coconut cream. It. Was. Delicious.
With so many amazing sounding options on the menu, it was a hard choice to order. I definitely think this is more of lazy Sunday brunch kind of place but it gave us everything we were looking for with more fresh, local produce and delicious flavours. I had the pork bun, a burger with pulled pork and freshly pickled vegetables, while Jarryd had the Portuguese chicken which looked amazing and he said it tasted better than it looked! I will be ordering that next time!
The afternoon is a perfect time to spend looking through the many boutique shops that line the main street, or sneaking in one last trip to the beach before making the drive home.
A visit to Byron Bay is not complete without experiencing the beach, the fresh produce, the coffee, and the chilled vibe. With the increase of people the chilled vibe is harder to come by and some would say the town is losing some of its charm. While I think this is true, I believe what makes Byron Bay so loved is still there, you may just have to look a little harder to find it.
Have you been to Byron Bay? What is the best coffee you have ever had? How do you think tourism affects the authenticity of a place?