I suppose I’m a bit of a hippie myself, if truth be known. Had a great time at the Glastonbury Festival in 1992, highlights for me being The Fall, The Orb, The Ukrainians and John Otway. It doesn’t get too much more hippy town than Glastonbury.
But, of course, I now live in Australia.
One town here though has been growing on me, the more I visit, the more I like it.
- Our Byron Bay Weekend
- Snakes in Australia: My First Real Live Encounter
- A Day at Byron Bay
- The Australian Way of Holidaying; A Rethink
It’s also somewhere that I wrote about recently for Australia and New Zealand magazine, it appeared in their April edition and we called it…
The alternative lifestyle
It is a favourite haunt of hippies; a town more in line with the 70s which appears to be in no hurry to catch up. Rainbow coloured clothing and dreadlocks are popular with the locals. People dance in the street to the sound of bongos and buskers.
General practitioners are pushed aside in favour of holistic and spiritual healing. Here you can join a kundalini workshop; no, I have no idea either. Not sure what Tibetan eye reading or cranial sacral balancing is either, but you can get that here too. The nearby rolling hills offer ample opportunity for tree huggers.
The mantra for this town is ‘Cheer up, slow down, chillout.’
This town has a unique energy, explained by possibly being on lay lines or sitting on a bed of crystals. Every year there is a big outdoor music festival and thousands and thousands of people come, it’s very popular. By now, you might possibly be thinking of Glastonbury, but that’s not what I’m thinking, because I live in Australia.
If I continue my description, I’m sure all thoughts any of you might have had about the Somerset town will quickly disappear.
Well, I’m not really sure the game hasn’t already been given away by the pictures above us of a stunning beach line with hinterlands behind it. Yes, this place has a beach; in fact being on a peninsular it has many beaches facing different directions.
It is also, for the record, the furthermost eastern point of the Australian mainland.
Added bonus for my readers, not available in the magazine…
And here I am, wearing my most ridiculously hippy T-shirt, posing with four of my favourite girls, standing next to the sign that says it is the furthermost eastern point of the Australian mainland…
So as well as being a favourite haunt of musos, Bohemians, tarot readers, stargazers and vegetarians, it’s also a popular destination for surfies. It really doesn’t matter which way the wind is blowing, there is a beach where surfers can catch the waves. If you are like me though, and not much of a surfer dude, there’s also a very large pub on the front. You can catch the sea breezes instead and have a beer overlooking the ocean.
Yes, I’m in Byron Bay, a town about a 2 ½ hour drive south of Brisbane on the coast of northern New South Wales. With the nearby and quite extraordinary hippy town of Nimbin, that’s another story, and the laid-back town of Mullumbimby, Byron Bay completes a compact obtuse triangle of alternative lifestyle living in Australia.
The area has been a sacred healing ground for aboriginals for over 20,000 years. The music festival I mentioned is actually the Byron Bay Bluesfest, which has been going since 1990 and is held over the long Easter weekend.
It might not match Glastonbury’s band list, but it has a good go in every other way. It all takes place in 120 hectares, with seven stages, over 200 performers and an audience of more than 100,000. It has camping facilities, five licenced bars, over 100 food outlets and is a festival full of family friendly fun.
Pretty good effort, I’d say.
Seems to me that Byron Bay is the Australian version of Glastonbury, but with added beaches, glorious weather and beautiful blue skies. It also provides glimpses of manta rays, dolphins and at the right time of the year, whales. We’ve been there four times in nine years; never hugged a tree, but if that’s your thing, Byron is the place to be.