Sun, sand, and surfers! What more could a girl want?
There is a definite vibe to Byron Bay. It starts way out on the highway. Instead of the usual welcome sign, it says, “Chill out in Byron Bay.” I took this to heart and determined that for the next couple days I would do just that.
We had to laugh when Jim booked a deep tissue massage for his still recovering back and asked directions. The lady said, “I don’t know the physical address,” (as opposed to what, I had to wonder – spiritual address?) “but we are on Lawson Street,” (as if this explained almost everything), “next to Twisted Sista Coffee Shop.” (as if everyone on the planet knew where THAT was!)
After a lovely deck lunch, made from all the goodies I had purchased at the Queen Street Market yesterday, it was my job to walk into town and suss out Jim’s massage place, Tonic, and choose a few candidates for dinner.
Indeed, following the masseuse’s directions, I found Jim’s Tonic quite quickly. As it turns out, Lawson Street (not to be confused with Lawson Lane which runs parallel to it) is one of the main drags, but it is only the main drag for two blocks, thus cutting my options way down. Funnily enough, through all my twists and turns in Byron Bay, whenever I got lost I just looked for Twisted Sista as my landmark. Maybe if everyone on the planet did know where Twisted Sista was, no one would ever get lost again. Chill man!
From here I headed to the beach to gaze at the beautiful breakers and marvel at the number of sun bleached blonds baking on the beach and being tossed about on surf boards. It really is a surfer’s paradise. I felt like I should be in California, and strains of the Beach Boys greatest hits sprang unwanted into my mind.
The sand here (and on the Gold Coast) is so fine it squeaks when you walk on it! Rather like the way cornstarch squeaks when you squeeze it. I tried videoing this phenomenon but, since it is always windy on the beach, all I really got was air-growling-across-the-mike sound. You’ll just have to trust me. The sand squeaks! Gives another meaning to the “singing sands.”
On one of my beach walks I came across a long section of the beach where a sloping dune separated a sickle-shaped body of water from the main ocean, thus forming a perfect kiddy pool. Warmed by the sun and replenished by each high tide, it was a good 300 metres long, max 5 metres across and never more than calf deep. On one side the sand was dry, perfect for parents picking up some rays. On the other side, the sand was constantly damp so the kiddies had a steady supply of building material for wobbly sand castles. I stood and marvelled at this natural playground. In Byron Bay, even Mother Nature is chill!
Back in town, it was not quite so chill. There were people and cars everywhere. We found out later there was a festival planned for the weekend and things were already starting to heat up. I found it difficult to find my way around. No wonder the masseuse didn’t know the physical address, in Byron Bay they don’t seem to believe in street signs. Oh, they have signs! But they all point to important things like massage parlours, surf lessons, and Twisted Sista. I never really got lost, but it took me ages to rediscover that one gelato shop that had dark chocolate sorbet.
You won’t go hungry in Byron Bay, especially if what you have is a taste for pizza or various styles of Asian. I was hoping for seafood but that only seemed to come in the fish and chips variety. Eventually I decided St. Elmo’s was the best bet as it was more upscale and was only a block past Jim’s massage parlour so I could point it out on the way. In other words, go past Twisted Sista and turn right.
Byron Bay is situated at mainland Australia’s most easterly point where a high headland guards the long slow curve of the beach lined bay. Atop this headland is a solid white lighthouse built in 1901. The installation of these then remote lighthouses sprinkled along Australia’s rugged coast made a huge difference to shipping and ushered Australia into the world market.
Yes, I enjoyed Byron Bay with its surfers’ resort busyness and party attitude. Where else can you get “Tree Huggers” or “Peace of Mind” vegetarian burgers or relax with more than a dozen masseuses or spas? Even the kiddies’ playground had a mini surfboard on springs so the mini dudes and dudettes could hone their skills. In Byron Bay, everyone is a surfer or a surfer in training.