Byron Bay Australia’s most easterly town, famous for its beaches, rainforests and a vibrant community wasn’t originally on our ‘to do’ list but as luck would have it we recently made it our home for two weeks, our longest continuous stay in one place since we started our wayfaring life.
There’s a certain charm to Byron Bay. From it’s extreme natural beauty to the relaxed ‘vibe’ where everyone seems to be in a good mood. It was easy to see why so many people visit every year.
We feel very blessed to have had the time we did in Byron and its surrounds. Please read on to see our stats, our expenses, what we did and saw.
Our stats for Byron Bay and surrounding areas
Duration: 15 days
Distance travelled: 780 kilometres
Average spend per kilometre: $0.85/km
BUDGET AND EXPENSES
It was fortuitous find on Facebook that lead to us accepting an offer of a farm stay in the Byron Bay Hinterland in exchange for some gardening work. We were extremely grateful for the opportunity as there is simply no other way we could have afforded to stay in Byron for the length of time we did. So even though Byron Bay and the surrounding areas are tourism hot spots, a combination of the farm stay, some savings on fuel and lots of free things to do we were still able to keep to under budget spending only $315 each week of our stay.
Our Expenses for our Byron Bay stay:
Groceries: $287.18 total = $19.15 per day or $134.02 per week
Fuel: $227.61 total = $15.17 per day or $106.22 per week
Mobiles (Internet): $69.50 total = $4.63 per day or $32.43 per week
Alcohol/Entertainment/Eating Out: $26 total
Gas: $23.90 total (no gas was used due to food being stored and cooked in the accommodation provided)
Campground Fees: $15 total plus 12 hours per person per week of gardening work
Op Shops: $13 total
Car & Caravan Maintenance: $7 total
Odds & Sods: $0 total
Laundry: $0 total (washing machine provided)
Total = $673.39 = $44.89 per day or $314.25 per week
WHERE WE STAYED
The Old Teven School, Teven
Cost: $15 per night per vehicle
Nice flat grass campground. No amenities. Good budget option for exploring Ballina and Byron Bay. We were able to stay with our portable chemical toilet and pop up ensuite tent. Thanks!
Farm Stay, Byron Bay Hinterland
Cost: 12 hours yard work per person per week stay
This was a one bedroom self contained granny flat type accommodation situated on a 50 acre farm.
The farm has two types of accommodation available for a nightly rate for those interested. The Byron Hinterland Getaway which is the accommodation we stayed in is suitable for two people with everything needed for two people. The Dairy@Byron is an entire home converted from a dairy with 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms suitable for large families or bigger groups. Your hosts Shauna and Michelle are wonderful and very accommodating.
WHAT WE DID
From our farm stay we saw the the sights of Byron Bay and ventured out to the townships of Ballina, Bangalow, Brunswick Heads, Fingal Head, Hasting Point, Lennox Head, Lismore, Nimbin and Whian Whian State Conservation Reserve and its surroundings.
Belongil Beach attracted us for its white sand and dog friendliness. We discovered that the sunsets were breathtaking. Some sections are not dog friendly and there is an area where clothing is optional so be sure to read and obey signs.
Belongil Creek, Bryon Bay which passes by Cumbebin Swamp is one place we kayaked seeing mangroves and a few fleeting glimpses of kingfishers. (Just a note, the north end of the creek is a marine sanctuary and dogs are prohibited.)
The Cape Byron Walking Track is a 4km loop located in the Cape Byron State Conservation Area, winding through rainforest, past beaches, to lookouts and to the Cape Byron Lighthouse. The track has many highlights and is a must do in Byron including:
- The Pass (Beach) & Fisherman’s Lookout
- Little Wategos Beach
- The Most Easterly Point of Mainland Australia
- Cape Byron Lookout
- Cape Byron Lighthouse
Note that much of the parking is metered and very limited at the various stops along the track. We recommend using the four hour free parking at Massinger Street, walk the 500m to the start of the track and from there walk the track.
The Farm is a small working farm open to visitors for free and is dog friendly on a lead. The absolute highlight for me was seeing the Hairy Coos (Scotland Highland Cattle) and collecting macadamias.
There is an easy 1km track that meanders pass the various farm animals, vegetable crops, an apiary and orchards. There is also a restaurant, café as well as garden and produce stores. It was a wonderful way to spend a couple of hours.
Overlooking Main Beach, Byron Bay the Foreshore was great place, with buskers playing in the afternoons, just to sit and chill, as the photo of Chika below shows.
Killeen Falls Public Reserve & Emigrant Creek Dam
How often can you actually get in behind a waterfall? At Killeen Falls you can! And it is dog friendly. The track was rather slippery and steep but with some care and holding to branches we managed it and it was well worth the effort.
The Emigrant Creek Dam is a very short walk along a sealed path. We did it because it was at the same place as the waterfall. Honestly, I wasn’t overly fussed with the dam.
Tallow Beach is another dog friendly beach just a few kilometres from the centre of Byron Bay. The south end of the beach is Arakwal National Park which is not dog friendly so be careful to look out for the signs. We loved this beach, it is wide, the sand is soft and white and it is one of the most picturesque beaches you can share with your dog.
Ballina is a little under 40km south of Byron Bay. There we saw/did:
- Big Prawn: We saw. It was a prawn. It was big.
- Lighthouse Lookout Point: No lighthouse but we witnessed migrating whales breaching while we ate our lunch.
- The Break Wall: Here you are pretty much guaranteed to see dolphins and we did.
- Thursday Plantation: A tea tree plantation, also has forest, sculptures and a maze to enjoy for free. Dogs are permitted on a lead. It was rather interesting and fun, no where else have we walked through a door in a forest. There is also a shop and café.
The Breakwall, Ballina NSW
Bangalow is a small ritzy village, 15km inland from Byron surrounded by lush rainforest. Mostly there is cafes and speciality shops.
Bexhill is a small town on the road between Byron Bay and Lismore. There we stopped at the Open Air Cathedral.
Open Air Cathedral, Bexhill NSW
Brunswick Heads lies 18km north of Byron Bay. We found Brunswick to have an old fishing village character about it, where older shop buildings are well maintained rather than new being erected.
In Brunswick Heads we:
- We visited the town centre.
- Spent some time on the dog friendly section of Brunswick (Beach) (20 m south of the Brunswick Heads surf club).
- The highlight was definitely kayaking the Brunswick River and Midjimbil Creek. This picturesque kayak had us seeing mangroves, stingrays and various fish as well as kingfishers and other birds. Love it and highly recommend it to anyone with kayak.
Fingal Head is 63km north of Byron and only 5km from the New South Wales / Queensland border, located on Letitia Spit which is about 2km long. There we saw:
- The smallest lighthouse ever
- The Giant Causeway, a rock formation of basalt columns. This is a pretty awesome natural phenomenon.
Hasting Point and Cabarita Beach are located nearly 50km north of Byron Bay. There we did:
- Hasting Point: Overlooking the ocean we stopped here and ate lunch in our car while looking out for whales. It was super windy the day we were there.
- Cabarita Beach: A nice dog friendly beach where Chika, as always, enjoyed a run leash free with few other dogs to be concerned about.
- Bush Tucker Trail, Coast Banksia Woodland: An easy trail to walk with signage about different plants and trees used by local indigenous people for food and medicines. The trail is dog friendly.
- Norrie’s Headland Broadwalk: Loved this board walk up to the lookout where we saw whales as close to land as we have since being on this journey. Could have sat at the lookout for hours. Dogs are not permitted unfortunately.
Lennox Heads is a seaside town 22km south of Byron. There we visited:
- Lake Ainsworth: This is one of the “tea tree lakes” so called because tea tree oil from surrounding plantations have over years seeped into the lake’s water. It is said to have healing powers. I wouldn’t know as it was too cold to get more than a toe in.
- Lennox Beach: A nice, dog friendly beach. Pity it was a rainy miserable day when we visited.
- Pat Morton Lookout: I had hoped the lookout and walking track along the sea cliffs would be a good vantage point to see whales but sadly we did not.
Lismore is nearly 50km inland from Byron Bay and is a major regional centre. There is much to see and do in Lismore however during our visit we did the following:
- Lantern Festival and Parade: A celebration of the winter solstice, the festival highlight is the lantern parade. The lanterns were amazing with much artistry on display. There was also fireworks and entertainment which we also enjoyed.
- Friends of the Koalas: A rehabilitation centre for sick and injured koalas, open to visitors and has tours for $5 per person (an absolute bargain) Monday to Friday 10am and 2pm and Saturdays at 10am. Is a terrific place to visit and see koalas up close. I thoroughly enjoyed our visit to the centre. Seeing these unique creatures in their natural habitat would be the ultimate (one day) but as an alternative this was pretty damn good. After observing them for a while mostly eating and moving as little as possible I reckon it would be fair to say these are the “sloths” of the Australian bush.
- Street Art: The lane ways of Lismore town centre have many examples of street art to see.
Nimbin is one of Australia’s most iconic towns. It is located 65km+ by road from Byron Bay.
- Nimbin Rocks: Nimbin Rocks are the remains of what was once the rim of an ancient volcano. Viewing the rocks is from a road side pull over across farmland. It was a bit disappointing not to be able to get closer and explore the rocks.
- Village: We made our visit to the the small town for an afternoon and it was like stepping back in time and into an open air gallery. The artworks on the buildings and in the parks as well as the dated store fronts definitely gives it it’s unique appearance.
WHIAN WHIAN STATE CONSERVATION RESERVE & DUNOON
Situated in the highlands and mountains west of Byron Bay Whian Whian State Conservation Reserve is where we visited the Minyon Falls and Dunoon close to the reserve is where we visited Rocky Creek Dam and Whian Whian Falls. The drive, which is very scenic is about 70km each way from Byron Bay.
- Minyon Falls: Dogs are forbidden to enter the conservation reserve but we found that you can park at the park entrance and walk about 1km to the lookout over the falls. Be warned the heights of the falls can make those with a fear of heights like me very giddy! There is also a walk to the bottom of the falls but with Chika waiting in the car we chose not to do the walk.
- Rocky Creek Dam: The dam is dog friendly. There is a number of walks, picnic areas, BBQs, playground and toilets. We enjoyed the longest walk through the cedar forest and past the dam.
- Whian Whian Falls: Also isn’t dog friendly so we had Chika sleep in the car while we took the short walk to the falls.
That’s the highlights from our time in Byron Bay. We also enjoyed time relaxing on the farm just taking in the view and making the most of having time together.
Next for us is Queensland which is where we are now and plan to stay and explore for the next year.