Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Down By Byron Bay

About two hours south of our Brisbane home is a touristy little beach called Byron Bay located in the far northeastern corner of the Australian state of New South Wales. Fun fact: Byron Bay is the furthest east mainland point of Australia. This beautiful little spot was known by the aboriginals who lived here as Cavvanbah, meaning Meeting Place. It is now known as Byron Bay, named after John Byron, circumnavigator of the globe and grandfather of the poet Lord Byron. Somewhere I read that this bay was formed by an ancient volcanic explosion several millennium ago.

The kids and I drove down to Byron Bay one cloudy day this week. It was an absolutely gorgeous and warm day, but cloudy and threatening rain. The sea was being surfed by some seasoned surfers while I talked to a guy who was in his sixties and who told me that he has surfed this beach almost every day of his life since he was a three years old. Although Elizabeth smiled at this rugged looking fellow, other surfers had her eye, as did the cool shipwreck out in the bay. 

The Wreck
Visible about thirty meters off shore is the shipwreck of the Wollongbar. A local told me that this ship sank during a cyclone early in the 20th century and has been a tourist site ever since. My pic of the ship wreck shows you that this section of the beach is a favorite spot to surf in the middle of the day. Although I didn't get a great shot of the surfers, they were enjoying the curls rushing past this favorite surf spot on the beach. We saw about three dozen surfers in the area, surfing with tremendous skill on the two foot curls we were getting that day. The kids and I enjoyed the rush of this spot from our safe spot on the beach.

Two Sisters Rock
Whale hunting and shipping may have been the reason most European settlers came here but I'm pretty sure that surfing is the main game of the day nowadays. Two Sisters Rock is visible about a kilometer off shore. This iconic rock formation has a Dreamtime story with the aboriginals which tells of three sisters who were swimming together out in the sea. With this part of the ocean being a whale migration highway, I'm surprised that this rock formation doesn't have some sort of story about whales because it looks alot like some kind of whale tangle to me.

Much of the time we were at the beach and on the esplanade we kept finding ourselves wishing we could go back in time to the days of the Arakwal Peoples who lived in this area before European exploration so we could view this spot in its natural state. What a meeting place it must have been. 

Eastern Water Dragon
Lucky for us, the kids and I didn't have to imagine the natural state of this beach for long. We saw this little guy hanging out on the beach and knew that his ancestors have occupied this space for hundreds of years... Some long-haired, burnt out local tried to tell us that this guy is a frill dragon, but we knew better. We did a little research and discovered that he is an Eastern Water Dragon. You can't tell his size from this pic, but he was about three feet long, very still, and seemed to want to dig under a large rock right there near us. Probably looking for food.

Byron Bay has become a hot tourist spot for the long-haired hippies of today. It's mellow, Man. This coastline is beautiful. I have been here on a very sunny day and the colors are just astonishing. The town's laid back, alternative lifestyle means that New Age spirituality and prayer beads are ubiquitous on the little village area. I understand that ocean births, raves, and pagan gatherings are all fairly common at this beach. The business district has about a hundred cool shops and restaurants. Backpackers have two different inns to stay in. So expect to see tons of young ones here. But unlike the touristy surf beaches to the north, Surfers Paradise and Gold Coast most notably, this beach and vicinity has a lovely small town feel to it. 

Elizabeth really wants come back here one day on her own or with friends. She states that she plans to never smoke pot or drink alcohol. So I'm not at all sure what she will do in Byron Bay but I do hope she will come back!

The day we visited Byron Bay was just your average day in the middle of the week, yet the streets were teeming with young people on skateboards, bikes, feet, carrying surf boards, wearing sunnies, and generally hanging out. I felt absolutely ancient. I'm not sure if much gets done here during the day, but it was fairly obvious to me that a good deal of partying happens when the sun goes down. As for us, we enjoyed a little shopping in the eclectic downtown area and a nice cup of tea at a nice outside coffee shop.

There was more to do and to see at Byron Bay but we had miles and miles to drive before we got home and as we pulled onto the highway...the rain started.

If you enjoyed this post, click on:  Homeschooling and our Trip to Melbourne VIC
Or you may enjoy reading:  Our Aussie Treasures

Or try this one:  Homeschooling at Tangalooma Island Resort


  1. I've never been there but have been told by visitors that it's pretty much as you describe :) BTW thought you would like this: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/02/11/sir-david-attenborough-enough-with-the-creationists-and-climate-change-deniers.html

    1. I DO love that link!!!!!!! Thanks so much.

      I nearly went postal on my FB profile about this very issue, then decided to not.


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