Learning to surf is just part of it – Byron Bay has a bucket list a mile long. Journalist, author, food activist and adopted Byron local Sarah Wilson shares her local favourites
Best secret beach?
It would probably be Cosy Corner [at the lighthouse end of Tallows Beach]. The locals go there when it’s a windy day because it’s the most protected spot you can find. Or for a swim, go to the Tea Tree Lakes – locals will give you directions if you ask around.
Best dinner spot?
I really like the Rails Pub for some complete local action. Bands play there every single night and the food they produce in that tiny kitchen is some of the best you’ll ever eat – especially the Bangalow pork. Or try Targa in the main part of town. Tourists go to The Italian but Targa is more consistent, in my opinion.
Locals go to One One One – it’s a classic place that’s been there forever. Or try The Roadhouse – I’ve not come across anything quite like it in [hometown] Sydney. It makes the best coffee in town, they’ve got a veggie garden and an open fire in winter where they make slow cooked dishes. They’ve got one of the biggest whiskey collections I’ve ever seen.
Favourite bbq spot?
The barbecue area at The Pass carpark is really lovely – there’s a protected grassy area just back from the beach amongst the rainforest, the barbecues are always really clean. I love buying some fish, chucking it on the barbie and making fish tacos to eat with salad here.
The spa at The Byron at Byron is really good. I also like a little day spa at [nearby town] Mullumbimby called Mullum Sari (mullumsari.com) – it has an infrared sauna in a really beautiful Buddhist garden, and there’s a little café down the road called Poinciana (poincianacafe.com), where you can have a tea in the tranquil garden.
In the middle of town is the Atlantic (atlanticbyronbay.com.au) – it’s reasonably priced and you can self cater, so it’s really good for groups of friends. It’s very ‘Byron’, with breeze running through the middle of it. I’d also recommend the The Byron at Byron (thebyronatbyron.com.au) for something a little bit more upmarket – you’ve got little tree houses in the forest. Once again it’s self catering if you like but the restaurant is worth going to for a meal and a cocktail by the pool, even if you’re not staying there. Also the chef who runs the kitchen does tours on a Thursday, where you can go to the farmers’ markets with him and then he’ll cook what you’ve chosen at the markets that night.
Best day trip?
Newrybar is a great outing – it’s a tiny little town with a bric-a-brac shop. The Harvest Café (harvestcafe.com.au) there is run by a young couple in their 30s; they’re really passionate about what they do. Ask about their themed nights – lots of fun.
Most ‘Byron’ experience?
Go for a surf and then get a breakfast burger at Top Shop (65 Carlyle Street, 02 6685 6495). It’s an old Byron homestead, set back in the suburban area of town. It’s kind of a local hangout – it gets the morning sun on the lawn, and their burgers… wow. They make their own bread and patties with organic local meat… it’s a classic Aussie burger, made with a Byron edge.