Falling for Byron

by Julie Fison

As the old saying goes – If you want to walk fast, walk alone; if you want to walk far, go together. And if you want to eat well along the way, head for Byron Bay.

I’ve just arrived in the beautiful coastal town with a bunch of friends and I’m already feeling the Byron vibe at Bayleaf. The café in Marvell Street with its whitewashed walls, intricately decorated waiters, bearded baristas and dishes packed with kale, oozes hipster style. I’m told it also has Byron’s best coffee. But I’ve walked ten kilometres this morning so I choose an iced tea and a breakfast burrito. The breakfast greens are popular with my walking buddies.

After lunch it’s back to the beach to burn off our lunch. The sun is hanging in a perfect winter sky over Mount Warning, just offshore dolphins are chasing a school of fish, and I don’t think I ever want to leave.

I have to admit that Byron and I have been through a rough patch these past few years. Every time I’ve been to visit it’s poured, the wind has howled and I’ve been left wondering why I didn’t go to Noosa.

Now I’m on a three-day walk organised by Girls Trekking Adventures and I realise what I’ve been missing.

Our guides do a brilliant job of showing us the best of Byron – leading us on a trek along Tallow Beach, assembling an al fresco lunch at Broken Head, and nudging us through a pre-dawn walk to Byron’s iconic lighthouse to watch the first rays of sunlight peaking over the horizon. I may be a little bit grumpy about heading off in the darkness but the sunrise is totally worth the effort.

Our accommodation for the weekend is the lovely Byron Cove beach house. On our first night we stretch off our weary limbs in a yoga class, then slip into our onesies for a home-cooked meal. We’re celebrating a special milestone in our group, and I won’t give away details, but I will say the birthday girl is quintastic (yes, it’s actually a word).

On our second night we hit the town  for cocktails and tapas at St Elmo. The food is modern Spanish and delicious. My favourites are the Pato Confitado – crispy confit duck with jamon, shiitake and poached egg, and the lusciously refreshing Jalisco iced tea – a long cocktail with lychees and coriander.

For our final meal we head for the hinterland to Harvest Café in the tiny, foodie village of Newrybar. The restaurant is situated in a restored Federation house with wrap-around verandahs, a country chic feel and award winning food.

It’s the perfect place for a long lazy lunch and a beautiful way to end the weekend.