Before I came to the east coast, my buddies in Perth would advise me to go to Noosa or Byron Bay, or both. But for them, it was a sure thing, I was going to love Byron Bay and Noosa!
Finally, I spent two months in Noosa, and only Byron Bay remained for me to discover.
I left Noosa to reach Brisbane and start my road trip. But before that, I gave myself a long weekend of 3 days and two nights with my hostel girlfriends!
It’s time to compare these two little East Coast towns!
Byron Bay, a little background
Byron Bay is located in New South Wales 772 kilometers north from Sydney, but only 165 kilometers south from Brisbane.
It’s a place known for its Hippie vibes, rather relaxed atmosphere and cute downtown.
Surfing is king here, so don’t be surprised if you come across some very nice specimens… And it is a city that attracts stars for a few years, Chris Hemsworth spends many months there with his family, or Zach Effron met his new love there… Too bad, it wasn’t me!!!
So, as you can imagine, I had pretty high expectations about Byron Bay. Add to that my roommate Mereia, who has been excited for weeks to show us her Byron Bay, I was expecting an amazing city… I was a little disappointed.
The city: finally a downtown feel
I don’t know what I expected, but initially I was a little disappointed. Again, I was expecting old stones, where in Australia, that’s hard to find…
So yeah, at first I thought… Yep, it’s stores and cafes, just like every city in Australia. But after several hours of walking around there, I liked it more and more.
The downtown area is super concentrated, but it’s definitely there, alive. Coffee shops alternate with new and used clothing stores. It reminds me a bit of Fremantle in some ways, and that’s pretty neat.
Bref, it’s a great little town to walk around, stroll around, window shop…
The National Park, short walk to the Lighthouse
I really enjoyed this semi-walk to the Byron Bay Lighthouse. In fact, I did it twice, once alone, and once with my little group of girls.
The walk is less wild and natural than Noosa National Park. When in Noosa, I crunched my shoes on the dirt and rock paths, here the concrete guides you all the way.
The path follows the coastline and my gaze is lost on the horizon, on the back of this ocean that looks like it will never end. The last few meters, the steps go on and on, and the thighs burn a little, to finally reach the lighthouse.
The view here is simply magnificent, a real treat. The mountainous reliefs loom on the horizon, and the sky plays with all its shades of blue to delight the pupils of the brave.
Mereia had sold us on a great nightlife. But unfortunately, my first night, I was nailed to the bed by a horrible stomachache. Goodbye dreams of snagging beautiful surfer boy while singing well-known hits…
On the second night, the hostel is deserted, and we create our own little atmosphere. When we reach the bar of the Beach Hotel, the house music is deafening, the alcohol in my veins is too low for me to appreciate this kind of music. Most of the dancers seem to be under the influence of one or more drugs. I who was having so much fun a few minutes earlier, I’m starting to get bored, I don’t feel in the mood anymore.
Bref, it will be hard for me to judge the nightlife. The bars close as they do in Noosa, fairly early. And the hope of an evening around a fire on the beach is a pipe dream for the weekend at hand. Another time, in another life.
Hippie atmosphere… Yes…. But
I had the bitter impression that the hippie atmosphere was a bit shallow and manufactured at times. Yes, I think it was originally a city of surfers, travelers, open-minded people and probably a little bit high. But today, I’m not sure that’s still the case.
I liked the singers at sunset, improvising a few notes, while the light gradually disappeared. The performances weren’t always outstanding, but I liked the shared atmosphere. Everyone sitting on the grass, a beer or a joint in hand, friends, young, old or families. So yes, that atmosphere, I liked it.
But the super hippie trend, dread locks, bare feet and drugs, I’m not a big fan. If the city is both a den of Bobos, vegans, it’s also a den of stoners who don’t seem to know about shampoo…
Oh and then… Bare feet… I’m totally for it on sand or grass, I admire it in gravel, brambles or rocks. But on concrete or in the aisles of a supermarket, I find it simply disgusting… Sorry for the bare feet lovers.
Byron Bay, mostly a great weekend with girlfriends
While my feelings about Byron Bay are a bit mixed, I still had a great weekend.
With my four hostel mates, Mereia, Sam, Beth, and Bayley, we left in the wee hours of Friday morning (despite a big hangover for some!), and made the most of the three days and two nights. The sun wasn’t always out, but the laughter was…
So thank you girlfriends, thank you for the laughter, thank you for the Twerk class in the dorm, thank you for this goodbye in a town as legendary as Byron Bay.