OUR TRAVELS ~ BYRON BAY IN WINTER
Byron Bay’s iconic beaches have put the Northern New South Wales town on the map but its still an idyllic location for a family weekend or holiday when the mercury drops. There are a host of family-friendly things to do in the Bay aside from the beach. Here are our suggestions.
Whale watching season has begun and there’s no better place to spot these humpbacks than from the Cape Byron Lighthouse, Australia’s most easterly point. Park the car in The Pass car park and enjoy a walk or if the kids are not up to it – hello, stairs! - drive to the iconic landmark and park for $8 per car. Grab a coffee at the lighthouse café, and watch these magnificent creatures make their journey past Cape Byron headland to their breeding ground in Far North Queensland. On a clear day, you can also spot sharks, sea turtles and dolphins, which is always exciting for the kids.
Where: Cape Byron Lighthouse.
Byron Bay Train
Byron now has the world’s first solar-powered train, which runs between North Beach Station, near the new Habitat Commercial Precinct, and Byron Beach. Park up on Bayshore Drive and travel the scenic 3kms to town in style aboard the restored vintage train, which has space for luggage, bikes and surfboards. The net carbon positive train service runs daily from 10am and 5.15pm and a ride costs just $3 for adults and $2 for kids from six to 13 – our little ones were free. The kids loved sitting in the old carriage and handing the ticket inspector their little cardboard ticket to clip. Afterwards, check out Habitat Woman, a curated selection of women's and childrens clothing, swim and accessory brands.
Where: 54 Bayshore Drive [North Beach Station] and 1B Butler Street [Byron Beach Station].
The region is such a food bowl and there are some cafes and restaurants sprinkled throughout the lesser-known towns, which are luring visitors off the beach and out to the hinterland in droves.
Our all-time family favourite is DOMA Café in the tiny village of Federal, in the lush Byron hinterland. Serving up fresh Japanese “country-style food” in a pretty garden setting, Doma is the perfect place to enjoy a relaxing lunch while the kids run, climb trees and chase the resident chickens. The sushi, miso, salads and Japanese dishes are so delicious or for something heartier, their haloumi burger never disappoints. We often grab some beers or vino from the little general store as Doma is BYO. In summer, we love to cool off in the nearby swimming hole, which has a rope swing and cascading rock pools.
Where: 3-6 Albert Street, Federal.
Agritourism venture, The Farm Byron Bay, is still a favourite with the kids.
Spread over 80 acres, The Farm’s beautiful grounds, kids’ playground, sunflower fields, heritage-breed pigs and chooks, coffee and paddock-to-plate style food means it is a winner for the whole tribe. Plus anywhere the kids can run around outside without offending anyone while we enjoy a coffee and a chat has our vote.
Where: 11 Ewingsdale Road, Ewingsdale.
Crystal Castle is a really nice day trip to experience with the kids (or on your own). Wander the Shambhala Gardens, take in the beauty of the natural surroundings and the kids will love checking out the largest amethyst cave in the world. There are also workshops and experiences to enjoy, if you are so inclined.
Where: 81 Monet Drive, Mullumbimby
We’ve been going to Byron for a lot of our lives and have stayed in a variety of accommodation. It’s hard to beat Reflections at Clarkes Beach for its killer location – that section of beach between Clarkes and The Pass is one of our favourite spots in the entire world - however we recently enjoyed a weekend at Elements of Byron. Although we don’t usually opt for resort-style holidays, this low-rise, sustainable resort is a haven for families with its beachfront setting and lagoon swimming pool, which is heated to 28 degrees in winter. The all-natural Parkour-inspired playground surrounded by bushland entertained the boys – OK, and us! - for hours plus there’s a horse riding ranch, and walking tracks so you can explore the property’s expansive littoral rainforest. Elements’ two-bedroom villas – complete with a freestanding bath and heating - are perfect for families and provide a luxurious place to rest and relax after a day of adventure.
Where: 144 Bayshore Drive, Byron Bay.
* All of our opinions are our own. *