Heading south there’s a sense of freedom when you pass through the curvy tunnels and lush mountain ranges with Byron on your mind. Byron Bay, the most easterly point of Australia with that one road in, is a bustling coastal town. We opt for the quieter fringe, our mission to uncover the hidden gems in and around the Byron Hinterland. From the industrial estate (turn left at that illustrious sculpture) to the retro vibes of Mullumbimby to the national parks and beyond.
BYRONS THRIVING INDUSTRIAL ESTATE
9am– we wander around Centennial Circuit in search of some local designer wares, we’re in luck- Cabarita homewares store ‘Salt & Wood’ has taken up residence in the back streets of Byron. An eclectic mix of pottery, linen, cushions, furniture and local label Love St adorns the windows. Across the street we find the exclusive shoe designer St Agni best known for their neutral tones and natural leather weaved shoes- bonus.
11am– we stumble upon more local designers showcased in the super hip and modern ‘Habitat’ precinct. From the renowned Kingscliff sisters ‘The Beach People’ with their retro round towel to Currumbin’s ‘Prae’ store offering an array of sustainable beauty and wellness products. There’s something for the little people, ‘Children of the Tribe’ with seriously funky threads-we just wish they did our size.
12 noon– we can smell lunch wafting across the garden square of Habitat and our senses lead us straight to ‘Barrio’ a chargrilled, Argentinian inspired eatery with fresh and local wholefood on the menu. We can’t go past the array of colourful salads that greet us on arrival, accompanied by a chargrilled chicken and peri peri sauce. But wait there’s more, homemade corn and beef empanadas make their way to our table complimented by a local Jilly Rose. Barrio has a slick, open plan design and plenty of welcoming vibes.
2pm– Last stop in the thriving Byron Industrial estate is ‘Stone & Woods’ new tasting room- the locally brewed craft beer needs no introduction but the new tasting room and eatery is next level. Open plan in design with vibrant street art splashed on concrete walls, amongst a plethora of industrial beer vats and a beer inspired sustainable menu by local foodies 100-mile table.
QUINTESSENTIAL MULLUMBIMBY TOWN
3pm- we head 15 minutes north of Byron to Mullumbimby (Mullum) to chill out after all that shopping, eating and beer tasting. The renowned Kiva Spa is located down a narrow laneway in a secret garden reminisce of a Bali day spa. Kiva is a tranquil bathhouse where you literally go from a therapeutic spa to a sweat lodge to a ginseng plunge pool and repeat. There is an array of wellness treatments on offer mixed with local botanicals; this place has serious Namaste-we opt to stay awhile.
4.30pm– we peel ourselves off the spa lounges at Kiva and catch the eclectic vintage shop ‘Silver Lining’ before it closes. In search of cowboy boots and whimsical dresses (It’s Splendour in the Grass weekend) there’s no time to waste so we don a treasured 50’s hat and head to the mountains for sunset.
5pm– Blackbird Hotel, a fusion of Mexico meets Palm Springs meets Byron Bay. Blackbird puts the uber in chic and is a clever mix of contemporary meets industrial, with stunning views across the valley to Byron Bay. Greeted by host and owner James with French bubbles, local cheeses and an open fire that is perfectly positioned by the magnesium pool and array of cacti. The rooms (tastefully decorated by James wife Stella) are complimented by Moroccan tiles, soft furnishings and spacious bathrooms. But it’s the little touches that give this hotel its edge, like homemade pizzas, Spanish red wine and local chocolates to accompany your stay. To say we rate Blackbird is an understatement, it’s a double thumb up and is the ideal honeymoon or couples getaway.
8am– Early risers we enjoy the most picturesque sunrise over the valley, alas its time to check out of our home away from home and head 15 minutes downtown to Mullum to the new kid on the block Flock (formerly Poinciana Cafe). A garden piazza with funky outdoor furnishings and an open fire is the perfect way to enjoy breakfast. There’s an array of freshly baked goodies on display, we fall for the berry donuts, cold press juices and coffee made just the way we like it. Staff are super friendly, the food is delicious and there’s country music playing in the background to boot!
Feeling fresh, fuelled up and totally invigorated, we wave goodbye to the Byron Hinterland and head north to the Tweed Coast- life is good!