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A Byron Escape

Kym O'Gorman, Marketing & social media guru and self-confessed geek, wife and mother of two finds herself in Byron Bay. 

Byron Bay has been a fairly regular feature in my life for the last 25 years, and the idea of a Byron Bay escape is always warmly received.  It has provided the backdrop for so many life events – group holidays with treasured girlfriends; the babymoon before the birth of my daughter; my wedding on Watego’s beach and a two-day holiday with myself for my 40th birthday (an inspired present from my girlfriends).

Back in the early nineties it was magical in its naivete and simplicity. My earliest memories are of a gorgeous hippy town with three pubs, some take away joints, Earth & Sea pizza and a few shops selling tie-dyed skirts and incense-infused cheesecloth.

We would travel down from Brisbane – a group of seven girls holding onto the last vestiges of summer with a white-knuckled grip before heading back to uni.

Back in those days of limited responsibility, we would make the journey at least a few times a year.

Byron symbolised escape, relaxation, time spent with great people.  It was a one street town where shoes were optional, an open mind was beneficial and there were few distractions from the important job of being with friends.

These days, distractions abound but the simple, relaxed energy remains.  As we drove along Ewingsdale Road on our recent visit, I could feel myself shedding layers of stress and responsibility.


That’s what Byron does for me. Within a few minutes of driving into town I feel my shoulders lower about 3 inches, my heart rate slows and my brain eases its incessant chatter. In Byron I’m more relaxed, more present, more … me … than I feel anywhere else.

These days, however, Byron can be a study in contradiction. The spiritual smorgasboard is still open, with every type of alternative health therapy, meditation, massage and spiritual reading available.  But these days they sit sandwiched between funky fashion boutiques, chain stores, surf shops and art galleries.

The centre of town continues to spread further and further afield, so what was once a quick shopping stroll can now be a full day retail excursion.

The Byron restaurant, café and bar scene is also exploding.  So what Byron offers now is choice.  

For me, all the retail and entertainment options risked taking my attention from all the “nothing” I planned on doing.  In the end I think I got the balance about right.

Want a peek into my two-day Byron retreat?


Where we ate?

As soon as we hit town we headed straight for long-time favourite Byron Beach Café for a coffee.  As this was a combined work/leisure trip, I flipped open my laptop and got stuck into some creativity. Of course it helped that I could lift my eyes a few centimeters and take in a stretch of golden sand and stunning water, and the view out to Julian Rocks.

We stayed on for lunch, and while the food wasn’t the standout of our trip, the service was attentive and the location is second to none.  I would definitely recommend the Byron Beach Café for a mid-morning coffee while you’re staring out to sea.

Early evening we headed to the new Miss Margarita bar and restaurant for happy hour mojitos and some nibblies. We were early enough that young families were among the main customers (it’s definitely family friendly). The vibe was fantastic and the tunes.

Next on the agenda was Cicchetti (pictured above) – new on the Byron scene it offers authentic Italian cuisine, but in a tapas style. We chose the crumbed scallop and baby calamari for entrée and an indulgent pumpkin, rosemary and gorgonzola risotto. The service was outstanding and even on a quiet night (it was a State of Origin Wednesday) the atmosphere was appealing.


Where did we stay?

Atlantic Byron Bay was our home for the night. A collection of rooms and villas on the corner of Marvell St and Middleton St, Atlantic is the ultimate demonstration of how attention to detail makes a world of difference. Everywhere we looked we saw subtle styling touches – the basket-laden bike on the front landing, exceptional artwork in the shared kitchen and, of course, the silver Airstream caravan that’s available for hire.

It’s simple and unaffected, but the combination of beautifully styled rooms and manicured gardens make its charm appealing.


Shopping and Pampering

I squeezed in a bit of shopping and window gazing around town, and a divine deep tissue massage at Buddha Gardens Day Spa.  In a town with no shortage of massage options, Buddha Gardens sets itself apart with lush surrounds, an outdoor spa and sauna and serene Buddha statues at every turn.

Byron Bay has always – and will always – hold a very special place in my heart. While I can’t help but feel nostalgic for the simple, uncluttered, hippy yesterdays, I also appreciate the breadth of experiences the town has to offer today.  And one thing hasn’t changed … shoes are definitely still optional!

Image credit: Kym O'Gorman & Atlantic

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