I adore this time of year. Not just because of Christmas, though I love that too. But because summer is back. I love beach dresses and sunglasses, and the act of packing a bag with a towel, a $5 note for ice cream, and a bottle of sunscreen, and just wandering aimlessly down to the ocean for a leisurely dip. It’s refreshing, both physically and spiritually – after just an hour spent in the sea, I feel as if my cares and worries have been cleansed, and I emerge from the ocean sparkly clean and vibrantly new.
I have lived along the seaside my entire life, but since moving to a little sand island just north of Brisbane 16 years ago, I’ve fallen more in love with the beach and everything it embodies. The colours are fantastic – the bottle greens, the vibrant turquoise water that we are lucky enough to experience this far north of the city, the deep blues, and the creamy white sand. I also love the animals – the sea birds, of course, but the turtles and the dolphins. Everything seems at once playful and relaxed, which is just the way I like it. I feel as if I could spend every day by the water’s edge and never tire of it, though my skin might.
Last weekend, I took a Saturday off work and made the 3 hour journey south from Brisbane to Byron Bay. For those who’ve never been or never heard of it, it’s a famous beach side town in northern New South Wales held fondly in the hearts of surfers world over.
Having never been before, I still had an expectation of what I’d find when I got there. You assume it’ll be laid back, pretty, and full of people with relaxed views of the world and tough views on people who care nothing for the planet or the environment. I think I can safely say I was right.
The local community is a strong force in Byron. Everyone is concerned with the impact that tourists are having on the beautiful local beaches, the cleaniness and busyness of the town’s picturesque streets, and the unsavouryness of some of the people who holiday there. There have been arguments put forward about a bed tax, and then counter-arguments about the fact that the money never goes back into the local community and they see little to no benefit from it. It’s a quandary all areas high in tourist numbers face, and one we’re only going to hear more about in the future.
I think my favourite things about the area are the lighthouse and its extraordinary views, the adorable rock wallabies, the vegan restaurant called The Beet and it’s amazing menu, and the relaxed, surfy vibe that permeates the entire town. Who wouldn’t want to live there? And that’s 80% of Bryon’s problem.