I’ve managed to swindle a few extra days off here and there taking the odd Friday off for an extended weekend. Usually, my extra time involves sitting in bed checking the surf cams and ‘umming’ and ‘ahhing’ if I can be bothered to go.
My wife suggested we do something a little different and actually get away somewhere to make better use of our time. With the borders recently reopening it only deemed fit to take a little trip down to Byron.
Byron, the surf village of dreams. From Hemsworth to Wright, you’ll find them all nestled in this delicate little town.
I do appreciate a good road trip and it had been a while since I headed down to Byron, over 10 years in fact. We booked an Airbnb in the hinterland and headed south.
Surfboards equipped I imagined days of glass waves flickering through dramatic sunsets while I rode through the crowd and erupted victorious in finally finding the ‘perfect wave’, like something from a movie.
The weather in Queensland was hot, good start. The drive was a cool and casual ride with little to no traffic only making one pee stop in the 2 and ½ hour journey.
10 minutes out from Byron I noticed a dark haze within the horizon. As we drive closer to Byron it seemed as if the heavens had erupted its holy might. Rain upon rain upon rain. Make no mistake this wasn’t your average sprinkle; this was flood potential.
The chances of surfing were way off the cards from the get-go as the blustering winds turned anything rideable into pure mush. We drove around for a while trying to find a place to park. Not only is parking a nightmare but there seems to be no such thing as free in Byron, parking included.
We did what most couples do in these situations, park to the side and bicker to try and figure out what to do in a new town during shite weather.
“The lighthouse will have parking, we can check out the views from there!”
We headed up to the lighthouse as water continuously flooded any and all paths one could walk to see such a view. As we reached the top, a man waved us down and I put down the window.
“$8 to park”
I am not cheap by any means but to simply park next to the lighthouse is not worth $8.
“I’m just turning around”
His face was unphased as if I was literally the 50th person today to say this to him.
We called it quits and headed up to the cabin. A vintage-inspired shack with 3 rooms including a bathroom and a fireplace.
My kind of heaven.
As the heavens continued to poor it only seemed fitting to nestle myself in the cabin. Fire stoked I lounged around napping and watching mindless shite on Netflix.
The same thing I was doing back home just now at a hiked Byron Bay price.
Finally, the flooding stopped and the sun rose. We headed back into Byron. I headed down to Main Beach to inspect the surf, as expected it was firing!
With clean sets easily double overhead, I was in awe. The beaches literally flooded with locals all trying to gain that quick surf before the sun disappeared.
I was tempted no doubt to suit up and head in, only, I had literally just picked up an Indian takeaway for tonight's dinner. Did I feel like I was missing out? Absolutely. But food always wins in most situations and a popadom and chilli cheese naan bread trumped the chance to surf big waves.
So, while I ventured down to Byron just to watch Netflix in a cabin my conclusion is this; there's no such thing as free in Byron. The surf might still be amazing but the town itself has changed a lot. The hippy vibes are all gone and now it's doused in ‘too cool for school’ vibes enough to make any tourist feel out of place.
It’s a beautiful place to visit no doubt but one that will cost a pretty penny or two. For any surfer visiting Australia, it is the long border's holy grail. While there certainly is a level of arrogance amongst the air it's not as obvious as the Gold Coast. The locals are reluctant to talk or simply too cool to give a shit about your existence, perfect, cause I’m happy keeping me to me.
If I was to visit again, I certainly would choose my timings a little better. Headed down in winter for fewer crowds and less rain to fuck up a long weekend. Perhaps next time I’ll take out a loan to cover any and all car parking expenses.
Byron you money-grabbing whore!