Our Legendary Journey: Brilliant Byron Bay
The next stop on our Legendary Pacific Coast adventure with YHA Australia is the beautiful Byron Bay. Known for its cruisy coastal vibes and pristine beaches, we were more than happy to call this place home for two nights. Byron has one of the highest numbers of artists and artisian residents in Australia.
Cape Byron is Australia’s most easterly point. There is a stunning coastal walk up to the Cape Byron Lighthouse, which we highly recommend. If you attempt to drive up, there are rangers waiting to collect up to $8 per vehicle visiting.
Just 150m to the transit centre and local shops, and just 200m to the beach, the Byron Bay YHA is very conveniently located.
(Captured on GoPro)
There’s a lovely heated in-ground pool with bean bags, hammocks and deck chairs in the surrounding courtyard. The communal area is so neat and tidy, and is a very welcoming place to sit down and use the free wifi or meet fellow travellers.
Our private room had a balcony which was a nice place to relax in the afternoon. The bed was comfy and it was nice to sleep with the windows open – something that we rarely get to do back home in Queenstown.
The staff at Byron Bay YHA were super friendly and helpful. At reception, there are surfboards and bikes available for hire at very reasonable prices, ideal for spending the day at the beach just down the road.
Just off the highway, on your way to Byron Bay, you’ll come across a superb operation known as ‘The Farm’. Neatly setup in a rustic-style setting, you are welcomed to a foodie’s haven with a café, restaurant, organic grocer, bakery and florist. These businesses are individually operated, yet they work together, sourcing ingredients from the farm and all aligning to the motto of ‘Grow, Feed, Educate, Entertain’.
We started the day with a coffee and scrumptious breakfast at café run by the Three Blue Ducks and then met the Operations Manager Johno, for a tour around the farm. Our farm tour kicked off with a short walk over to the pig enclosures where it was clear the pigs were living spaciously in a grassy paddock with great quality feed and plenty mud to keep cool in.
We then continued onto the chicken field - a space that went well beyond the concept of ‘free range’. Within the field sat an ingenious chicken caravan where the chickens retreated to at sundown.
Following on from the chickens we past rows of macadamia and pecan trees, a space the farm has created allowing locals to come and gather nuts without charge.
Johno then led us to a massive field with undulating hills that rolled into the distance where their cows were feeding. This stop turned out to be a surprise as Johno called out to them - and true to expectation the entire herd came eagerly tramping down the field in response to his call, like something you'd expect only to see when you call a dog back to meet his master.
We hung out with the cows and really had one of the most engaging moments we've ever had with these incredibly smart animals.
Along the final stretch of the 80 acre property we stopped beside an emerging community garden that was carefully being developed - something we can only imagine will be a great treasure in years to come when more locals have embraced this fantastic opportunity.
An objective with this garden, unlike many others, is to set up locals with an area they can manage and guide them to becoming a genuine vegetable grower and supplier that the restaurant will source part of its produce from, making this part of the farm a truly integrated element where locals can engage and participate as they grow together in a symbiotic partnership.
Having only recently passed the 12 month mark it was quite incredible to see how well established the farm was - from its bustling restaurant to its various paddocks its local animals were roaming.
Of all we experienced at the farm, one of the lasting impressions we walked away with was the authentic approach taken to integrate all elements that deliver a truly paddock-to-plate result where only what is needed is taken.
We arrived in the hills of Montecollum and with gentle rain pitter-pattering on the surrounding rainforest, we picked up a rainbow umbrella from the check in counter and started to make our way through the gardens. With crystals and statues sprinkled throughout the lush gardens, we immediately felt a wash of calm run over us as we approached the hub of the property.
First up was the crystal shop – a place where I was completely in my element. They have a huge variety of stones and jewels available for purchase – and I can’t say it didn’t cross my mind on how I could get some of the huge amethyst pieces back to NZ!
There are a number of different experiences on offer throughout the day including guided garden tours, meditation and tarot sessions and a daily peace experience.
We had our first aura reading and interpretation at the Crystal Castle, something that we had been wanting to do for a while and we found it incredibly interesting. The aura photo was spot on for both Derek and I, and we’re really interested to see how different it would be in a years’ time.
Spread across 5 hectares, the botanical gardens and rainforest are filled with extraordinary crystals, deities and sculptures – including the largest stone Blessing Buddha in Australia. Our favourite themed garden was the Bamboo Forest.
On the top end of the property you’ll find the Sacred World Peace Stupa monument – that has the blessing of the Dalai Lama, and right behind is a reflexology walk.
The Crystal Castle and Shambhala Gardens is the perfect place to relax and unwind – especially after an action-packed journey along The Legendary Pacific Coast. You’ll leave feeling refreshed, with an incredibly positive energy.
Located just off the Pacific Highway, as you head north toward Byron Bay, you’ll discover the Macadamia Castle. The castle itself is free to enter, and there is a lovely gift shop, macadamia tasting and café for you to stop and revive after a long trip on the highway.
Famous for its pancake stacks, we highly recommend giving the banana and honey pancakes a go – they come with creamy macadamia ice cream too! The other impressive option is the Vegetarian Breakfast – we loved both!
After breakfast, we headed into the animal and adventure park to meet a baby crocodile, snake and lizard. The crocodile was the only one we were brave enough to hold.
There was also the Farm Yard Baby Animal feeding and rabbit petting. We felt like big kids, but we thoroughly enjoyed the personal encounter with the animals.
Further down the park is the emu and kangaroo exhibit. It’s a walk-through area where the animals can come and go as they please. We saw a wallaby that had a joey in its pouch, which gave us a freaky surprise when we saw two clawed feet pop out all of a sudden!
We also had a round of putt-putt and then payed one last visit to the farm animals before leaving. The animals were all worn out after a day of feeding and meeting little kids, so we got to be with them as they were more relaxed and friendly. We formed a special bond with one goat in particular, as he came to sit on the log next to us, and proceeded to rest his head on our shoulders and laps. It was such a magical experience and topped off our visit to the Macadamia Castle.
Just a 20 minute drive from Coolangatta, is the coastal town of Kingscliff. Lined with golden sand beaches and coastal rainforests, it is a mecca for those wanting a chilled out escape from the chaos of the cities. Famous for its world-class surf breaks, fishing, coastal walks and vibrant cafes and restaurants, it is becoming known as a foodie’s mecca.
We stopped by the Kingscliff Beach Hotel, or as the locals know it, “The Kingy”, located directly opposite the Kingscliff Beach. The original venue was built in 1903, and over 110 years on, it is now a bustling hub and favourite for both locals and visitors. Recently renovated, the Kingscliff Beach Hotel has been stylishly fit out with modern décor, yet still gives off a wonderfully historic vibe and coastal charm.
The menu offers plenty of choice too – from seafood, wood fired pizzas, salads through to traditional pub fare. We decided to go with the Wagyu Brisket and the Salmon Fillet, topped off with the decadent Sticky Date Pudding.
There are both outdoor and indoor seating arrangements, and on certain days they have live music playing in the courtyard. A venue with a great atmosphere, we thoroughly enjoyed our meal and stay at the Kingscliff Beach Hotel.
Looking out over the gardens and neighbouring hinterland, the café has a stunning balcony setting. The food is freshly prepared on the premises, sourced from local providers and is famous for its signature garnish of edible flowers and fresh herbs from the Shambhala Gardens.
There are a number of little touches that add even more value to the café – from fully compostable crockery and cutlery to offering gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan dishes.
We feasted on the Indian Plate and Thai Red Summer Curry – both were absolutely mouthwatering! Such fresh and flavorsome meals, which complimented the stunning views from the alfresco dining setting.
The perfect place to relax and enjoy a meal - we rate the coffees highly too!
The Farm at Byron Bay is a local food hub – made up of a community who share a passion for growing food using traditional, sustainable methods that are 100% spray and chemical free.
We enjoyed breakfast at the paddock-to-plate café, Three Blue Ducks. It was clear how fresh the produce was – the eggs were light, fluffy and golden, bread was crusty on the outside and soft on the inside, and fresh herbs sprinkled over the plate complimented the meal perfectly.
Three Blue Ducks pride themselves on sourcing as much food as possible from The Farm, and then from local producers from Southern Queensland down to Port Macquarie.
Famous for nutritious ‘real food’, we can totally see why this place receives from 5000 – 7000 visitors each week. Whether you stop by for a coffee, a meal or to enjoy the rural setting, this is one place that you’ll want to return to.
We spent a lot of time on the beach in Byron, from watching the sunrise in the morning, to walking along it in the evening. The town is constantly buzzing, and there are plenty of cafes and bars for you to spend your evenings.