Introducing Byron Bay

New South Wales doesn’t want for beaches. In fact, go a short distance north and south from Byron Bay and you’ll find untrodden sands stretching beyond your vision. Byron’s beaches are nice as well, but what makes them special is Byron itself: one of Australia’s best beach towns. Low-rise, funky, walkable, relaxed are all good descriptions. It is everything that the overhyped, overdeveloped towns across the border in Queensland are not.

Of course Byron does get crowded, which is in direct conflict with its mellow charms. Jonson St can seize up like the arteries of a pie addict and the bars can get jammed. Developers would cheerfully turn Byron into a Surfers Paradise given the chance. But locals are dedicated to preserving the essential small-town soul even as everyone wants a piece. The left-wing council is constantly under assault from business interests, and property prices are sending residents packing.

The thing to remember about Byron is that under all the glitz it is still at heart a small town. The whole place is set up for the several thousand who live there year-round. So if the roads were widened and new shopping centres built, the charm would be gone.

Byron was a quiet, unassuming little village until 1963. That year surfers discovered ‘The Pass’ and over the following years the town became a cauldron of artistically minded people. Surfers adore the seven different beachfronts that surround the point, knowing that at least one will always have a break.

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