Hippy Beach Town

Days 445-446

I checked out of my hotel in the Gold Coast, took my friend Andy’s advice, and drove to the spit. I ate the famous crab sandwich, which was actually not very tasty.

Crab sandwich

It was a beautiful day with bright blue skies, and fluffy white clouds sprinkled around. I walked down the concrete path, stretching out into the ocean. There were rocks on both sides. I worried the mighty wind was going to knock me into the sea! 

sand with plant life
Spit with lighthouse
Ocean with rocks

The wind created powerful waves, especially at the end of the spit. There was a small lighthouse with some manmade rocks protecting it from waves. The square rocks were chunks of concrete. The waves crashed against them and up into the sky.

Wave crashing on rocks
Woman with wave behind her
Ocean splashing on rocks

The wind was so powerful that it pushed the waves into the spit, and I got wet. Thankfully, the wind also dried me off pretty quickly. Unfortunately, the salt didn’t come off me as well. 

Ocean with pier in the background
Long concrete spit

I needed to continue my drive south, but I made stops at various beaches, including Burleigh Heads and Tweed Heads. Andy had recommended that I see them, and they were incredible! 

Beach with city in background
Nature path
Rocks and ocean

The ocean was mostly turquoise as it got close to shore, but some sections were a deeper blue. I walked along paved paths on the cliffs with unique tree and plant life. The beaches were mostly empty with clean sand. 

Walking path with trees
Tree and ocean
Trees , ocean, and rocks
Sidewalk through nature

On my way back down, I saw surfers catching waves. The whole area reminded me of the image we typically see of Australia – surfers and pristine beaches. I enjoyed the beautiful nature and relaxed vibe. 

Sun over ocean
Warning signs at beach
Crashing waves
Surfers
Palm tree and surfers

On my drive south, I passed a couple of buildings that looked like something from The Jetsons. They were large, white circular domes that faced the ocean. I wasn’t sure if they were houses or other buildings, but they looked really cool! Shortly after that, I arrived in New South Wale, one of the six states in Australia. 

White dome buildings
New South Wales sign
Highway

I arrived at Byron Bay (population 9,700), where I planned to stay the night. I was near farms with beautiful landscaping all around. I pulled over to book a place and wanted to stay in nature. I found a cute Airbnb with a studio and booked it. The sunset with fiery red and orange set against the green landscape. 

Sunset with trees

I drove to town and parked in the main parking lot. Unfortunately, I received a notification from the homeowner that they canceled my reservation because it was too short of notice. That was frustrating; they didn’t have their settings correct. 

I booked another place that said check-in was available until 6:00 pm, and it was 5:30 pm. I messaged the owner and asked for a 6:30 pm check-in, which they agreed to. 

Sunset over ocean

I walked down the main street and found a restaurant with outdoor seating with heat lamps. There was live music while I enjoyed my dinner. 

Salad

I arrived at the Airbnb, and the house was off of a pretty busy two-lane road that snaked through the forest. Once I pulled into the driveway, it dipped down to a solid gate and fence. I messaged the owner, and he opened the gate for me. 

The huge house was modern, sleek, and upscale. It looked like something from a magazine. There was a pool with large glass windows from the main house overlooking it. I pulled my car next to the garage and met Peter and Julie. 

They appeared to be in their early 60s. Peter showed me my room while Julie walked down the road to get a table at a nearby restaurant for their steak night. 

My room was above the garage and had a separate outdoor staircase entrance. We walked inside, and Peter showed me my room with an attached bathroom. Outside of my room was a small section with a mini-fridge and sink. The main house was on the other side of the wall of the kitchenette space. 

Bedroom
Bathroom
Kitchentte

My bedroom had windows on both sides of the outside corner walls. There was a balcony that overlooked the forest and road. A metal rolling shade was pulled down on the exterior balcony door. The designs were well done and appeared to be brand new. 

The bed was really comfortable, and I had a good night’s sleep. The next morning, I walked across the street and down to the coffee shop. Peter told me about a trail that started near the house. He said it would take me through the forest and eventually to the beach. 

I took his advice and walked through the path. I was the only person there, and I soaked up the quiet nature. It took me 45 minutes to arrive at the beach. 

nature path
wildlife corridor

The dark clouds and cooler weather meant the beach was mostly empty. It started to rain, and I didn’t bring my jacket or umbrella. I stood under a tree for a bit and enjoyed the views.

Beach with storm clouds
Crashing waves
Beach and forest
Rocks

Byron Bay is known for being a hippy town, and a brightly multi-colored van in the parking lot fit that description perfectly. 

hippy bus

I walked back through the forest and said some prayers. Quiet time and reflection always help to recenter me. Being in nature also adds an inner peace.

Hiking path

My friend Debbie called towards the end of the walk, and we Facetimed. I arrived back at the Airbnb and continued to chat for a while. 

Next, I drove to a cafe that was at the beach. I didn’t have much time to spend in Byron Bay, and the weather wasn’t the best, but I wanted to get an overview of it at least. People had mixed feeling about the area. I heard from some people that they thought it was too touristy and full of stereotypical hippies. Others thought it was the most beautiful and fun place they had been. 

Ocean over cliffs

After eating my burger, I hiked around the cliffs to a lighthouse. One of the paths wrapped around a small mountain, and I had to climb many stairs to reach the top. A picturesque lighthouse was at the top, and I was treated to beautiful views. 

Ocean through trees
staircase by ocean
outdoor staircase

One of the signs read, “Most easterly point of the Australian mainland.” The combination of cliffs and the raging ocean below reminded me of driving The Great Ocean Road near Melbourne. 

Lighthouse with stairs
Lighthouse
Forest and ocean
Raging ocean

As I walked around, I talked with my friend, Toni. It was nice having someone there with me, even if it were virtually. I turned back, and when I reached the bottom, I saw lots of surfers in the water. I love watching surfers catch a wave. I’ve never surfed before, but it looks like so much fun! 

surfers
sunset over ocean

To avoid getting a parking ticket, I drove to the main street with shops and restaurants. The cute shops were fun to browse and a lot that focused on natural health and healing. 

shops on main street
street art

Next, I drove to the local brewery about five minutes away from the center of town. The forest surrounded it, and I sat outside. I ordered dinner and a drink. The atmosphere was great, but it was too early and was mostly empty. 

A few months earlier, there was a missing person post on a Facebook group and the news. It was an 18-year-old Belgian backpacker (Theo Hayez) who was last seen walking on the road near the local hostel. There was video footage of him buying some alcohol at a liquor store the night of his disappearance. It was heartbreaking. He just vanished. The backpacker had been in Australia on a working holiday visa for seven months and was leaving in a week. 

After a few months of searching, they officially stopped their efforts, and he’s still missing. A year later, the searchers found a hat in the bush near the lighthouse with two hairs in it, which matched Theo’s. They believe he may have fallen off the cliffs. Those stories always bother me and are reminders of how short and fleeting life can be. I was saddened, knowing he likely spent his last moments in the area. 

The next day, I loaded up my car to check-out. I ran into Peter and talked to him about my travels. He told me that his son is a doctor and was living in Cairns for a few months for an internship. 

I told Peter that I walked through the forest to the beach, but it was mostly empty, with a few surfers. He explained that the beach is a nude men’s beach. I laughed at the thought, and thankfully I didn’t see any nude males. I’m entirely sure that I was at that beach, though. Peter told me that he likes living in Byron Bay, but he doesn’t like the town’s extreme hippy-ness. 

outdoor cafe

On my way out of town, I grabbed a coffee at the nearby café. Then I hit the road to continue driving south. A guy was riding a bicycle with a surfboard under his arm on the side of the road. I thought that was the perfect image to describe Byron Bay.

guy on bike with surfboard

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Published by Christy

I quit my corporate job and sold my house in Los Angeles so I can travel and write. I grew up in St. Louis, MO and moved to the Los Angeles area after college. I worked in the business world for 15 years. Follow along to see pictures and hear stories of people I've met along my journey so far - driving to Alaska.

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