Byron Bay is a heady blend of untouched nature, buzzing events and visitors from all over the world.
Most first-timers make a beeline for the town itself, with good reason given its undeniable list of noteworthy attractions. But venture a little further and whole new worlds open up, literally and metaphorically. The towns surrounding Byron Bay boast a distinctive charm, and a strong community fabric.
Don’t miss the chance to explore these gems for a fun, multi-faceted perspective of the Byron Shire in this guide to some of the area’s best day trips.
1) Lennox Head
South of Byron Bay, Lennox Head (or to the locals, simply Lennox) is a flat and straightforward drive less than half an hour from Elements of Byron. It’s a perfect escape from the bustle of Byron.
The scenery along the way is spectacular, thanks in part to Seven Mile Beach, which, according to authorities, is actually only just 5.3 miles long.
With its world famous right hand point break, surfing has defined the culture of Lennox, with a swag of competitions held there throughout the year. The best spot to watch intrepid surfers catching waves (and hang gliders) is from the Pat Morton Lookout.
Lovers of water activities will enjoy Lake Ainsworth, which offers kayaking, canoeing, stand-up paddle boarding and plenty of picnic facilities. Take note of its glorious tea-stained water from the tea trees nearby.
2) Brunswick Heads
‘Pretty’ and ‘quaint’ are words that tend to be associated with Brunswick Heads, or ‘Bruns’ for short if you want to go native.
A 20-minute drive from Elements, this town is nestled on the mouth of the lovely Brunswick River. This feature, in cahoots with the family-friendly Torakina Beach and nearby Main Beach make it one of the region’s most popular spots for holidaymakers.
After you’ve had your fill of sun-kissed activities, it’s time to check out the rest of the town.
Start with a brunch at the ever-popular Footbridge café, grab some calamari rings from one of the (gourmet) fish and chip shops or simply head to the longstanding Brunswick Hotel, famous for its great live music and other forms of merry making. It also happens to have a prime location overlooking the river.
After that, stroll around town and discover some of the area’s boutique shops like Lazybones, a sustainable label with a vintage twist, and the Mina Mina Art Gallery, to get a taste of fine indigenous art.
If you’re lucky, you might just catch the Brunswick Heads Markets, held on the first Saturday of each month in Memorial Park.
The town also has a lineup of quirky annual community events. These range from the Old and Gold Festival in June, a second-hand trash and treasure fair that sprawls across much of the area, to the Brunswick Hot Rod Run, a spectacle for motorheads. Here are more of the area’s homegrown festivals.
If you’re around Brunswick Heads in the evening, make sure to catch a film or live event at the beautifully restored Brunswick Picture House. It’s a special way to do something intensely local and fabulously fun!
Affectionately known as the ‘Biggest Little Town in Australia’, Mullumbimby is a unique and undeniably ‘colourful’ town.
Mullumbimby’s long history of embracing counter culture, from way back in the seventies, is still evident in its large numbers of resident ‘characters’ and chilled-out vibe. The town is also home to the Byron Shire Council Offices and its most popular newspaper, the Byron Shire Echo.
The drive into Mullumbimby is itself dramatic with a steep rollercoaster road and striking views of the 260-metre high Mount Chincogan.
Don’t be deceived by the simplicity of the town itself, which consists of only a few main streets laid out in a grid. There are plenty of great eating spots, including the popular Punch and Daisy for a delicious brunch, and the equally crowd-pleasing pizzeria, Milk and Honey.
On Friday mornings, the community gathers at the Mullum Farmers Market, worth checking out for this fact alone. Still in town is the gorgeous Mullumbimby Community Gardens, another great spot for people – and plant – watching. Here you can share a pot of chai for a fixed price, or grab a bunch of kale (or whatever’s in season) in return for a small donation.
A few kilometres away is the magical (yes, magical) Crystal Castle. Perfect for big kid and little kids, this lush sanctuary is well worth the entry fee. Not only can you bask in the energy of amazing crystals, there are plenty of garden walks and a great shop.
For a pamper session, head to the Kiva Spa. Tucked in a little laneway in town, you’ll feel like you’re on another planet in this tranquil Asian-inspired bathhouse.
4) Bangalow & Newrybar
A 15-minute drive from Elements of Byron, through the lush hinterland, lies the picturesque town of Bangalow. The name is believed to come from the Banjalang Aboriginal word ‘Bangalla’, which means a ‘low hill’ or ‘a kind of palm tree’.
Its main street is an alluring mix of federation buildings and boutique shops, such as fashion and interiors store Bisque Traders or the Island Luxe Tribe. For incense, bamboo wind chimes, clothes, throw rugs or pretty much anything else, drop into Abracadabra, a hippy bazaar which has been around since 1973!
Before heading out of town, grab a refreshing drink at the cheerful and ever stylish Bangalow Hotel. For a quick bite, we’d recommend the Asian dumpling and yum cha house Red Ginger. For a burger fix, sample one of the succulent chicken burgers at Bang Burger Bar.
Next stop is Newrybar, about six kilometres down the road south of Bangalow, just off the Pacific Highway. What this tiny hamlet lacks in size is made up for through loads of country charm. Historic and hip at the same time, Newrybar has been put on the map by the culinary institution Harvest, with its much celebrated seasonal and sustainable ethos. There’s no better place than here for a lingering three-course lunch (or dinner). You can also take home some of their fine products from the Harvest deli next door.
Not far away, you’ll find the retail collaboration, Newrybar Merchants, which features the creative offerings of local artisans. At driftlab, you can pick up some seriously cool threads, along other effortlessly stylish curated items.
Want more inspiration for things to do in Byron Bay? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Byron Bay.