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Chasing Slow – Part 22: NSW north coast to Byron Bay

Surfers at Byron bay

Byron Bay sits right up the top of NSW where the clear warm water rolls in from the east onto the pristine, sandy surf beaches. Known for long hair and a laid back atmosphere, the place is an iconic Australian surf town and always a lot of fun to visit.

We’ve been on the road for about eight months now and it’s almost time for us to move to France, so Byron’s about the most northern part of the east coast that we’ve planned on reaching for this trip. It’s around 800 kms from the Blue Mountains and although we we’re pretty excited to get there, we decided to take our time making our way up the coastline.

We left the Blue Mountains, slowly made our way through Sydney and about 400+ kms later, we reached Coopernook Forest Campground, which is around 50 kms shy of Port Macquarie.

Read more about Coopernook Forest Free Campground.

Being so busy hiking in the Blue Mountains, we had a bit of online work to catch up on & this seemed like a great place for it, so we stayed a few days then hit the coast at Diamond Head, only about a 30 minute drive away.

Although the swell was a bit rough, it was so nice to be back on the coast! & the best thing about the place is that Diamond Head Campground is just behind the beach, so we could set up the caravan less than 50 metres from the sand!

Read more about Diamond Head Campground.

From Diamond Head to Byron Bay is just under 450 kms, but with a 36 degree day ahead and the fact that we wanted to see more of this part of the coast, Eva found another campground just off the beach at Red Cliff, right beside Lake Arragan, which was about a 3.5 hour drive north, then it’s only around 1.5 hours further to Byron.

We got up early for an unsuccessful attempt to beat the heat, but got a bit of relief with a swim at the beach after making it to Red Cliff.

Read more about Lake Arragan and Red Cliff campgrounds.

Our new 100% cotton canvas A Frame tent was in the car and the grass patch just above the Red Cliffs was the perfect place to set it up. We got it out, had a play, then we set off to Byron Bay.

Byron Bay is the most eastern town on mainland Australia, it’s at the top of New South Wales, about 70 kms from the Queensland border. The entire town seems to exist for tourism. Winding streets busy with foot traffic are packed with bars, shops, healthy cafes, hotels and other holiday accommodation all on the sea side. Sandy surf beaches and forest border the two full sides of Byron Bay, adding to the holiday atmosphere.

I’ve been up this way on a few occasions and it’s been a lot of fun each time. I was trying not build things up too much for Eva, but it didn’t matter, she fell in love with the place after a swim near the lighthouse and a few drinks on our first evening.

We camped at Glen Villa Resort, a caravan park right in the middle of Byron Bay and our plan was just stay a few days, but like every other time I’ve been here, we found it hard to leave, so we ended up staying for a week.

Read more about Glen Villa Resort & Caravan Park in Byron Bay.

The first few days were mainly spent trying to see as much of Byron as we could. We covered countless kilometres on foot, visiting different shops and beaches during the day, then exploring the bars at night. It was a lot of fun to have being able to have swim, grab a few drinks and then walk back to our van. It’s something that we haven’t done a lot of over the last eight months or so while being on the road, and now that our trip is coming to an end, we thought that we had better make the most of it!

On the north-east corner of town is the Cape Byron lighthouse that stands tall on top of a steep, forest covered hill. The views from the top let you see the different beaches that border Byron Bay and although it’s possible to drive to the top, we parked down at one of the beaches below and hiked up.

We started at Watego’s beach, arguably the most stunning in the area and the best for surfing. The track was steep all of the way up to the lighthouse, but it was super worth the effort as not only did we get some great views of Byron and the surrounding area, but we could see dozens of dolphins, a few string rays and even a shark swimming at the bottom of the cliff.

Instead of heading back the way we came from, we walked another few k’s and completed a loop called the Cape Byron Lighthouse Track. The trail ended up going past five beaches and went through a heap of dense, tropical forest, which was a great way to see another part of Byron, not just the town centre and main beach.

Read more about the Cape Byron Lighthouse Track.

When we made it back to Watego’s, we were feeling pretty hot. We dropped the bag on the sand and headed in for an incredible swim while watching the surfers.

The following day, we came back to Watego’s beach for a surf and it ended up being one of the highlights of our entire trip around Australia. The waves were just how we liked them and rolling in consistently, one after the other. We were having a lot of fun, both of us in high spirits, then a storm hit and smashed us with heavy rain. The water was still warm and the waves didn’t stop, so neither did we. It was such a fun experience and the perfect way to finish our stay in Byron Bay.

Up next: We’re going to briefly head a little bit further north and check out a national park in Queensland before finishing up the trip and this blog series.

About Guy

Hey guys, I'm Guy - one of the founders of WAY&FARER and the main one posting on the blog. I've written about hundreds of places to visit, campgrounds and hiking trails both on the WAY&FARER blog and in the "EXPLORE" section on this website. If you've got any questions about anything that I've written or you've noticed that one of the places we've covered has changed & needs an update, please get in touch with me via guy@wayandfarer.com. Otherwise, I'll leave you to enjoy the blog and while you're at it, take a look at the WAY&FARER Camping Shop! Cheers, Guy

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