I don’t deny it’s a privilege to live near Byron Bay.
Today, I stood waist deep in calm, turquoise water with hundreds of other bodies, facing the horizon. The sky was cloudless.
I felt as serene as the colour. With each wave that rolled lazily towards me, I counted my blessings.
The choice to live in this part of the world is obviously not difficult. We moved from Melbourne when I was pregnant with Elka. My family live around here, so that was a factor. And we decided that we would rather raise children in nature than in the city. Although we live in a town, nature surrounds us. And on a hot day, the coast is 15 minutes drive.
We visit Byron Bay when we need to be reminded that lifestyle is more important than work and stress. Once a week, sometimes twice. Lennox Head satisfies our need to relax and live, but Byron Bay makes us feel like we are on a permanent holiday.
Backpackers walk around with paintings of flags on their bronzed, tattooed arms, handing out fliers to parties. (Naturally, they walk past the mother of two small children; an unlikely candidate for a backpackers’ party.)
A man sits on a bench dressed in rainbow, adorned with hibiscus flowers. He makes the Peace sign when he sees you, and holds his hands in prayer. Today, carrying a tired and hungry child, I thanked him.
Characters like him, like them, have long defined Byron Bay’s culture. It’s changed, over the years. Interesting, local shops have been replaced by Sportsgirl, Ice and interesting, local, expensive shops. Every week, it seems like a new cafe has pushed its way up from the pavement, to serve macchiatos to trendy visitors.
The council flounders about, trying to make the most of a lucrative tourist destination, whilst satisfying environmentally conscious locals. Seven years after a small landslide caused the lighthouse walkway to collapse, a new one is finally in its place. There have been other hurdles.
Byron Bay is busy, commercial, full of Schoolies and backpackers, Melbournites, Sydney-ites…anyone. You could choose to avoid it, in favour of locations known only to smug locals, but you don’t. It’s Byron, and its silhouette – as beautiful as its toned and tanned visitors – draws you back.
And days like today make you never want to leave its turquoise waters.
Have you been to Byron Bay? What’s your backyard like?
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