Over the last twenty million years, a once-active volcano has gradually eroded, producing one of the largest calderas in the world. The more dramatic remnants are now called Mt Warning and its surrounding area. The rich, volcanic soil has brought with it, an array of sub-tropical flora and fauna. The area is protected over five World Heritage listed National Parks, preserving it's sacred eco-system. And to think that this incredible hinterland is wrapped around the Byron Shire, a relaxed coastal town, full with hidden beaches and scenic drives. The Editorialist travelled up the coast to dig a little deeper, and uncover the hidden treasures that lie within this remarkable region. Join us, as we fly over the Lighthouse in a helicopter, gallop through the woods on horseback and float over the hinterland in a hot-air balloon.
Where to stay?
Elements of Byron.
Tucked away in the industrial area of Byron Bay, is the brand new Sofitel retreat, Elements of Byron. The space was set up over a picturesque estate, allowing for a luxurious amount of space and diverse array of flora. The central part of the hotel showcases incredible architectural features and design. Allow the staff to escort you to your bungalow, or simply drive across the property yourself. The rooms themselves are romantic, exuding a sense of comfort and warmth. Neatly strewn knitted blankets and throws cover the bed and lounge areas, while polished concrete feature-walls encase the freestanding tub. If you like to rise with the sun, book-in for the complimentary morning yoga class, held in the common quarters. The grounds are moments from a private beach and steps away from a horse-riding ranch; you might end up boycotting the busy town centre and spending the rest of your time right here. The dining room looks over the expansive outdoor pool and cabana area. Breakfast is prepared using a selection of fresh and seasonal produce, carefully picked and locally sourced. We recommend our trusty favourite - a pair of poached eggs, served on crusty sourdough, with a side of smoked salmon. Don’t forget to check yourself into the spa before you leave, the facials will leave you in complete bliss.
Byron at Byron.
Byron at Byron is located just a short drive out of the main township, ensuring a peaceful and serene getaway, without sacrificing accessibility. The resort is laid out across a luscious 45-acre block of land, so drive your car across the property and park right out the front of your bungalow. Each space has it's own leafy outlook, stretched across two private decks. The dining room is wrapped amid a blooming forest canopy, the perfect nook to enjoy your daily breakfast. A highlight of the hotel is the sapphire-coloured infinity pool, resting beneath the beaming rays of sun. The pool area is protected from wind, so even on an autumn getaway you can find yourself a sunny spot. The luxurious day-spa came highly recommended to us; we suggest the full-body massage, something to let all the stresses of home slip right away. Before you go, don’t forget to book yourself in for the daily yoga class, an experience that is complimentary for guests; and if you’re here for a special occasion, we recommend booking the deluxe Spa Suite. The suite is a pleasant ten-minute walk from the hotels main quarters and just five-minutes from Tallows beach - romance and seclusion.
What to do?
Just a stones throw away from Elements of Byron, is the humble Zephyr Horse Stables. Surrounded by the luscious hinterland, is an array of incredible tracks prepared by the Zephyr team. Founder, Kate Noller, had a vision; she wanted to provide a unique and indulgent horse riding experience, where her clients could really connect with the horses. “Zephyr Horses is about riding in the wilderness, in the elements, feeling freedom and connection. The sense of achievement, connection, respect and self worth that comes from being around horses is like no other.” The horses have been bred and trained by the team, which has allowed them to exude a calm and peaceful ambiance. You can choose to come as a single or in a small group, exploring a diverse forest trail, or riding through an opening straight through to the beach. If you choose to explore a little further, you can end up at Julian Rocks. If you take an afternoon ride, you can watch the magnificent horses get fed before they re-enter the stables; the perfect end to your day.
Byron Bay Ballooning.
Starting from its humble beginnings as a family owned and operated business, has transpired into a renowned and entirely unique experience for Byron Bay. The 4.30am wake up is not for the faint-hearted, however, I do assure you that it’s entirely worth it. Waking up at the crack of dawn, we drove through the Byron hinterland until we found a spot to set up; we decided to take off from a secluded field, just as the sun began to flare. The team, piloted by Thomas Dattler and Chris Dewhirst, fired up the balloons in a cinematic display, as we gently began to rise in the air. Throughout the hour ride, we soared past houses, over picturesque fields, all whilst our neighbouring balloon kept in close range. The fellow balloon acted as the perfect addition to the already elaborate scenery. Landing back at the base, felt like a complete whirlwind; awaiting our arrival was a toasty breakfast spread, warm jugs of coffee and a several glasses of champagne. Up in the clouds was really the perfect way to spend the morning.
Air T+G Helicopters.
Owners and pilots, Tim and Georgie Latimer began Air T+G in 2006, with the mission to create a family operated experience, unique and personalised for the passenger. Taking flight over Byron Bay and the surrounding hinterland is as incredibly picturesque as it is diverse. Hold tight, as you soar above rainforest canopies and trickling waterfalls, across miles of sandy beaches that are full with exotic marine life. Often, you can spot a pod of dolphins soaring past, and if you’re lucky you might just catch a glimpse of the sea turtles. Humpback whales are normally sighted migrating north during the winter months. The adrenaline of the flight isn’t comparable to anything I’ve experienced, seeing the world below you, through a completely different perspective.
Where to eat?
Just outside the Byron Township, is a small town called Newrybar, which is home to the locally owned and operated Harvest Newrybar. This quaint eatery feels like the country house, you just want to keep on coming back to. Warm and humble interiors set the tone for the organic and locally sourced produce, which aims to showcase the diversity of its neighbouring regions. Expanding their offerings, you can choose to skip the morning cue and grab a takeaway from the Bakery instead – which is located just next door. It is in the bakery where the magic truly happens, where fresh artisan sourdough begins to bake in the early hours of the morning, and an array of delicatessen goods are set up, ready for service. A trip to Byron Bay would not be complete without taking a detour to this marvellous establishment.
Standing tall in the town centre of Byron Bay is one of the last historical buildings left. This picturesque building is home to the divine Balcony Bar and Oyster co. The Balcony lures you up a velvety-red staircase until you reach a panoramic upstairs setting. The open-plan space allows for a sweeping sea breeze and the perfect perch for people watching. Now under new management, the Balcony has re-invented itself with a sophisticated seafood menu, complemented by a carefully curated selection of tapas. The chilli mud-crab and freshly shucked oysters come highly recommended. The Balcony is a truly quintessential Byron Bay experience.