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Beach Town Escape: Byron Bay

Set on the Australian mainland’s most easterly point, this bolt-hole for creative Sydneysiders has year-round appeal, thanks to cultural events such as August’s annual writer’s festival and natural wonders such as consistent surf and humpback whales (they migrate past during Byron’s winter months).

When to Go
Southern Hemisphere summer, December through March, finds the town in full swing with film, music, and art festivals.

Dine and Drink
Join the board shorts brigade at The Top Shop, a laid-back café whose gourmet burgers, homemade panini, and heart-starting espressos are the perfect post-surf tonic. Hit the Beach Hotel’s classic pub overlooking Byron’s Main Beach for great sunset views from the beer garden, live music every night, and lashings of comfort food (snapper pie, anyone?). For a big night out, try Italian at the Pacific.

Shop
Aspiring gypsy queens shop at Spell for diaphanous dresses, fringed kimonos, and luxe hippie jewelry. Browse the racks at Madame Pompidou, a boutique that stocks big-name Australian designers such as Ksubi, Sass & Bide, and Lover. Outfit junior trendsetters at Tiny People, which carries cool clothing for toddlers and kids.

Beach Town Tips
• Best Beach for Surfing: Try The Pass, at the end of Clarkes Beach; longboarders prefer sheltered Wategos Beach—which is also great for people-watching.

• Best Beach for Families: Everyone loves Main Beach, but parents particularly appreciate that lifeguards patrol it during the summer.

• Best Beach for Wildlife: The province of surfers, dolphins, and migrating whales, pristine, rain-forest-fringed Tallow Beach is generally quieter than the town’s other beaches.

• Locals Know: Insiders swear by the Purna yoga classes at Byron Yoga Centre, one of the town’s oldest and most respected studios.

• Sunset Spot: Watch the sun go down from the deck overlooking Clarkes Beach at Byron Beach Café with a Southside cocktail, made from Tanqueray, fresh lime, and mint.

• Give it a Try: Embrace Byron’s new-age leanings in the town of Mullumbimby, a 20-minute drive into the hinterland. There, visitors to Crystal Castle take peaceful rain-forest walks and have tarot, palm, and aura readings.

• Barefoot Factor: Check your sandals at the curb.

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