Byron Writers Festival marked its 20th year with its strongest and best received program yet, breaking box office records and presenting a festival full of history making moments like Stan Grant’s Thea Astley Lecture that people will continue to talk about for years to come.
Blue skies broke for our 'True Believers' Leigh Sales, Kerry O'Brien and Sarah Ferguson on Festival Friday Pic: Evan Malcolm
After severe storm damage on the Wednesday night, it took a gargantuan effort to open the gates on Friday morning. I would like to thank the Festival team, the volunteers, our partners and everyone in the community who all went above and beyond to make it happen. Also to our wonderful patrons who remained good-humoured and enthusiastic despite the weather.
How heartbreaking it would have been if we hadn’t been able to listen to the beautiful Festival conversations that moved us so profoundly. Our storytellers are our most important teachers and I would like to thank all the writers and people who chaired each session for leading us on incredible journeys over the three days. It is my sincerest hope that all of us who witnessed those stories carry them out into our communities so that the conversations continue to live on.
The Byron Flea is a monthly market (Every second Saturday of the month 8am - 2pm) nestled in the parklands behind the Byron Bay Library right in the centre of town and 2mins walk from Byron Bay’s pristine coastline. A social enterprise aimed at giving young people opportunities and bringing the community together, the Byron Flea is a monthly event not to be missed.
The market attracts an eclectic bunch of locals and travelers selling art, second-hand goods, as well as creative enterprise and locally made food. The Byron Flea Market is described as having that unassuming ‘Old Byron’ feel and people return month after month for its quaint charm.
Stalls only cost $10 for people 20 years and under and $20 for everyone else. This includes Public Liability which makes it affordable for everyone to participate.
There is parking on Gilmore Crescent or at the end of Tennyson Street.
Sunny and warm winter days reaching 27 degrees made for a very comfortable three days in which to enjoy the music, art and food. The North Byron Parklands festival site has so many different vantage points to explore - we ended up walking over 45kms!
My eldest daughter and I enjoyed seeing the headline acts each night, the energetic emerging artists each day, the Wil Anderson & friends Comedy Club, The Global Village and the excellent variety of food. For me, I'm still humming 'Cattle and Cane', making Robert Forster in the GW McLennan Tent my personal highlight of Splendour 2016.
My personal highlight, Robert Forster in the GW McLennan Tent
Here's a selection of images from the Splendour in the Grass 2016 - looking forward to seeing you all again next year!
Held upstairs at the Mullumbimby Ex-Services Club, the Mullum Uke Club sees enthusiasts from around the region get together and celebrate the ukulele.
Mullumbimby resident Stu, known as Stukulele, formed the club back in 2011. Along with his passion for all things music, Stu has extensive experience teaching children and adults ukulele. He wanted a place for his students to play together, and the Mullum Uke Club was born. The monthly meet-ups proved to be incredibly popular, with a regular attendance of between 70 and 200 people.
Meetings take place on the last Thursday of each month. Ukulele players of all levels and ages come together to sing and play songs from a themed monthly songbook, which can be downloaded from the Mullum Uke Club’s newsletter. The songbook contains 20 well-known songs suitable for beginners and seasoned players alike. Players are welcomed to suggest songs, too.
Those who intend to play will need to bring their own ukulele, and if possible, a tuner. If you don’t have one, you’re welcome to come along, watch, and sing. Kids of all ages and adults just starting out are encouraged to play – the number one objective of the Mullum Uke Club is to have fun.
This month, the Mullum Uke Club is turning 5! Players will celebrate with the Songs of the Silver Screen songbook. Plus, singer-songwriter Leigh Carriage will be attending the birthday meet-up on July 28 at 6:30pm. Entry is $12.50 for adults, and $2.50 for children under 10.
Byron Bay is one of Australia’s best destinations to spot the majestic humpback whale on its annual migration from cold Antarctic waters to warmer breeding grounds off the coast of Queensland.
Every year between May and November, an estimated average of 17,000 whales migrate north past the east coast of Australia. Humpback whales are believed to use landmarks to navigate their migration route, causing them to swim close to the coastline. As the country’s most easterly point, Byron Bay is spoilt with up-close views of these incredible creatures.
The International Whale Census Day, held on the last Sunday of June, sees dedicated volunteer whale enthusiasts and visitors count the humpbacks as they pass Cape Byron. In 2016, the count was expected to reach 25,000. However, humpbacks remain listed as vulnerable in New South Wales.
The best vantage point for whale watching on land is the Cape Byron Lighthouse, which stands over the Cape Byron Marine Park. Built over 200 years ago, the lighthouse is accessible by car or by foot, and offers unparalleled panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean.
Whale Watching Byron Bay can get you even closer to the humpbacks with a number of ocean tours available in Byron Bay. Witness the whales breaching off the coast with a 2.5-hour Whale Watching Cruise. The tour, which departs everyday June through November, accommodates a maximum of 12 people. In addition to whales, customers often see turtles, dolphins, and ocean birds.
Cape Byron Kayaks tours taken during whale season are an exciting way to glimpse the humpbacks from the water. There’s nothing quite like seeing such a huge animal so close up!
Adventure to the stunning Killen Falls, take a drive through the hinterland’s rolling hills, indulge in lunch at Doma Cafe, and take in the breathtaking beauty of Minyon Falls. This day trip showcases some of the best the Byron Shire has to offer.
Located a short 30-minute drive from Byron Bay, Killen Falls is an incredible waterfall and swimming hole surrounded by dense, green rainforest, and eroded rocks. The 10m waterfall, a part of Emigrant Creek, can be accessed by a short walking track. Be aware, this track is pretty rocky and slippery with a steep decline, so may not be suitable for young children. The track will lead you right to the base of the roaring falls – it’s spectacular.
What makes Killen Falls so special is the cave-like rocks that surround the water; you can even walk and sit behind the waterfall without getting wet!
Drive Through Byron’s Hinterland
After Killen Falls, drive north into Federal. The scenic half-hour drive winds through back roads, under towering trees, and past picture-perfect views. Byron is well-known for it’s world-class beaches, and the countryside is just as beautiful.
Lunch at Doma Cafe
Situated in the quiet village of Federal, Doma Cafe is a well-known lunch-spot loved by locals and visitors alike. A unique blend of cafe classics and Japanese specialties makes for some of the most unique (and delicious) dishes in the area. Think halloumi burgers topped with Japanese hash brown, and huge sushi cones too pretty to eat. In addition, there’s a variety of cakes and great coffee.
All of this is served in a laidback ‘back yard’ environment, complete with dogs and chickens!
After lunch, head to Minyon Falls. Situated a 30-minute drive from Doma Cafe, Minyon Falls is a showcase of nature’s beauty in the Nightcap National Park. The waterfall cascades over 100m of rhyolite cliffs, which once were a part of the huge Tweed Volcano. The tops of these cliffs are dotted with towering Australian eucalyptus trees, including blackbutt and scribbly gum. The waterfall rains into a natural pool, ideal for swimming in in the warmer months.
Minyon Falls can be viewed from the Minyon Falls Lookout, or on the 7.5km Minyon Falls loop walking track, which is quite difficult and takes about 4 hours to complete.
After the second waterfall of the day, head home to Byron Bay, which is about an hours drive east.
Byron Bay is well known for its relaxed beach lifestyle and stunning scenery. If you’re wondering how to see the best of the region during your stay, here are six ways to score a great ocean view.
1. Ride in a Gyrocopter
It’s hard to beat the view from 1,500 feet. Many who’ve done it swear that a gyrocopter flight is the best way to see Byron Bay. The helicopter’s slightly goofylooking cousin, gyrocopters are among the world’s safest aircrafts. Fly to heights between 150 and 500 metres, taking in the region’s countryside, mountains and beaches; you might even spot dolphins, rays and turtles swimming below. Other aerial activities to consider during a visit to Byron Bay include hang gliding and – for the truly adventurous – skydiving.
2. Hike the Cape Byron Walking Track (“The Lighthouse Trail”)
The Cape Byron Walking Track winds 3.7km through lush rainforest and along clifftops and beaches, stopping by at the iconic Cape Byron Lighthouse. This coastal trail offers spectacular views of some of Australia’s best beaches and can take anywhere from one to three hours to complete. For a truly memorable experience, start your walk an hour or two before sunset. This way, you can add a splash of vibrant, autumnal colour to the already breathtaking views.
3. Visit the Cape Byron Lighthouse
If the weather is less than ideal, or if you’re just not feeling up to the walk, you can just as easily park your car at the lighthouse and skip to the highlight of the trail. Built in 1901, Cape Byron Lighthouse is one of Byron Bay’s biggest attractions, drawing over half a million visitors every year. Thanks to its status as Australia’s most easterly point, the lighthouse offers uninterrupted, panoramic views of the Byron Bay hinterland, ocean, and unending coastline.
4. Start Your Morning at Beach Byron Bay
Perched high on the dunes overlooking Main Beach and the ocean beyond, Beach Byron Bay (formerly ‘Byron Beach Cafe’) is one of the most scenic places to dine in Byron Bay. Enjoy a coffee as you watch the sun rise from furthest corners of the horizon, or treat yourself to a meal on the outdoor deck accompanied by the sound of crashing waves below. Beach Byron Bay is open for breakfast and lunch seven days a week.
5. Splash Around in a Sea Kayak
Consider soaking up Byron Bay from an entirely different perspective: from the seat of a kayak. There are few better ways to get up close and personal with the ocean and its inhabitants than by gliding through the crystal clear waters of Cape Byron Marine Park in a sea kayak. Book a tour to get the most from your time on the water and get the chance to encounter turtles, dolphins, whales, and other marine life. With many tour companies providing snacks and drinks, plus wetsuits in the cooler months, it’s easier than ever to get out on the waters of Byron Bay.
6. Grab a Pint at the Beach Hotel
For over 25 years, the Beach Hotel has been one of Byron Bay’s busiest food, drink and entertainment venues. On sunny days, the hotel’s beer garden is a great spot to enjoy a frosty beverage with the locals along with the stellar view. Evenings at the Beach Hotel often feature live music from established bands, as well as up and coming artists. Consider stopping at Main Beach’s only beachfront pub for a drink, a meal, and a priceless view.
This week Byron will become the permanent home of the two largest crystals in the world, a towering 5.5 metre smoky quartz geode and a 5.5 metre wide amethyst geode cave. The Crystal Castle in the Byron hinterland has purchased the natural giants in a monumental deal with a Uruguayan farmer and long term friend of the Castle. The acquisition marks the Crystal Castle’s 30 th Anniversary and they will join what is already the largest outdoor display of crystals in the world.
Naren King inside the enchanted crystal cave
“Thirty years ago we were seen as offbeat hippies out the back of Byron Bay” said Naren King, the Crystal Castle’s “Managing Dreamer”. From humble beginnings on their twelve acre property Naren and his family have guided the Crystal Castle, which encompasses the world renowned Shambhala Gardens, to their current status as a State Significant Tourist Attraction. In 2012 the Castle added the only Kalachakra Stupa for World Peace in the Southern Hemisphere, a project blessed by His Holiness The Dalai Lama. Thousands of visitors of all ages and faiths make the pilgrimage along the scenic escarpment to visit annually. Princess Mary of Denmark, Chris Hemsworth and his family, Katy Perry and Natalie Imbruglia were all enchanted. Kerry O’Brien is a regular.
Naren King and daughter Manya King with the world's biggest crystal
Both crystals, estimated to be 120 million years old, will be on display for visitors to experience. The amethyst cave, becoming known as the “enchanted cave” will also be available for group and private meditations, where visitors can sit inside the crystal for intensive inspiration. “Amethyst has many qualities, perhaps the most powerful being higher inspiration” said Naren King. “So we are creating a range of guided meditations that people can listen to whilst inside the crystal, if they choose. It’s an extraordinary experience to sit inside this cave surrounded by millions of sparkling crystals”.
The science behind crystals has long been accepted with clear quartz used in high precision surgery, computer chips, watches and electric guitars. “Amethyst and smoky quartz are clear quartz with certain minerals present” explained King, “So whilst clear quartz is programmable these crystals come with their own program, or specific healing energies. It’s no coincidence that the Pope’s ring is amethyst and the Queen’s crown is set with crystals”.
Naren King hails from globally renowned esoteric stock. To survive three years in Changi as a prisoner of the Japanese during the Second World War his father, Sydney Piddington (King changed his surname) developed an ESP show for the other prisoners of war to help maintain morale. Following the war Sydney and his young wife Lesley were signed to present a series of live radio broadcasts for the BBC “The Piddingtons”, which garnered 20 million listeners.
The broadcasts, which demonstrated the Piddingtons’ telepathic abilities, was the first BBC broadcast from the stratosphere and saw Naren’s mother as the only woman to be locked up in the Tower of London and get out alive. To this day the Piddingtons are considered to be one of the greatest two-person telepathy acts of all time.
“People have travelled to Byron for inspiration and dreaming for thousands of years” said Byron Shire Mayor Simon Richardson. “So it is only fitting that these beacons of hope should make their way here. I can’t wait to see them”.
Although a small town, Byron Bay's CBD is husle-bustle with cafes, boutique shopping, restaurants and pubs all just minutes from Main Beach. Staying in the centre of Byron can be a great way to easily enjoy all the town has to offer. There is a variety of accommodation options between Jonson and Middleton Streets from Main Beach back to Marvell Street.
Luxury two bedroom, three bathroom apartment designed over two levels, right in the centre of town. This well appointed two bedroom, three bathroom Byron Bay apartment has been beautifully designed and furnished. Built over two levels, the property offers guests plenty of room to relax and unwind with spacious accommodation and balconies off both sides of the apartment.
4 1/2 star apartments are elegantly appointed within a complex surrounded by restaurants, cafes and retail outlets. Relax by our pool and enjoy access to free wi-fi or take a 3 minute walk to Byrons’ main beach. Byron Bay has a great village atmosphere with it's unique shops and cafe's.
Flash backpackers in the heart of byron bay offers a variety of dorm accommodation both ensuited and non ensuited, as well as budget doubles and King Deluxe rooms. Nomads Byron Bay is spacious and fun with a huge sun drenched courtyard, 2 x ten seater spas, massive communal areas and an industrial sized kitchen. We also have a TV room with a massive 50 inch big screen.
Guests feel relaxed and "on holiday" from the moment they arrive. Byron Bathers is an impressive B&B purpose built (2006) in a classic Australian timber beach house style. Situated in a quiet, leafy lane way right in the heart of vibrant Byron Bay. Step outside our oasis to enjoy the many cafes, shops and restaurants less than a minute from our door and 400m easy stroll to Main Beach Surf Club.
Offers a range of well appointed fully self contained one and two Bedroom deluxe apartments with free security parking in the centre of Byron. All apartments have a spacious balcony or courtyard. There's a heated swimming pool situated next to the on-site cafe and there is a tiled common area with outdoor seating.
BBIFF 2016 is on 30 April 10am - 11pm at The Elements of Byron Resort
Byron Bay has long been a fashionable holiday destination for the young and glamorous, now it is so much more! The Byron Bay International Fashion Festival is in its second year and earmarked to become an important date on the fashion calendar for emerging labels and international brands. Last year's event showcased "15" local, national and international brands in a series of shows with the spectacular backdrop of Byron Bay's Main Beach.
This year the brand new five-star beach resort "Elements" will host the festival amidst its lush gardens, breath-taking pools and private beach. The day into night programme of indoor and outdoor runway shows will present everything from swimwear to lingerie, sport-lux, casual and evening wear modelled by a diverse group of beautiful models.
Patrons of the festival are encouraged to truly savour the location by staying at the resort and enjoying a "festival only" reduced rate in the beautiful villas and bungalows.
The festival will utilize all aspects of this beautiful location. The state of the art pavilions equipped with the latest wi-fi technology will set the stage for the ticket only runway shows. Enjoy international fashion films poolside on the "drive-in" style cinema screen, media and designer interviews in the main restaurant, group shows on the private beachfront and pool, and an exclusive wrap party that will bring to an end a day full of innovation, fashion and potential new collaborations between business and designers.
In the grounds surrounding the main festival buildings there will be an all day "shop the runway" fashion expo where the public and ticketholders can shop the many stalls of fashion, beauty and accessories and enjoy live music. Also open to the public are two sample shows, one on the beach and a swimwear showing poolside to showcase a selection of garments that will appear in the runway shows.