One of the best kept secrets of Byron bay are the tea tree lakes, fabulous for swimming but particularly handy when the winds of autumn make beach swimming vaguely unpleasant.
The red brown of the lakes can sometimes make visitors wary, but they get their colour from the eucalypts that grow along the banks, their supernatural oil drips down into the water, creating something similar to a ‘medical bath. It is wonderfully therapeutic.
In the Arakwal national park, there are a number of small lakes, wetlands and a walking/cycling track, which crosses the creek via a wooden bridge. According to Arakwal elder Aunty Linda Vidler, the place is “our stomping ground”…“we used to come for our natural food: fish and crabs and eels, in this little creek here”, she said. The park is also home to rare orchids and two threatened frog species – the Wallum Froglet and Wallum Sedge Frog. Just down from the bridge, there’s a grassy track, which leads to the water’s edge. Down Ironbark Lane is a beautiful walk through the national park to my favourite tea tree lake, which washes out to Tallows Beach.
If your’ re looking for nearby accommodation, a new AirBnB called Perfect Two Bedroom Beach Pad is right on your doorstep.
One of my favourite cafes in town, the Roadhouse is 50 metres away. It not only serves great coffee and food but also stocking the biggest whisky and whiskey collection in Australia. It’s a scene. Open windows lined with stools look out to a deck shaded by umbrellas and palm trees by day and lit by hurricane lamps at night. Inside, two full walls are taken up with aged Scotches, rare Japanese single malts and stuff from Australia’s can-do distilleries. If it’ s too busy there, there is always the Top Shop with its top quality ingredients, service and coffee.
Remember that Byron Bay is the best place in the world to learn how to surf – its gentle long waves at The Pass providing a protected adventure for the very young and the very old. Don’t be put off by the sharks, there’ s really not that many of them (!) but if you want complete peace of mind Captain G (firstname.lastname@example.org) will make you a custom designed board with shark repellent device embedded. Then you can surf anywhere!
It still feels like a piece of the 70’s here, a musician on every hill, as my friend Rob Hirst -drummer and lyricist from Midnight Oil, says.
He should know. There is nothing better than a dozen oysters and a beer at The Pass at sunset, where you can probably hear the drumming at Main Beach echoing across the Bay.