Byron Bay with kids
New South Wales
David Thorndike rediscovers the beauty of Byron Bay
as a family destination 10 years after his last visit.
Byron Bay is a quintessential Aussie
destination, combining some of
NSW’s most pristine beaches with
the beauty of the Hinterland. It’s
been 10 years since I last
succumbed to its easy-going pace, and this
time I’ve got the family in tow.
Life’s a beach
Like many families, we’re attracted to the region
for its sun, sand and sea. The main patrolled
beach, aptly named Main Beach, is hugely
popular, but it’s not always easy to find a
parking spot. Once you do, you can relax and
enjoy the gorgeous views, not to mention the
amazing human diversity that the area attracts.
From barefoot hippies, street artists and
European backpackers to young families,
middle-aged couples and teenage surfies,
Byron really has a bit of everything.
When exploring the shopping area in town,
take the kids to Byron Bay Cookies for some
of the best biscuits in Australia, while for all
your surf hire needs pop over to The Wreck
Surf Shop which is also home to Let’s Go Surfing surfboard lessons.
With individual, private family and group
lessons available, Let’s Go Surfing is by far
the easiest way for beginners to give surfing a
try. The friendly instructors (Blake and
Mercedes for our group) went out of their way
to make sure that everyone had a fun time. The
lesson included basic surf conditions, signals
to communicate from the water, paddling out
into the waves, and of course, how to stand up
and ride a wave back to the beach. We were
using foam boards, which, although a lot
heavier than normal fibreglass surfboards,
provide extra flotation for beginners.
While a good level of fitness is required to
keep paddling out time after time, the
excitement of standing up on the board and
catching a wave will keep you going back for
more. If the smiles on the faces of our crew at
the end of the lesson were anything to go by,
Australia now has another half dozen surfers
ready to compete for the best pipelines.
Explore the region
A must-visit is the Cape Byron Lighthouse,
standing on the most easterly point of
mainland Australia. The views are amazing in
all directions, so take your camera along, as
well as booking in for the full tour which
includes a visit to the maritime museum on site.
The Byron Community Market is held on
the first Sunday of every month and will keep
mum enthralled for at least half a day. There
are over a hundred stalls during the peak
months with many locally made craft and
clothing items available. On our visit there was
also live folk music, a puppeteer, DIY tie-dye
shirts for the kids, and we all sampled a cold
drink of freshly squeezed sugarcane juice.
For a great drive through the countryside,
head south and then west from Byron along
Bangalow Road and enjoy the views back over
the ocean as you climb the hills. Explore the
pretty village of Bangalow just after you cross
the main highway, before heading south for 20
minutes until you reach Macadamia Castle.
This attraction is home to an Animal Fun
Park featuring over 150 native and farmyard
creatures. There is also an 18-hole mini-golf
course, café and over 200 locally made
products on sale in its fine food section.
Located on the main road about a kilometre
before you reach the centre of town, Discovery
Holiday Parks – Byron Bay is perfectly
situated to get the most out of your holiday,
without having to fight the crowds and traffic
that can dominate during peak seasons.
With a choice of powered and unpowered
sites suitable for tents, camper trailers or
caravans, as well as luxury safari tents and
cabins, there are plenty of options available.
Our pick would have to be the new deluxe
two-bedroom/studio combined cabins.
The larger cabin is perfect for large families.
It has two bedrooms, one with a queen-size
bed for mum and dad, and the other with two
sets of bunks sleeping up to four kids. There is
also a good sized bathroom, a combined
dining/living area complete with fridge, oven
and television, plus a huge deck area looking
straight out over the lake.
The second cabin is
perfect for extended family with a small
kitchenette, ensuite bathroom, queen-size bed
and a private balcony with lake views. Both
cabins are connected by a foyer area from the
main entrance door, and can be locked and
accessed independently of each other.
There is plenty to do on site with a full-size
tennis court, half-size basketball court, giant
jumping pillow, pedal carts and a large
resort-style swimming pool (as well as a
second in-ground pool reserved for adults
looking for a quiet escape).
attraction has been a huge hit over summer:
the brand-new ‘Barrel Waterpark’ has three
slides, a five-metre-high water-tipping barrel
and a squirting octopus. Park managers
Hannah and Simon are experts in family fun,
having kids of their own living on site with
them, and they are only too happy to help out
with anything you need during your stay.