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While some of our haven readers are lucky to call Byron Bay home, for many of us, Byron is that delightful day trip or holiday spot, down the M1 and left into Ewingsdale Road. While the summer holidays will mean there are more people there than ever, don’t let that dissuade you.

It’s true what they say – Byron Bay has changed. There are parking meters for one thing, but it’s the huge volume of tourists that make the biggest dent on the once addictive ‘Byron vibe’. And yet, it’s still Byron and there’s still magic to be found, if you can only manage your pram, puppy and nappy bag on the crowded streets!

Here is my Top 5 list of ways to enjoy Byron Bay with your family this summer break:

1. STAY OUT OF TOWN

We’re calling it: the newly re-developed BIG4 Byron Holiday Park is the place to stay for families. Catering for happy campers through to hip coffee connoisseurs, the park offers lovely sites for tents or caravans and even lovelier family cabins and villas. The two-bedroom ‘Premium Villas’ were our hot pick as an ideal home away from home (separate laundry with washer AND dryer and undercover parking? Yes please!). And best of all, it’s ‘small dog’ friendly – just check your breed is permitted before booking. The dog-friendly cabins are gorgeous and clean for a true family holiday – pooch in tow.

the-farm-byron-bay-cowThe onsite café ‘Spoke’ does mean burgers including a pork belly combination I’ll be going back for. It’s an ambient chill-out spot with blankets on the lawn so people can relax, eat and enjoy the great coffee. With direct access through Tallow Creek water reserve to the dog-friendly Tallows Beach (practically deserted in comparison to Byron’s Main Beach), a bright clean on-site swimming pool, playground where all the kids in the park converge around dinner time for impromptu games of ‘Chasey’ and a coop of lovely chickens providing fresh eggs for purchase by guests, BIG4 Byron Holiday Park really lives up to its promises.

5-37 Broken Head Road, Byron Bay NSW 2481
Phone 02 6685 6751
Visit www.byronholidayspark.com.au

2. WALK OR BIKE IT

About that paid parking in Byron Bay’s main streets – at an average of $3 per hour, it’s really not going to break the holiday budget, but there is a 4-hour limit to many parks, with a few exceptions (try the Middleton Street carpark for unlimited metered parking).

As you’re in holiday mode however, why not make the most of Byron’s beautiful bike paths and pram-friendly footpaths to take you in, out and around town, (or buses if it all goes pear shaped). It’s a great way to be ‘Byron-friendly’. Ensure each member of the family has a backpack with the essentials – snacks, water, sunscreen – and let the road take you where you want to go. It’s a great way to holiday on ‘Bryon Time’.

3. PLAN YOUR MEALS

3-pork-belly-burger-goodness-at-spoke-byron-holiday-parkOn average, we found it difficult to feed a family of four for less than $60 per meal in Byron Bay. Burgers average $12-$18, smoothies are hitting the $8.50 mark, and even fish and chips at the landmark ‘Fishmongers’ are by no means a cheap meal. There are some good stores (even Aldi!) and lots of little healthy grocery-style outlets so bring your food with you or do a family food shop when you get there. Just ensure your accommodation allows you to self-cater and warn the kids in advance – one treat per day, and the rest of the meals as mum offers up! While you can be uber-organised, of course you will eat out. Here are some of our top spots:

Healthy and delicious vegetarian

  • The Cardamom Pod: 8/7 Lawson St
  • Heart and Halo: Shop 4/14 Middleton Street
  • Combi: Shop 5b/21-25 Fletcher St

Frozen treats

  • Bella Rosa gelataria and espresso bar: 11 Jonson Street
  • In the Pink: 20A Jonson Street (and served at the Byron Lighthouse)
  • Goodies Juice Bar: 20 Jonson Street

International yumminess

  • Traditional Thai: 2 Fletcher Street
  • Miss Margharita: 2 Jonson Street
  • Legend Pizza: 90-96 Johnson St

4. CHOOSE YOUR DAYS/TIMES

No matter what’s on your ‘must-do’ list for Byron, you won’t be enjoying it alone – not this summer, sorry! However some times are still less busy than others. If you can get up before the birds to experience the Cape Byron walk at sunrise you may miss some of the crowds which peak around sunset. And understandably so. This incredible walk to the tip of Australia’s most Easterly point is pram-friendly and that view will never be too crowded for me.

The Farm at Byron Bay is busy almost all day every day thanks to the popularity of its bakery, coffee, restaurant and animals, but the staff are efficient so don’t let the long queues put you off. Their Portuguese custard tarts and cinnamon donuts are so worth the wait. The Farm is also dog-friendly, as long as your four-footed one is kept on a leash. You can literally spend a whole day here if you choose, wandering around at leisure, playing frisbee on ‘the green’, and drinking more chai lattes. Book a Farm Kids tour with Trudy in advance and let your little ones learn about organic farming, making butter, keeping bees or other essential eco-life skills.

5. MAKE TIME TO CHILL OUT

Yes, there’s plenty to do and see. But this is Byron. It will all wait for you. So schedule ‘chill time’ into every day – a late afternoon snooze at the beach as the temperature cools down, a cosy snuggle morning at your accommodation with a book or movie, or a morning by the pool. Make a little thing, like an afternoon sorbet (fine, an Acai bowl!), a real occasion you and the family savour. That way, you’ll re-connect with your family and leave Byron feeling like you just had a real holiday.

Visit www.visitbyronbay.com

Words: Carla Adams

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haven is all about family, life and style in Brisbane's inner city suburbs, the Gold Coast, south to Byron Bay. We have been keeping parents in the know for over eight years, with fun, fresh and helpful stories that they can take tips from or treasure in their own library.