For the recent Labour Day long weekend in Queensland, my boyfriend and I went on a little (romantic) getaway to Byron Bay. We have been together for over 2 years now and have only been away by ourselves, just for ourselves, once, as most of our holiday's are spent with family, so this little weekend meant loads to us and our relationship.
We decided to leave on the evening of Friday, 4 May after work so that we could wake up where we were staying. Something I love to do when I go anywhere as I absolutely cherish my mornings and don't necessarily enjoy spending them in a car.
We left Brisbane just after 5.30 pm and arrived in Byron Bay at our accomodation at 8.15 pm, with enough time to check in, slowly unpack and happily settle in.
We chose to stay just outside of the hustle and bustle of the bay in the hinterland. I had never been to the hinterland itself and actually spent time there, but I knew I would love it. I work in the centre of Brisbane City Monday to Friday, every week, so for me getting away from 'the busy', whenever I can to keep me grounded, is everything.
We stayed at the beautiful Cape Byron Retreat, which I would definitely call a luxury bed and breakfast style accomodation, nestled right away in the stunning Byron Bay hinterland. I booked a self contained cottage studio, which meant we had a king bed, kitchenette, bathroom and our very own private veranda which had hinterland views. We also had our own park right outside of our room which made coming and going private and so easy.
Our room was warmingly lit up and on the bed were two little packets of mini Byron Bay cookies, such a perfect arrival treat.
The entrance to our cottage studio. Where I was standing when I took this photo was where the car was parked, it doesn't get much better than that when it comes to convenience.
The private verander was my absolute favourite place to be at our cottage studio. Having grown up with a balcony for most of my life, sitting out there, nice and high with a cuppa in hand filled me with so much love and happiness (and nostalgia).
Everything around the retreat was so gorgeous, from large crystal geodes to all of the tropical plants in every corner you looked. Imagine reading on a warm afternoon in one of these boho style hammocks.
There were so many places around to sit and enjoy the retreat as well. Though I soon found my two favourite places which were rather private, there is a space for every personality to relish in, eat, drink and be.
It was a little too cold this time for us to jump into the pool, with only a touch of sun while we were there, the pool area was stunning.
We also had resident peacocks making their presence known on a daily basis. They were like the roosters of Byron, making their calls as the sun rose, and their personalities shone, clearly, as they most certainly didn't lack confidence when it came to humans being around.
The first location we ventured to was the cafe, Woods in Bangalow. Bangalow itself was so full of coastal country culture, that for me it was already love at first sight as we passed locals, farmers markets and cute boutiques on our way to the cafe.
Woods is a vegetarian focused cafe, with an on-trend menu of recipes that make your mouth water as you read them. The cafe is the little sister of Folk in Byron Bay, which we ventured to on Sunday. The staff were so warm welcoming into their space and incredibly friendly, everything on the menu made my long time vegetarian heart sing, and the coffee, the coffee was perfect.
My heart burst when I saw this sign, I knew we were close. Woods is nestled within a small precinct in Bangalow almost like a hidden treasure, along with a local art gallery, clothing boutique and more.
I speak about it often online and offline, but the space of where I dine for me really does make the experience.
I ordered a signature blend almond flat white.
*cheers* to more Saturday morning's like these.
My boyfriend ordered the smashed avo and I ordered the nourish bowl, both of which were beyond soul food.
The vibe of Woods was everything, it really was like being somewhere from stylish coastal glossy magazine.
After breakfast we ventured onto Crystal Castle, which is located in Mullumbimby. The drive itself to Crystal Castle was breathtaking, with lookouts and whimsical winding roads to make you swoon like you really are witnessing a country fairytale.
There is an entry fee, but when you walk through the gardens and realise the effort that has gone into creating this magical space, and the continuous maintenance it would take to keep it looking like magic, it's more than worth it. There are so many things to look at, experience and do, I was totally in my element at every turn within these blessed gardens. I already cannot wait to visit and soak it up all over again.
This is the Kalachakra World Peace Stupa, it represents universal divinity and was blessed by The Dalai Lama. This particular experience of the gardens made my vibrations within me soar as I competed the Kora Walk, which is to walk around it 3 times, turning all of the prayer columns at each step. This sacred monument most definitely felt blessed.
In short, this was a dedicated gratitude tree created by all of its visitors, and the emotion on every branch of it went straight to my soul.
The feelings of gratitude that would have went into every one of these handwritten tags completely blew me away.
We each wrote on one and carefully tied it onto the tree. How beautiful a practice to simply handwrite something meaningful and send it out into the world.
This is the 'Enchanted Cave', the largest amethyst geode ever discovered in the world. Enchanting it most certainly was, I honestly could have stared into it forever.
"This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples, no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple. The philosophy is kindness." - Tenzin Gyatso, The 14th Dalai Lama
These are known as the 'Crystal Guardians' aka the worlds tallest twin crystal geodes, and they are absolutely as magnificent as you can imagine in person (5 and a half metres tall if we want to get technically magnificent). I have known about them for a long time after seeing a lot of people visit them, they are what struck my want in the very beggining to one day visit Crystal Castle just so I could be present alongside their natural beauty.
I, being the earth child I am, took off my shoes and walked over to them barefoot, stood front and centre, grounded, fingers touching the cold crystal surfaces, eyes closed. My entire body felt their energy from the ground up, from my fingertips inward, these two magical pieces of the earth really spoke to me spiritually and I'll never forget it.
Walking through this bamboo within the gardens was like something out of a movie. Can you tell that I was in awe.
The Byron surf culture..
After our visit to Crystal Castle we headed back to Byron Bay and into the town centre. We had the most delicious late lunch of wholesome burgers (I had a vegetarian haloumi burger), then we went for a walk down to look at the beach and of course, the surf.
The perfect afternoon for it.
With my little camera I managed to capture a couple of true in the moment, moments, of the surfers.
Afternoon cuppa at the retreat..
Once back at the retreat I made a cuppa and headed down to watch the sunset, and the most beautiful sunset it was. What a day, and this was only day 1 of our getaway.
I could have danced on this fresh, green grass for hours (I kind of did, I may have even laid down on it for a moment at one point).
I don't want a lot in life, but more peaceful moments like these, I'll take more of these (please).
That afternoon I wish the sun never reached it's final resting place for the night. If I could pause that afternoon I would have, so I could experience it again and again.
Like at sunset, of a morning I loved making my cuppa and heading down the property to feel the warmth of the sun on my skin.
When we were in town on Saturday, I grabbed a cute postcard to post to my mum and dad before we left. Even though I wasn't overseas, which stereotypically is when people send post cards, it's still meaningful, as you were there, somewhere special, somewhere different. It's the little things, no matter where I am, that I know I cherish and so do my parents.
Folk, Byron Bay
For breakfast on Sunday we went to Folk, Woods big sister cafe. Folk is only a few minutes in from where you take the turn off to head into the town centre of Byron Bay, and really is an ideal location for anyone coming and going, or even passing by along the highway.
Folk, like Woods, is again a vegetarian focussed cafe. Even though these are sister cafes they have similar, but at the same time completely different vibes. Folk was warmer with cosier areas to sit and be and enjoy, where as Woods definitely had that bright and fresh morning vibe. It's the kind of cafe where I could sit and snuggle into the chairs and cushions with a coffee, a book or even my laptop for hours.
Again I ordered a signature blend almond flat white. I tend to switch between a flat white in a cup or a piccolo when I order coffee depending on how long I have to enjoy it. In the case of this getaway, I had as long as I wanted (so cup it was).
*second cheers*, I wasn't letting these special slow coffee moments slip me by.
For breakfast my boyfriend had something similar to what he had at Woods, where as I went the total opposite opting for the wholesome banana buckwheat pancakes, and let me just say that they did not disappoint on a soul food level.
Between Woods and Folk, there's no such thing as too many plants within their spaces, and I absolutely loved it.
Once again, was I in a magazine? Folk was everything I thought it would be, like Crystal Castle, this had been on my to-do list for a long time, and is most definitely on my to-do-again list all the same.
Byron Bay Community Markets
After breakfast we headed on in to the iconic Byron Bay markets, we couldn't go to Byron Bay without going to at least one of their markets. There were so many stallholders, think coffee, food, music, art, crafts, clothes, jewellery and so much more. It was like the Byron version of Eumundi (a market in Noosa, Queensland, Australia).
I absolutely love going to markets, the cheeky grin on my face says it all, and Byron's markets really were so much fun.
From the minute we arrived in Byron I knew I wasn't in the mood to go shopping, that I was purely there for the experience and the in between moments of relaxation, but when I saw these handmade pottery pieces covered in my obsession, the little ladies (ladybugs), I could not leave without one.
For anyone going to the Byron Bay markets her little pottery brand is called 'Renee Danielle Jeffery Ceramics'.
Afternoon at the retreat..
After our market outing we headed back to the retreat for an hour or so, to enjoy the landscape and to soak up our cottage studio a little more.
This really is my kind of backyard. I've never had a proper backyard, but there's no harm in dreaming big right and enjoying it when you do have it.
The fresh coastal country air, no matter how many times I headed out into the field, still blew me away. It's amazing how much better you feel compared to city living, inside and out, emotionally and physically.
This was my second favourite space in our cottage studio, from the artistic earthy rug to the grounded couches, it really did feel like a 'home' away from home.
Reading here 'Open Wide' by Melissa Ambrosini.
Iconic 'Lighthouse Walk'
We decided that after we relaxed for a little bit back at the retreat we would go and do the iconic walk up to the lighthouse. This ended up being nearly a 5km incline/decline round trip, which was actually harder than I would have thought with our fitness levels, but more than worth it. The views on the walk, well, the following photos we took during the walk will more than speak for themselves.
It was fun working out which trail we wanted to take, and of course, we had to choose the difficult ones didn't we (still worth it).
We were so blessed to have such nice weather that afternoon so that we could really enjoy the walk in all its glory.
Along with the featured photo at the start of this blog post, this photo above is my other favourite from our getaway. I still have no idea how I captured this in this way, but I'm so glad I did. For me this depicts Byron Bay perfectly.
I've always loved lighthouses, the way they guide, give hope and bring people home.
I had so much fun during the walk, I was jumping and running and dancing the whole way. Sure it probably made it an even harder walk, but I express myself through movement, my excitement shows when I dance around.
We dined in..
For our last morning of our getaway we decided that it would be nice to take advantage of the beautiful breakfast offered where we were staying at the retreat. So on Sunday we put in our personalised breakfast orders, and at 8.00 am on Monday morning, we were completely spoilt, and what's better we only had to walk down a set of stairs.
One of my breakfast choices was muesli, yoghurt and fresh berries, a simple but soulful breakfast treat.
We also shared a fresh fruit platter. I had forgotten how nice it is to have such beautiful fresh fruit as part of a breakfast.
After we enjoyed the muesli and fruit, we were greeted with our personalised hot breakfasts. This is my absolute favourite kind of hot breakfast (seriously how good is this spread).
To drink we had a plunger full of beautiful, fresh perculated coffee with our choice of milk to add to it.
I could get use to this.
This little getaway in Byron Bay was just what we needed. We left with hearts full of love and souls full of gratitude. Every moment that we were away all I could think was, wow, how blessed we are to be able to do something like this, experience a place like this, in a country that we get to call home.
We most definitely will be back, in fact, hopefully later this year. From the retreat to the crystals and everything in between, I would lock in the exact same itinerary in a heartbeat, it to me was getaway perfection.
I hope you enjoyed my very first blog post in my new category of 'Travel'. Travel doesn't have to be far from home, to be a great adventure.
All my love,