Byron Bay: A serene destination in Australia to recharge your senses


“This place has changed my life”, said Karen a French woman who almost two decades ago landed here from France and since then made Byron Bay, Australia’s most easterly point, her home. An author of several books, she currently lives at this spectacular seafront location promoting happiness and wellbeing through the practice of meditation, mindfulness and self-development. “There is perhaps a kind healing energy that fills the air here and aids to soothe restless minds and souls”, she said this at the end a meditation lesson session with me during my recent visit to the sought after east coast destination. (Also read: Goa to Darjeeling: Top 5 destinations in India you must visit this holiday season)

It was not at all difficult for me to grab the essence of her saying as soon as I started browsing the locale. I was able to discover several avenues available to recharge mind, body and soul and seize a new definition to life.

Dramatic coastline(Sandip Hor)
Dramatic coastline(Sandip Hor)

Truly all the goodness from the domain can’t be achieved just from a short stay but surely they can trigger a change. The place is full of hubs offering health and wellbeing routines from regular meditation classes, yoga practices and pilate lessons to Ayurveda treatments, haute-health remedies and detox therapies to clean and revitalise one’s inner shape. Expert practitioners admit that most of these rituals have roots in India, in particular yoga which was born there millenniums ago.

Besides yoga, various meditation techniques taught here also come from India. Karen follows the techniques of Vipassana meditation which originated 2500 years ago in the sub-continent. The Osho meditation routine which was once promoted worldwide by the controversial Indian guru Bhagwan Rajneesh is still practised here by the sannyasins who are his followers. After their guru’s death in 1990, the cult has faded and some of his Aussie devotees grouped here. They discreetly live in a shared community property and continue inspiring the Osho meditation. They even invite outsiders to join them for mediation sessions every Saturday evenings.

Yoga on Byron Bay beach(Sandip Hor)
Yoga on Byron Bay beach(Sandip Hor)

Six decades ago Byron Bay was just a sleeping village edged with pristine white sandy beaches. The natural breaks of the rolling waves attracted the surfers and soon became a popular den for them. The place then had a sixty’s Goa like image with unharmed beaches, shabby beachside accommodation, and fresh seafood and supposedly plenty of marijuana, all engulfed by a laid back environment. This drew attention of the hippies who loved Goa and many of them moved in to live a life different to rest of the world. Some of them can be seen at the weekly Farmer’s Markets – a perfect venue to meet friendly locals and get a taste of their bohemian lifestyle pattern.

Residents from the seventies hippie era(Sandip Hor)
Residents from the seventies hippie era(Sandip Hor)

“This place has changed my life”, said Karen a French woman who almost two decades ago landed here from France and since then made Byron Bay, Australia’s most easterly point, her home. An author of several books, she currently lives at this spectacular seafront location promoting happiness and wellbeing through the practice of meditation, mindfulness and self-development. “There is perhaps a kind healing energy that fills the air here and aids to soothe restless minds and souls”, she said this at the end a meditation lesson session with me during my recent visit to the sought after east coast destination. (Also read: Goa to Darjeeling: Top 5 destinations in India you must visit this holiday season)

It was not at all difficult for me to grab the essence of her saying as soon as I started browsing the locale. I was able to discover several avenues available to recharge mind, body and soul and seize a new definition to life.

Truly all the goodness from the domain can’t be achieved just from a short stay but surely they can trigger a change. The place is full of hubs offering health and wellbeing routines from regular meditation classes, yoga practices and pilate lessons to Ayurveda treatments, haute-health remedies and detox therapies to clean and revitalise one’s inner shape. Expert practitioners admit that most of these rituals have roots in India, in particular yoga which was born there millenniums ago.

Besides yoga, various meditation techniques taught here also come from India. Karen follows the techniques of Vipassana meditation which originated 2500 years ago in the sub-continent. The Osho meditation routine which was once promoted worldwide by the controversial Indian guru Bhagwan Rajneesh is still practised here by the sannyasins who are his followers. After their guru’s death in 1990, the cult has faded and some of his Aussie devotees grouped here. They discreetly live in a shared community property and continue inspiring the Osho meditation. They even invite outsiders to join them for mediation sessions every Saturday evenings.

Six decades ago Byron Bay was just a sleeping village edged with pristine white sandy beaches. The natural breaks of the rolling waves attracted the surfers and soon became a popular den for them. The place then had a sixty’s Goa like image with unharmed beaches, shabby beachside accommodation, and fresh seafood and supposedly plenty of marijuana, all engulfed by a laid back environment. This drew attention of the hippies who loved Goa and many of them moved in to live a life different to rest of the world. Some of them can be seen at the weekly Farmer’s Markets – a perfect venue to meet friendly locals and get a taste of their bohemian lifestyle pattern.

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At one of these marketplaces, I met John and Dave who were buying betel leaves or paan from a stall. I could spot them as hippies by their long dreadlocked hair, laid-back look, tie-dye shirts and barefoot. Seeing me wandering, they guessed me to be of Indian origin. So, they came forward, greeted me with a namaste, said they spent many years in Rishikesh and then Goa and finally asked if I could spare a few dollars for them. That plea was a surprise for me as such a request is pretty uncommon in Australia.

From these multiple findings and experiences, I could sense a strong flavor of Indianism hidden in the area, ‘Bombay to Byron’ is the name of a popular Indian restaurant that appealed to me as a reflection of that. ‘Daughter in Law’ is another Indian eatery doing good business with local curry lovers and visitors alike.

Byron Bay and surrounding area belongs to the Bandjalung indigenous people. Their name for the domain is Cavanbah meaning the ‘meeting place’. British explorer Captain James Cook who dotted Australia on the world map named it Cape Byron after the famous circumnavigator of the world John Byron who was the grandfather of poet Lord Byron.

The destination still remains as a gathering place for people from everywhere keen for a short, long or a permanent stay. After the surfers and the hippies, the place drew notice of the nation’s barons who moved in to enjoy the spectacular vista from the balcony of their multi-million dollar mansions and make Byron Bay one of Australia’s most up-market residential area.

Today the thriving local community comprise of both the ‘hippies’ and the ‘yuppies’ and includes wellness seekers, yoga practitioners, backpackers, musicians, artists and celebrities, most famous is Hollywood star Chris Hemsworth.

Nature plays a vital role for maximum wellness and it’s hard to beat Byron Bay on that. Edged with myriad of white-sand beaches shaking hands with the lush green hinterland inland, Byron’s natural setting is a healer by itself.

Wellness treatment at Crystalbrook Byron(Sandip Hor)
Wellness treatment at Crystalbrook Byron(Sandip Hor)

“While playing with sea and sand under the sun diverts mind from everything else, walking through the serene and shady rainforests and dipping body into a swimming hole at the bottom of a waterfall creates some magical healing effects”, many locals and visitors stated me.

Most accommodation outlets also have wellness built into their framework by offering yoga and meditation lessons and various therapeutic treatments. At Crystalbrook Byron– a luxury resort – a deep breath of clean rainforest air is an admirable way to begin a soothing escape. Their 92 suites are all dotted inside 45 acres of subtropical vegetation where birds sing in the morning to wake up guests. The resort’s wellness enchantments revolve around daily yoga sessions, swimming in an elegant infinity pool, luxurious spa treatments and healthy cuisine options at the in-house restaurants, all made from fresh local produces.

Crystal bowls that create healing sound(Sandip Hor)
Crystal bowls that create healing sound(Sandip Hor)

Wellness also extends into Byron’s key touristy sites, like the crystal sound healing – a meditation experience gained while listening to the amazing chain of sounds resonated by beating crystal bowls of different sizes. This is offered by an expert musician at the Crystal Castle – a unique attraction of the domain that showcases several crystal geodes all laid inside a tranquil garden adorned with statues of Buddha, Ganesh and Lakshmi.

Horseride along the seashore(Sandip Hor)
Horseride along the seashore(Sandip Hor)

Besides healthy indulgences , Byron Bay offers a myriad of exciting physical things to do from the hot air balloon ride to see the first rays of the rising sun tinting the land below, galloping on a horse back along the coastline to discover how the sun dips into the sea, kayaking alongside dolphins on the bay waters, wandering around the Cape Byron Lighthouse an iconic landmark of the area and swimming at the bottom of the gushing Minyon or Killen Falls or to simply do nothing other than lazing off at the Main Beach followed by a cocktail at the famous Beach Hotel.

Like every other visitor, I left Byron Bay with a blissful mind and a good appreciation of why it’s often referred to as the nation’s ‘wellness capital’.



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