How to visit Byron Bay on a budget
Discover a free history tour
You’ve probably heard of the Cape Byron Walking Track, an ultra-scenic 3.7km trail looping around Australia’s most easterly point. But did you know this popular pathway also forms part of the Byron Bay History Trail? Recently installed by the Byron Bay Historical Society, the trail (which officially begins at the Byron Bay Surf Club) is dotted with 20 markers, each with a unique QR code. Simply download a QR code scanner on your smartphone and discover a fascinating chapter of Byron’s history at every stop.
Play a round of lawn bowls
For a cheap, fun and quintessentially Australian way to socialise, look no further than the local ‘bowlo’, where you can try a new sport while sipping a beer. The centrally located Byron Bay Bowling Club offers barefoot bowls every day of the week for just $10 per person. All you need is a partner, and a little patience – they say lawn bowls only takes a minute to learn, but a lifetime to master. Visitors are also welcome to join social bowls competitions at 1pm on Thursdays and Saturdays and there’s a happy hour on Friday afternoon, but drinks always cost less than you’ll pay at a local pub.
Explore local markets
Browsing won’t cost you a cent at Byron’s markets, which typically also come with free entertainment. Time your visit for the first Sunday of the month to catch the Byron Community Market. Currently held on the Main Beach foreshore, Byron’s original market features an eclectic collection of stalls proffering everything from fashion to foodie treats. Also held in this location is the Byron Beachside Market, a quarterly artisan market showcasing goods made, baked, sewed or grown by stallholders. On Saturdays from 4-9pm (October to April) the Railway Park sets the stage for the Byron Twilight Market, while the Byron Farmers Market held year-round on Thursday mornings in the Butler Street Reserve is the place to stock up on fresh local produce, or simply soak up the local vibe.
Honourable mention: Bangalow Market (held on the 4th Sunday of each month in the nearby town of Bangalow).
Connect with local Aboriginal culture
Byron Bay’s Traditional Owners, The Arakwal people of the Bundjalung Nation, have a connection to this corner of the continent dating back at least 22,000 years. To dive deeper into their rich history and culture, you’ll need to spend time with someone like Arakwal Bundjalung woman Delta Kay, who shares knowledge and stories passed down by her ancestors over countless generations on her fascinating walking tours. You’ll also learn about local bush foods, natural medicines, sacred sites, tools, weapons and artefacts, and get a chance to sample bush tucker. Topped off with a warming bush tea, the $65 tour fee feels like a bargain.
Go for a scenic drive
If you’re visiting Byron with your own wheels, a fun day out exploring the picturesque Byron hinterland needn’t cost much more than a tank of petrol. Top stops include the villages of Bangalow, Newrybar, Federal and Nightcap National Park; look out for farmgate stalls selling produce along the way. If you’d rather explore the coast, head north to enjoy the river, beaches and restaurants of Brunswick Heads, perhaps ducking inland to check out Mullumbimby. Or head south to stroll the short but scenic coastal walking track at Broken Head before taking a restorative dip in Lennox Head’s tea tree-stained Lake Ainsworth.
Image: Destination NSW
Sign up for a cellar door tour
Turn a drink into a memorable experience and sip it from the source while learning how it was made. Byron’s most wallet-friendly cellar door experience is hosted by the Lord Byron Distillery, where $12 gets you a 20-minute insight into the operations of the zero-waste, renewable energy powered distillery, as well as a tasting flight of three products. Nearby, iconic local beer brand Stone & Wood’s brewery tour ($40) is a more in-depth experience, kicking off with a fresh beer and ending with a guided tasting of five brews. Just out of town, Cape Byron Distillery’s gin-tasting tour ($40) immerses you in the subtropical rainforest regenerated by the property’s family owners (with a gin and tonic in-hand) before heading back to the distillery for a guided tasting. Or drop in for their whisky tour ($28).
Image: Destination NSW
Enjoy free live music
Byron is renowned for its busking scene, with its most famous graduate – global pop sensation Tones And I – still known to drop by to host a free performance in the beachfront Denning Park from time to time. Buskers often pitch up here on weekend afternoons during the summertime, making it the perfect spot to relax with a budget picnic. You can usually also find a busker or three performing on the main street (Jonson Street) on weekend nights as well as weekdays during holiday periods. At the top of the street, the Beach Hotel also regularly hosts free live music.
Get a taste for Byron’s artisanal ice cream
You don’t need to splash cash at a fancy restaurant to enjoy a memorable meal (alright, snack) in Byron, especially if you love artisanal ice cream. Kick of a DIY ice-cream tour at Frankie’s Gelato, where the Bay’s newest gelateria offers refreshing flavour combinations like blood orange and basil sorbetto. Bella Rosa ramps up the decadence factor with scoops of activated almond toffee and coffee crème available alongside more familiar flavours, while In The Pink, Byron’s original homemade ice-cream parlour, rotates 100 flavours, with a local favourites including the soy hazelnut and creamy mango macadamia. Treat yourself to small-batch, gut-health focused ice cream showcasing native ingredients at Natural Ice-Cream Australia in Brunswick Heads, or track down the roving Benilato cart for authentic Italian gelato.
Image: Destination NSW
Ready to lock in your budget Byron adventure? Pick from YHA Cape Byron and YHA Byron Bay and enjoy immaculate vibes for less.
Words: Sarah Reid
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