Published in Senior Traveller, May 2006.
By Christine Salins
The Byron at Byron, a resort and spa which opened about 18 months ago just outside ofByronBayon the NSW far north coast, has been designed as an eco-friendly resort.
The 92 accommodation units blend effortlessly with the rainforest surrounding them, the resort has recycling, composting and water saving features, and a huge amount of landscaping and restoration has been done to improve the ecological diversity of the 17ha site.
The $40 million development hasn’t been without its critics. Ever since plans for it were first put forward by retail giant Gerry Harvey, of Harvey Norman fame, it faced stumbling blocks with the local council. Even today, its superb restaurant Wild at Byron is open only to in-house guests because the council has not approved its opening to a wider audience.
The resort’s managers, John and Lyn Parche, expect this latest battle to be resolved shortly so that chef Matthew Wild’s food can be given the attention it deserves.
ByronBayhas long had an active Green movement, at least since the early 1990s when Club Med bought land in the area to build a resort, sparking a community outcry. The Byron at Byron development faced numerous issues with its plans for the sensitive coastal strip nearTallowBeach.
The site was degraded and overgrown with weeds whenHarveybought it. He brought in a team of landscape designers and ecological restorers to work on the project, introducing wildlife corridors and encouraging the naturalness of the area by avoiding the introduction of non-native plants.
The energy-efficient accommodation units are comfortable and luxurious, with wide covered verandahs, galley kitchen, king-sized beds, plasma screen television and a stylish free-standing bathtub.
The resort is a beautiful place to unwind, with its lush rainforest setting, soothing water features and rich timbers. A boardwalk loops around the resort and it’s a 10-minute stroll through the rainforest to quiet and unspoilt Tallow Beach.
As well as a pool, gym and tennis court, there is a luxurious day spa using natural Coral Moon products. The six treatment rooms include a private couples room with sunken Roman bath. There is also aVichyshower, steam room and outdoor relaxation area available for use before or after treatments. Healthy spa cuisine can be served on a private balcony.
Located across the road from the Byron Bay Golf Club, the resort is five minutes’ drive from Byron Bay township, which has a curious mix of boutiques, shops and galleries thanks to its diverse population of alternative lifestylers, surfers, backpackers, family holidaymakers and wealthy sea-changers.
Byron Bay is Australia’s most easterly point and was once a whaling station. From July to October, you can stand on the headland near the historic Cape Byron Lighthouse and see the whales pass on their annual migration north.
Active holiday makers can enjoy kayaking with dolphins, scuba diving, skydiving or horse riding on the beach. There are some good restaurants like Fins, Dish and Rae’s on Watego’s, weekend markets and attractions such as a macadamia farm and tea tree plantation.
Nearby townships such as Bangalow, Uki, Kingscliff and Murwillumbah are also worth a visit. Byron Bay is 50 minutes’ drive from Coolangatta Airport or 20 minutes’ drive from Ballina-Byron Airport.
The Byron at Byron Resort & Spa: +61-1300 554 362 or www.thebyronatbyron.com.au
Byron Visitor Centre: +61 (2) 6680 8558 or www.byronbay.com
© Christine Salins