If you are staying in Byron Bay, there are some great things to do if you are in the mood to explore the area, one of these being to visit the 'biggest little town in Australia' - Mullumbimby!
Mullumbimby is just 20 minutes drive north from Byron Bay. Along with Byron Bay and Nimbin, Mullumbimby embraced a counter culture back in the 70's, but was very low key about it. Locally the town is known as Mullum. Back in the day, this town grew weed so potent it was known as Mullum Madness!
Mullumbimby is a scenic little village. Nestled in the midst of verdant cane fields with Mount Chincogan looming in the background, it makes for a very scenic drive into town. Also striking, when you get to the first roundabout, is the large fig tree, covered in hand made multi-coloured knit wear! Testament that this really is an alternative community.
Don't be discouraged once you arrive that it feels like a one-horse-town with not much action, this is part of the charm. Start your day in one of the cafe's that serve world class coffee, quite often locally grown too. Indulge in some people watching, you seriously won't be disappointed, you will soon feel like you are in a cosmopolitan location anywhere in the world, because the locals are anything but dull. Keep your eye out for Shanti Ananda, often seen dressed in vivid pink, blue or red formal suits, topped with a black and gold sombrero, a dotty tie and sporting enough bling to make any LA rapper envious.
Once you wander around the shops, you will realise that these are not the usual country town goods on offer in most of outback Australia. There is great alternative clothing on sale, craft and art work and a smattering of galleries interspersed with the shops.
If yoga or meditation is your scene, there are about six centrally located studios. Given that the population of 'Mullum' is 3,220 people, that says something. That means for every 536 people there is a local yoga centre! There are multiple spa's as well, even a wellness spa. This is certainly the place to get your Chakra back in order.
Don't despair if you find the choice bamboozles you, try Kiva Spa. Located right in town – doh! what isn't? This tranquil hideaway is snuggled in amongst a gorgeous bamboo garden which oozes Asian tranquility. More a bathhouse than a spa, there are a choice of jacuzzis to lounge around in. The draw card for me is the wood fired sauna, which is roomy enough to bend a few yoga poses, plus it has piped in music; most likely to include sitar, but hey... After leaving the sauna, there is an icy cold plunge pool with a huge shower head dripping icy cold drops, not to be missed. Kiva Spa is $25.00 for one hour bathhouse use, so well within a backpackers budget. There are also massage and beauty treatments that are available, if you really want to treat yourself.
Crystal Castle is a regional attraction located just a few kilometres outside of Mullumbimby. It features a lot of, well... crystals! They are many and varied and from all over the world, plus there is a great selection of jewellery. There is also a Buddha walk and a Rainforest Walk. The gardens are just gorgeous, and well worth a stroll around, one of the bamboo groves will blow your mind. There are also daily Buddhist meditations and teachings, and mandalas the monks are working on or, if finished, on display. There is an entry charge to get into Crystal Castle (less than $20)
Maybe this is the biggest little town ever! – and did I mention this is Iggy Azalea's hometown? Whatever the title or accolades, Mullumbimby is a great day out if you are visiting Byron Bay. It will give you a feel of what Byron Bay was like back in the day, before it became a mega tourist destination. So don't be afraid to take a step back in time, this is a great way to get a feel of the local environment and see what the region is really about.