Or “The Squirrel Trail”
Byron Bay is without a doubt one of the most beautiful destinations to visit in Australia. Whether you are taken back by its sheer beauty, the drumming circles at the wreck for sunset, the waves, the music, art or the bunch of eccentric characters this wonderful town attracts, you will be hooked. Having lived here for a number of years I have noticed that the ‘hipster’ is population growing, a trend that will continually amuse me and I mean this in a completely endearing way because let’s face it we all aspire to be a little cool from time to time.
The modern day hipster is something I could only refer to as a re-imagining of Jack Kerouacs ‘Beat Generation’. They are the part hippy, part hobo that romanticise the concept of non-conforming.
How to be a Hipster:
Before I take you on this guided tour there are few things you need to know about being a hipster. Chia Seeds, Kale, Quinoa, Organic and Raw are all words that should become part of your daily vocabulary. Fashion is just as important as your taste in music and the type of milk that you drink; shopping at vintage stores will become a part of your daily routine. But being a hipster isn’t only about wearing quirky band tees or sporting the ‘I woke up like this hair do’ or for that matter your stance on veganism. Being a hipster or a ‘squirrel’, Byron Bay’s slang word for them, requires you to visit all the hipster hotspots, places where felt hats will congregate and Instagram feeds will be teaming with beautiful people in floppy hats. Hipsters have set a standard. Retro is cool again. Different is fitting in and caring is the 21st century version of not caring.
So now you know how to be a hipster – here are the best places for you to hangout to meet more of your kind…
The Top Ten Hipster Hangouts
1. Roadhouse – 6-142 Bangalow Road, Byron Bay
The Roadhouse is the ultimate hipster hangout. Their guiding mission: ‘We dedicate our lives to sourcing the highest grade naturally-grown local produce, with which we create foods and elixirs to thrive.’ Says it all right? The food here is a paleo haven. You will be rubbing shoulders with the cool kids from 6am – 11pm, 7 days a week. In this bustling café, the walls are lined with whisky brands you wouldn’t have even dreamed of having the chance to try. Be prepared to drop some cash on drinks that will be served from a jam jar and meals on wooden chopping boards, apparently glasses just don’t cut it any more. Kick-start your morning here with their famous buttered coffee and finish with a whisky in the wee hours. You may also want to heavily consider your choice of outfit, there are many hipster hangouts you can go to as a civilian but this is not one of them. Forget your felt hat and risk feeling like you rocked up to a party you weren’t invited to.
2. Naked Treaties Raw food bar in 2/3 Marvel Street:
Naked Treaties or Guilt free naughties as it’s otherwise referred to as, is the absolute Mecca for your hipster appetite. Your bank account may suffer a little at the prices but can you put a price on health? Apparently you can but with smoothie names such as ‘I am abundant’, ‘I am beautiful’ and my personal favourite ‘I am amazeballs’, how could you resist? Now try saying that with a straight face. Not only will you be glowing inside and out but you will also be giving yourself a daily dose of positive affirmation! GO YOU!
This café is 100% raw and certified organic with an earthy vibrant vibe. The entire café is decorated with affirmations, crystal jewellery flyers out the front advertising yoga retreats and meditation workshop which Is an accurate indication of their philosophy and clientèle, There is a real sense of community here and a perfect place for you to learn some hipster yoga terms.
3. Byron Farmers Markets on Butler Street
If you’re making the transition into the hipstified planet then you better hope that you are up to speed with your local organic produce because this will become your new Woolworths. These markets are held every Thursday morning until noon. The farmers markets are a gathering for the most colourful and eccentric types. Make sure you are shoeless, wearing a beautiful flowy fabric of some-sort AND for the love of god DO NOT turn up without your environmentally friendly shopping bag unless you wish to be scorned by everyone. Keep the hair-do casual, the “bed look,” long unkempt hair, that resists any attempts to stay flat without chemicals is a perfectly acceptable look here. The stall holders are always very helpful and love to have a chat about their produce, a great place for good coffee too. Make sure you hunt down the organic Doughnut store, it is the only place you will be able to purchase Byron’s organic and completely delectable doughnuts from. And if you’re lucky enough you will often spot Byron Bay’s very own dancing star Tommy Franklin, this guy knows how to bring the atmosphere and sure knows how to spread the salty rain.
4. Shop at Spell: 1, 1 Marvel Street, Byron Bay
If you are visiting Byron Bay it would be an absolute crime not to shop at Spell. Not only does it have some of the most beautiful and original prints and jumpsuits but it is world famous to many celebrities, meaning your cool status can only sky rocket. Spell has an eclectic collection of bohemian clothing and home-wares. A style that is completely different to most mainstream stores. Spell dictated the quintessential ‘lady hipster’ in Byron. The Idea of spell clothing is feeling like you’re at a festival every day – and hipsters love festivals! A festival makes a hipster feel like they’re on an adventure and the only thing a hipster loves more than an adventure – is an adventure that involves, drugs, music and maybe some well un-maintained man-beards.
5. The Northern Bar and Restaurant: 35-43 Johnson Street
Magnificently renovated and open 7 Days a week for Lunch and Dinner, this squirrel hot spot features the latest live music acts. Head out into the backroom to witness some long – haired guys on the dance floor swaying to psychadelic guitar riffs. Want to look like a true local? This is where you need to be at approximately 10pm on a Saturday night. The Northern is the most hip congregation for sharing a local ale or two and ultimately a great place to jam out to some good music. They serve Quinoa vodka here I assume this still won’t assist in eradicating a hangover but hey it’s organic so give it a shot. You will often find your enlightenment on the back of the toilet door so if you’re not exactly feeling the night and need a little pick me up be sure to pay a visit to the toilet. The toilet is also a great place to practice some of the lingo you have picked up, generally about the surf. Men this one’s for you if you’re trying to pick up a hipster chick then you had better hope that you’re sporting a man bun with an incredibly bushy beard otherwise no chance sorry buddy!
6. The Pass: Surf Break, Clarkes Beach
The Pass lies directly near the world famous lighthouse and is part of the beautiful Arakwal National Park it is a world class longboard wave that in the 60’s put Byron on the map for many frothing wave riders. It is known worldwide amongst the surf culture as the place to be whether you’re a surfer, photographer, hipstified retro board rider or a hipster mum looking for a safe place for the grommies to frolic. Most hipsters will finish there day at the pass, before heading to a designated alcohol dispensary. If you don’t Instagram the sunset down here, you will not be allowed into the Roadhouse. It is a pre-requisite. The pass is also a good spot for hipster love making at the end of a raging night.
7. The Lighthouse:
The Byron Bay Lighthouse is one of the most Iconic attractions to visit and enjoy the panoramic views of Byron. In the winter months you might be lucky enough to see the magnificent humpback whales on their migration. Very rarely will you do the lighthouse walk without spotting a Australian species of some kind.
It is in fact a very conflicting hipster hot spot as it is also a very mainstream destination with other tourists, as you can imagine, flocking there in large numbers, which generally a hipster will not approve of. There are certain times it is quite hipster to go to the lighthouse, the most popular being sunrise. Sunrise is a very difficult time for most hipsters but once or twice a year they make the effort for the sake of Instagram or to prove a point to the right hipster guy/girl they are trying to impress.
8. The Wreck
The Wreck comes in at a close second best location other than the lighthouse for the insty sunset shot grab your stone and wood, beer, a fresh pack of rollies and you will fit right in amongst your other fellow hipsters. Most days on this beach at sunset you will be able to watch and maybe even join in on Byron Bay’s famous drumming circle. It attracts a great crowd and is impossible not to be vibing on this true Byron spirit event.
9. Dallwood waterfalls, Alstonville
Dallwood falls located just near Alstonville is about a half an hour drive from Byron, and a perfect destination if you are seeking some tranquillity after a heavy night of binge drinking quinoa vodka at the Northern. This is the perfect place to dust off the cob webs, whack on your floppy hat and get snap happy, by now you should have a pretty rocking following. If you’re feeling daring you can do the cliff jump this however I do not advise instead there is the option to climb down and float in the waterhole and take in the amazing scenery of bushland and cliff faces.
10. Byron Yoga Centre , 6 Byron Street
Byron is a very well known location for healing and rejuvenating there are old tales about it’s healing properties but I can neither confirm nor deny these tales so for now they will remain tales. There is no better way to heal the body and mind after your bender weekend of trying to keep up with the hipsters then heading to the Byron Yoga centre. They offer daily yoga classes of diverse styles as well as workshops. Yoga is a lot about giving and receiving (no sexual innuendo intended) there style and approach is Purna Yoga. The class timetables are available online and do change regularly. It is impossible for me to talk about yoga and not touch on the subject of taking selfies in human like pretzel contortionist poses around the world otherwise known as Yoga. What is this!?