June 1 not only marked the official start of Winter, but equally, the day when some COVID-19 restrictions were finally lifted on travel anywhere across New South Wales for recreation and holiday purposes.
This auspicious date also sees the reopening of accommodation venues, galleries, museums, libraries, tourist attractions, national parks, camping sites and up to 50 patrons in pubs, clubs, cafes and restaurants, provided of course, strict protocols are adhered to, including maintaining social distancing and good hygiene practises, behaviour which is now second nature to us all.
Without a scintilla of doubt, many things will not return topre-Coronavirus days for a long time to come, including tourism. While our international borders remain closed for the foreseeable future, with the possible exception of a leave pass for our Kiwi cousins, and perhaps a few other regional countries, domestic travel will become even more vital to the survival and prosperity of industry operators and the economy like never before.
If you are mulling over where to head for your next much awaited getaway, surely you can’t go passed picture perfect Byron Bay and, with some state borders still closed, including north of the Tweed, there will be even more room for social distancing and hardly a Queenslander in sight.
Byron Bay, with its characteristic pristine, clean green environment and host to world renowned festivals, along with the odd celebrity, is well known to many Australians, nonetheless, we sometimes forget just how magnificent our own backyard is, in that quest for travel to a far off exotic destination.
When we look around the world today, that word exotic is not so appealing and gives us pause to appreciate what we have here at home.
Winter also kicks off the whale watching season and albeit with some restrictions remaining in place, the tour operators are up and running again, however, if you would rather stay on terra firma, you can still spot these imposing but beautiful creatures and other marine wildlife from vantage points around town.
Although the virus may have brought our lives to a grinding halt, it had no chance with mother nature as nothing, not even border closures nor lockdown restrictions could stop the whales from gracing our oceans on their migration north and in the process, bring us so much pleasure and wonderment.
With most of us having been confined to the boundaries of our homes, or worse, an apartment without a backyard or balcony, for sometime, getting out and about is like a down payment on Christmas arriving early and Byron Bay offers the would-be visitor optimal use of their regained freedom.
Just imagine yourself walking on one of the unrivalled beaches that backdrop this vibrant east coast town bathed in glorious sunshine, or taking a leisurely stroll through the Byron Bay hinterland just west of the town knowing that after you have worked up a voracious appetite, the choice of eateries and locally inspired beverages, including craft beer, to indulge your tastebuds and quench your thirst, is simply endless.
Whilst visiting Byron, don’t forget to make a pit stop at the iconic lighthouse, authentic Farmers’ Markets, Wildlife Sanctuary, the nearby unique property known as The Farm, one of the many art, craft and photographic galleries and studios and the downtown, boutique shopping precinct.
For the energetic, you could try your hand at the likes of kayaking, snorkelling, surfing and bike riding and for the adventurous types who are not afraid of heights, a hot air balloon flight would certainly be an experience to remember.
If your visit to Byron requires overnight accommodation and ideally, it should, I unreservedly and unashamedly recommend the luxury appointed Byron Bay Beach Houses.
Situated plumb in the centre of town overlooking the beach, these self contained houses with their high end appliances and fully equipped kitchens are the perfect answer when you want to maintain social distancing, yet enjoy all the trappings of a great holiday destination.
Of course, the chef in you can also take a holiday by ordering in from one of the many dining out establishments and takeaways in town and, with a state of the art home entertainment system at your fingertips, you won’t miss a minute of the footy from the comfort and warmth of your lounge, and a very nice one at that.
With everyone now so conscious of hygiene, the owners of the beach houses have ensured their cleaners not only meet the health authorities rigid requirements, but are also very aware of mitigating their environmental footprint using only products that are both kind to you and nature.
Finally, for peace of mind, this must stay in accommodation is stocked with hand sanitiser and yes, believe it or not, toilet paper too.
To view the Beach Houses and make a booking, click here.
New South Wales Government COVID-19 Restrictions/Advice: