Ticking off the three key goals of a Byron holiday

Soon, we’re presented with a spot-on umeshu bourbon sour and a tropical “Panda Highball”. They pair effortlessly with kingfish sashimi (garnished with kombu oil and sprigs of micro shiso), and hibachi-grilled scallops on the half-shell, which swim in punchy umami butter beneath orbs of finger lime. But we must control ourselves. Dinner’s within spitting distance, over at party-central Smoking Camel.

Neon-lit dining at The Smoking Camel.

Neon-lit dining at The Smoking Camel.

We save space, then proceed to fill it with Middle Eastern-inspired share plates: fluffy whipped baba ganoush topped with ultra-crispy curry leaf, chewy, honey-soaked carrots studded with caraway, and raw tuna in place of lamb in the kibbeh nayeh (traditionally, a spiced raw mince dish).

Middle-Eastern-inspired share plates at The Smoking Camel.

Middle-Eastern-inspired share plates at The Smoking Camel.

The town is buzzy and loud, bright with evening personalities and performances, but we roll ourselves back to Swell – and awake in paradise. Blooming frangipanis and coconut-scented sunscreen mingle with the salty breeze from Main Beach, a 10-minute walk away.

The morning’s demands include coffee and a slice of spelt banana bread (with cultured butter, of course) before a wellness session.

A sauna and five-degree ice bath – “See if you can do two minutes!” encourages Sorcha Horgan, Swell’s general manager – is complimentary to all Swell guests. We follow it with an unhurried dip in the pool.

The only guests we encounter (rooms are occupied, but guests seem to respect the retreat-like energy) are two young men from Panama. Blissed out on sunshine, we swap stories about fishing, container ships and surfing.

Lights Years, in the buzzy Johnson Lane precinct.

Lights Years, in the buzzy Johnson Lane precinct.

The Jonson Lane precinct is the latest treasure trove expansion of the stylish Byron footprint. We explore it before lunch at Asian diner Light Years, which was once at Smoking Camel’s current spot on Lawson Street.

The eatery is a cornucopia of softness, with gentle pastel salmon tones playing off bamboo ceiling panels and billowing linen curtains. The menu is exceptional (and exceptionally priced, with generous banquet options starting at $69), but the mussels in a deep, tom yum-like broth with lemongrass and coriander leave an impression. Paired with sticky lamb ribs and buttered, furikake-topped slices of corn, it’s a transcendent meal.

We wander along the beach on our way home, stopping at gelateria Frankie’s for a scoop of banoffee ice-cream. The afternoon sun hits the lighthouse, so we dig our toes deeper into the sand.

“Slow down” has been achieved, and – after another sauna, sunbake and barefoot wander – so has “chill out”. We’ve ticked off “cheer up” many times over, but we cap it off with one final meal.

Italian fixture Pixie’s.

Italian fixture Pixie’s.

Italian-inspired wine bar Pixie’s, also in the Jonson Lane precinct, transports us to a moody, intimate trattoria.

As we raise a glass of Australian riesling, plates begin to crowd the table. We scoop creamy burrata and basil oil onto slabs of focaccia and twirl crab spaghetti onto forks.

The famous unofficial slogan beneath the “Welcome to Byron Bay” sign.

The famous unofficial slogan beneath the “Welcome to Byron Bay” sign. Credit: Alamy

From our corner booth, we overlook the marble-topped bar and tables of grinning patrons as laughter reverberates through the room. “Cheer up,” it seems to whisper. “Slow down. Chill out.”




Byron Luxury Tesla, run by husband and wife Nigel Raynard and Louise Fitzgibbons, will ensure you’ll arrive in style. Hop in the Tesla, sip on a bottle of sparkling water, and ease into the short drive. See byronbayluxurytesla.com.au

Byron Bay Luxe Limousines has a fleet of luxury vehicles, too. See byronbayluxelimousines.com

The writer was a guest of Swell Hotel and Light Years Group.

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