bang on!

I was forbidden to take my laptop on holidays. Despite having many great anecdotes and thoughts relevant to this spot, I enjoyed the break, physically and mentally separated from the thoughts that overtake most of my mortal days.

This doesn't mean that my passion for food was suspended, nor my ability to sniff out a good morsel, rue a lacklustre meal, peruse growers markets, enjoy great home cooked meals by the parents, and get behind the cooker a couple of times myself. Indeed that is my very essence of being most of the time.

Byron Bay and surrounds played a moody host to our family Christmas gathering and became even more intense as the second week (the "holiday week") progressed. Fortunately we weathered the storms (all seven days of them) and my parents house is still intact, albeit with a few muddy paw prints!

The region captivates me, and for whatever reason I feel a certain affinity with its surrounds. I don't recall my first trip to Byron, but the first trip I recall is a distant and hazy memory of staying with family friends at Possum Creek, a pig on a spit, and kittens rescued from an above ground swimming pool.

Still in the days before John "Strops" Cornell and the lovely Delvene, Paul Hogan and a host of Australia's wealthy and famous, I recall the hippy-verging-on-feral Byron Bay that has almost now disappeared, where beach holidays with lurid zinc were interrupted with buskers singing hits such as "circular time"(wtf?)!!!

At the end of high school I had my "stealing beauty" adventure in Byron, staying there for a good chunk of the summer break and by that stage it was a backpackers' valhalla. It was a place to stop and regroup, a place for live music and kindred spirits, it was cool but not massively popular, and I loved it!

After that our relationship mellowed a bit. I was disappointed in the change of attitude, schoolies and new year revelers had left their mark on the place, and it was a bit like George St in Sydney on the Friday night before Christmas.

Since then Byron has mellowed again. Baby boomers have hooked into the area and its natural charms in stark contrast with the bustling pace at which they have earned the money which affords them to do so. The focus on things green and natural, peace and meditation has again come to the fore, and backpackers, wheelers and dealers, holiday beach goers, locals, and a host of talented people are co-existing and lapping up the air of change that blew in toward the end of 2007.

For me this time around I was even more aware of food than other trips and delighted in checking out the cafes, growers markets, pubs, restaurants and shops, and a big shout out to the IGA by the industrial estate, which is a fantastic example of local and organic product ranges on supermarket shelves.

Obviously I couldn't eat at all that I observed, nor did I want to, but there is something really special about more of these places in this region than anywhere else; a level of involvement with the food is apparent. Not that it was all wonderful, but it seems to me that these places have a deeper appreciation of the food chain, perhaps as much of it is grown and reared in the hinterland.

Without further ado, I leave you with a fresca swiss&bacon burger from the Bangalow Hotel with perhaps the best bacon I have ever tasted. Magic!

Bangalow Hotel, 1 Byron Street, Bangalow


purple goddess said...

I too, rue the "Byron" of the early 80's. I returned there in mid 90's with an old school chum, ready to relive the hippy days of Feb 1982, when we drove up and stayed at some random friend-of-a-friends place in the hinterland, bough fresh seafood from the Fish Co-op in Brunswick Heads (?), took fire-stick lessons at Mevlana and were introduced to the delights of Sinsimilla Heads (ahem.. that's a surf beach, right???)

Ahh.. the vegie sushi, coloured purple with organic beetroot juice from the vegetarian co-op in Main street. Prolly been replaced by an Etamoghah Pub by now.

grocer said...

The Byron of today is different again. More upmarket, but certainly nicer than the mid nineties!

No Etamogah pub - although the beach hotel is trying hard to dive down to that standard!