Is your city lifestyle sometimes lacking? Lots of concrete and steel and not enough sand under your heels? Nature may be calling.
Sea change for a Me change
I first visited Byron Bay 8 years ago in 2011. The relaxing pace of this colorful beach town reminded me of how I wanted to feel. Happy, not full of stress as my job in the city was making me. I stayed in a funky backpacker’s lodge, the Arts Factory. One morning while eating breakfast, a bold water dragon jumped on the table and stole a piece of bacon off my plate. It didn’t matter because the tranquil wild environment soothed petty annoyances.
Nature heals. So I returned to Byron Bay as soon as I could. I eventually ended up moving here with my boss. After a weekend trip, she decided it’s where we both needed to be. There’s something about spending time with whales or hiking in a rainforest that reminds us of the bigger picture in life. When you relax and your body’s nervous system slows to a natural pace you also become more productive.
Holiday becomes home
I’ve lived in Byron Bay for 4 years now. It’s still my nature lover’s dream. There are so many interesting creatures that a daily encounter is a lifestyle. When I’m busy working, doses of wild nature balance me out. Here are some of the creatures I’ve encountered so far, with many more still to be met.
The common brush turkey has a cheeky reputation for getting into your belongings which doesn’t boost their popularity, but their funny antics make me laugh. Some locals think they’re unattractive, but my Japanese friend loves them. They’re her favorite emoji. A more popular bird perhaps is the kookaburras, who have a reputation for laughing. It was a cheerful sight when three were hanging out on a cliff rock as a nice surprise along the lighthouse walk.
Morning walks on soft white sands has given majestic images of white-bellied sea eagles perched in branches, guarding their nests. An adventure into the hinterland at the incredible Minyon Falls showed me peregine falcons. While I fancy owls as my totem animal, since my creative juices flow in the night, I’m yet to see one. There are sooty and masked owls in this hood and it will be a magical day indeed when one finally reveals itself.
On mornings before work, I can venture into the nearby wetlands, which have been constructed as a habitat for bird friends. 227 species spend time here on their migration or live natively. The ponds provide a feeding ground for many colorful waders, lily-pad hopping jacanas and native grebes. Honey-eaters and thornbills feed off the trees, while raptors and martins cruise the sky.
Magical encounters in the ocean
I’ve paused on my evening walk to the beach to watch an echidna ant hunting and wallabies munching grass. The ocean waves are part of my soundtrack to sleep. The place that brings out my inner mermaid. I watched the whales go by for a couple of years before getting out in the deep ocean to see them up close.
A friend and I paddled around on a calm morning in an inflatable kayak which was almost like being in the water. One flip of their tale, if they swam underneath us, would have bounced us into the air like a trampoline. The Southern Right whales tend to be unafraid of humans, quite nosey and swim up for a closer look. On their migration to the Antarctic, they take time, slowing pace for their babies.
On that amazing morning, about 24 whales including humpbacks, broke through the ocean’s surface, slapping their tales and jumping in every direction. An endangered logger-head turtle even made an appearance. Not to mention the dolphins, who have been known to catapult in the air from a big whack, if they swim too close.
Another place for kayaking is Julian Rocks which sit in the warm Pacific eastern current and below the surface, it’s a snorkellers paradise. I was not expecting so many brilliantly colored tropical fish, 400 different types, and wondrous looking turtles, stingrays, and placid enough leopard sharks.
Even when I got up at 2:45am to hike the local volcano Mount warning, the beautiful glow worms, spread in formations like stars across the rock walls put stop to my weary grumble. The natural beauty of this place is infectious for the people living here and those who come to visit. There are many Byron Bay people characters as colorful as the fish who live under the sea. That’s why it’s easy to stay and hard to leave.
Tania Rome is a freelance writer, massage therapist, and filmmaker from Byron Bay, Australia. She loves traveling and sharing tips about health.