The Byron Bay Way

By Donna Duggan

The Byron Bay Way

Having spent the last week at the lovely northern NSW town of Byron Bay, I’ve been inspired to make a few tweaks to my lifestyle. Byron Bay is often written off as a place full of backpackers and hippies, but in the last 22 years that I’ve been making my annual holiday there, I’ve always come away feeling inspired and refreshed.

Beneath Byron Bay’s tourist exterior is a health conscious community. And I don’t mean health in “the latest celebrity diet” sense. My experience of the place is that its locals are interested in the well-being of their body, mind, spirit and environment. Before you stop reading this new age nonsense, take a moment to consider how you feel right now. How are your energy levels? How are you handling stress? What is the quality of your sleep like? How do you feel in your skin? This is what wellbeing is all about. Forget chanting, incense and mung beans; wellbeing is about living a life that makes you feel energised, clear-headed and calm.

Here’s what I learned from the locals:

Rise and shine

With two young boys, I’m often awake early but I usually head straight to the coffee machine. In Byron, I joined the hoard of locals walking the beach at sunrise. It was an energising experience that put me in a great mood for the rest of the day. As well as the endorphin rush from the exercise, it was a great way to clear my head and dream a little.  Back home, it’s a 30 minute drive to the beach so a seaside morning walk is out the question, but a quick walk around the block before everyone wakes up is still an invigorating way to start the day.

Juice it

There must be over 20 cafes in the small town, and each one offers some unique twist on a fresh juice. If you are feeling a little adventurous you can choose anything from kale to spinach and everything in between. The surprise was every juice we tried was delicious. Even my three-year-old son loved his pineapple, ginger and apple juice. I always struggle to get my kids to eat enough fruit and vegetables, so I’ve found juicing to be a great way to get a few more nutrients into them. The kids’ favourite is a mix of frozen berries and banana blended with some almond milk.

Gluten-free breakfast

Breakfast at a café loses its appeal when you are diagnosed with Coeliac Disease. No more pancakes, eggs on rye or bircher muesli. The strong café culture mixed with the health-conscious mentality has resulted in some clever gluten-free meals that put a good breakfast back on my menu. Quinoa now makes a star appearance, as does gluten-free corn cakes, eggs with spinach and rice-based muesli.

Stop Rushing

As fabulous as the food and drinks are in the cafes in Byron, service is often slow. As I impatiently fidgeted at a café one morning waiting for my takeaway coffee, I looked around and noticed the locals were not so concerned at the snail-moving pace. My kids were happily playing with a newfound friend, my husband was enjoying the sun as he read his newspaper and it dawned on me that I was working myself into a frazzle for nothing.  Not only was I flooding myself with some unnecessary stress hormones, I was missing the great scene around me. At home I’m always in a rush and I finally realised that it brings me no joy whatsoever. Now I don’t pack so much into my day. The house might be a little messy, but I’m loving the pace.


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