Marie Le Hur (founder of the must-see expat hub, Carpe Sydney), recently flew from Sydney to the surfing mecca of Byron Bay, a place so consumed by surf culture that it’s almost impossible to avoid returning without ‘gnarly’ becoming the go-to word in your vocabulary.

For the long Labour Day weekend, 24 of us headed up to Byron Bay for three days of falling in love with the place – even more so than we already were. Some came from Brisbane, the rest from Sydney; not everyone knew each other, but everyone had one classic thing in common – we were all a British expat friend of a friend, with the exception of our one token aussie, the lovely Nicole.

Different groups arrived at different points on the Friday, but by 10pm everyone was there and the drinks were flowing. Who knew flip cup could be so aggressive… Once the girls had smashed the boys with a humiliating Best of Three defeat – and defeat, it was – we headed out to the ‘it’s got to be done however old you are’ classic, Cheeky Monkeys where dancing on tables, stools or someone’s shoulders is an absolute must.

Byron Lighthouse

Saying that you have technically surfed with a whale means you can die happy.

The next day, we all headed to the main beach, where some of us attempted to surf The Pass. The good news was that it wasn’t as busy as people said; the bad news was that the swell was tiny. It was lovely being in the water anyway and then sunbathing on the beach, knowing summer is well and truly on its way (albeit a wind protector would have gone down a treat). Someone on the beach nearby spotting a whale just beyond where the surfers were sitting simply added to our glee! Saying that you have technically surfed with a whale means you can die happy now, surely.

Sunday and Monday were largely spent at Tallows Beach on the south side, a huge and remarkably empty stretch of stunning white sand. To finish off an amazing weekend, we couldn’t not go and say hi to the Lighthouse, so those who could be persuaded trudged up the steep path – and it was so worth it. After taking a couple of must-have tourist shots at Australia’s most eastern point, we were greeted with 360 degrees of pure aesthetic heaven. And in even greater news, the café at the top was ACTUALLY OPEN! (Over the weekend we had discovered that most places in Byron stop serving food by 4, which was precisely when we seemed to get starving each day.) We enjoyed delicious ham and cheese croissants and some banana bread, only slightly ruined by an evil looking bird that swept up from behind us and took a bite right out of my hand. It then stopped on a rooftop close by, just to rub it in our faces as it enjoyed the hefty morsel at an unreachable distance.

Flying back the day the clocks changed confused just about everyone, since we were flying from the Gold Coast airport (40 minutes north) which didn’t have a time zone change since it is situated in Queensland. However, both Sydney and Byron Bay had moved forward an hour…as a result, a couple of the group accidentally spent the majority of their final afternoon in the Gold Coast airport – and there’s really not very much to do there. We all made it home safe and sound eventually, then we had the hardest challenge of all to face: getting up for work.

tom at byron

Sunset Byron Surf