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Everyone and their grandma has officially been to Byron Bay. For better or worse, the Northern NSW town has well and truly shaken off its patchouli-scented hippie persona to grow into the chic, linen-draped, wildly popular holiday destination we now know and love. Each year, the town adds to its cadre of lo-fi wine bars, inventive cafés, and independent stores – and while the region's infrastructure has gone through some changes, its natural beauty remains pristine.
Whatever you're looking for, you're bound to find something to love in Byron. In ordinary years (read: not this one) the presence of three major music festivals – Bluesfest in April, Splendour in the Grass in July, and Falls Festival over the New Year's – marks it on the holiday calendar for many out-of-towners. It's a haven for spiritual seekers while doubling as the luxe, sandy playground of the Eastern Suburbs’ moneyed set. The town's casual dining scene, spearheaded mostly by established players in Sydney's hospitality circles, has hit the stratosphere. The surrounding area's lush, waterfall-dotted hinterland holds a powerful pull for nature-lovers.
If you've been to Byron before, you'll have cottoned on to the fact that many of the area's gems are out of town – so rent a full-frontal surf beach bungalow in Lennox Head or stay in a shed in the back of a crystal-dotted fairy garden in Mullumbimby, and really get to know your little pocket of the area. Here's where to find the best of Byron and its surrounds, from must-visits to under-the-radar gems.
Recommended: Your complete guide to Orange.