When you leave here, you’re going nowhere by Stephanie Nuzzo
Legend has it that the fountain of youth is hidden away somewhere in Florida. But I think whoever wrote that was wrong. I’m putting my own theory out there. If there is in fact a fountain of youth, it’s in Byron Bay.
In Byron, everyone is young, everyone is on vacation and everyone is ridiculously good-looking. The town is run by bronze-skinned backpackers and kaftan-wearing creative-types. There is a relaxed ambience that is infectious. So much so, that after even the shortest time spent there, it’s hard not to unwind.
This small beachside town sits on the very edge of New South Wales, almost, but not quite in Queensland. And while it sits close to these two large states, it’s not difficult to see just how remote it is from both of them.
I found that Byron was like its own little country, with its own ‘ways’. Here, people walk the streets with bare feet. Foods like quinoa, dandelion-root tea and tofu are available everywhere. I even saw ice-cream bars that offered a choice of cow, goat or soya with your preferred flavour – no extra charge, no eyes rolled.
The main beach is always full of people, but not the kind you’ll find at Bondi. There’s not a souped up car in sight. We share the surf with the familiar faces of local families and fellow tourists who frequent the streets of this small town.
A few short days into my holiday and I am wearing a tie-dyed headband and an anklet. I buy hand moisturiser that smells of patchouli and I am eating samosa’s and veggie burgers. Looking back it all seems a little silly, that I was so malleable in adopting the Byron way of living. But there is something about the place that draws you in. Maybe it’s live music at the Beach Hotel; maybe it’s the rickshaw rider that made me want to buy a bike; maybe it’s the organic food and the sunshine? I don’t really know, but there’s something about Byron that makes me want to pack up my Sydney life and open a yoga studio by the beach.
On one of the far walls in Byron Bay’s Beach Hotel there is a mural that reads, ‘When you leave here, you’re going nowhere.’
That could mean a lot of different things. It could mean that once consumed by the hakuna matata lifestyle, your sense of ambition will turn to jelly. It could mean that you literally won’t be able to go anywhere because you’ve probably taken a trip to Nimbin. In which case, you’ll probably be sitting on the floor staring at the ceiling for a good while. But for me, the meaning became clear when I stepped off my train in Sydney’s Inner West. I looked around and realised that this place felt like nowhere. Nowhere compared to the profound somewhere I had found in Byron.
Stephanie Nuzzo is a superstar PR, marketeer and blogger. Check out her blog here.