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Byron Bay / Cabarita
Australia

Halcyon House

Blue on blue, but no heartache here. The end of a cruisy little jaunt to Northern NSW took me to Byron and then a little further north.

My short few days in Byron were spent blissfully taking in all the sights: walking the beautiful path to the lighthouse, as yoga-toned grannies and small fluffy dogs made their way past me at speed. I pretended that I was just strolling, and to be honest I was often stopped in my tracks by drop dead gorgeous vistas through the tea-trees of beautiful coastline and aquamarine waters, dotted with tiny black figures bobbing about, hoping not to be eaten by sharks.

We ate at hipster heaven The Farm at Byron, surrounded by men in bush-beards, and more yoga-toned grannies (classes are held on site in a restored Queenslander. It was somewhat offputting to be eating your ricotta hotcakes and maple smoked bacon and see various  lissome limbs flung up against the windows in the near distance). We ate at Harvest Cafe in delightful Newrybar, with its beautiful home-from-home vibe, superfresh classics and flirty little cocktails. We ate at many other Byron haunts, where the smashed avo was mandatory (with feta, with dukkah, with biodynamic macadamias, on sprouted grain rye, with yoghurt cheese hung in muslin sacks handwoven by spiders on an organic spider-muslin farm……kidding on that last).

We shopped. Island Luxe can afford to build a third store with the proceeds of our visit and I am fully decked out for years to come.

Out downtime was spent at the beachy-sweet Atlantic Guest Houses, all blond timbers and white tongue and groove, bold prints and balmy breezes. A tropical garden links the various guesthouses, which have their own common areas – kitchen, library, living room artfully scattered with found objects, and suitably decorative bottles of complimentary mineral water. There is a dinky pool, brightly coloured boards for guests to take out in the surf, a nicely edited little on-site store of floaty cotton garb and a sense of community..

And on our last night, we made our way to Halcyon House, darling of the fashpack. A restored seaside motel at tiny Cabarita, whose claim to fame is a stunning surf beach behind a lawned strip, it houses restaurant du jour Paper Daisy, and has been blessed with the fairy-wand of interior designer Anna Spiro. Rooms are small, and can’t hide the fact that they are reincarnated motel rooms, but they are well thought out and comfortable. As for the décor, blue and white predominate, with quirky splashes such as giant chalky clam shells filled with pineapples. Textiles are everywhere, including the walls which are fully upholstered. Halcyon House is expensive for what it is – but they do very well at adding luxury touches. Our two-bedroom suite was spacious and airy, with a gorgeous forward terrace overlooking the beach (and everyone else’s rooms, if we cared to look backwards – most seemed to be housing fashion shoots, disappointing for the voyeur). A jar of handmade confectionary awaited us including spiced marshmallows and fruit gels. Do NOT turn down turn-down – another jar of the most delicious chewy chocolate biscuits was provided. I’m not sure how that sugar rush was meant to bring on sleep. Maybe by coma. But I was ready to try it.

Paper Daisy was lovely – populated with a mix of city folk down for the weekend, and local folk celebrating birthdays and anniversaries. We saw fashion types and ladies who lunch during the day and at breakfast, but the vibe was relaxed and fun, as were the staff. The food was good, and the simpler dishes worked better, I found – a delicious prawn sandwich on brioche with shredded iceberg was perfect. 

The House at present has a great team and Ben Devlin is providing a kitchen which is offering something very different for this part of the world.  Anna Spiro’s riot of art and colour is terrific fun and the natural beauty outside the front door is breathtaking. Hopefully they can maintain the standard, and keep it rolling to be more than just a location shoot.