Between the December influx of schoolies, toolies and year-round Hippies, Byron Bay can get crowded. That doesn’t stop this seaside town being one of the most popular summer holiday spots along the NSW coast.
There’s one spot where people will go out of their way to be in the crowds.
The Byron Farmers Markets take place on Thursday mornings in Butler St Reserve, behind the train station and just a block from the main drag, Jonson St.
Early on a sunny Thursday morning, locals and a smattering of tourists are rushing to their favourite stalls before they sell out.
By the time I reach the Stone Fruit stall, the last pink-blushed peaches are tucked into wicker shopper baskets right in front of my eyes. These are the first stone fruits of the season, picked from the orchard yesterday, and they’re hot property. Peering into a box of seconds, the slightly bruised fruits give off a sweet aroma that smells like summer, and is impossible to resist. Juice dribbles down my chin as I tuck in. At the next stall, the Byron Bay Muffin Men have sold out of Banana muffins but I’m content with a fluffy dairy free carrot cake.
With a basket to fill, we dash around the stalls to check out what’s on offer and breathe a sigh of relief. There’s plenty of fresh Byron Bay Pork chops, bags of The Witches Broom Stick’s mushrooms are still for sale and Rainforest Foods have brought enough homemade macadamia spread (like peanut butter but with much better health benefits) to feed an army.
Regulars know to get here early, arriving in droves to support the all-local stall-holders, who’ve come from the Byron Bay Hinterlands to sell their wares.
It’s the worst kept secret of the town and the team at The Byron at Byron Resort and Spa are doing their bit to make sure the word gets out. Every Thursday head chef Gavin Hughes leads a free market tour, taking guests down to the stalls early and showing them what the region has to offer. He stocks the restaurant’s kitchens while he’s at it, sourcing as much as he can from the local area.