Byron properties hide travel gems
LOOKING for somewhere to spend the weekend? Tucked away in the Byron Bay hills are the best spots to take in the sights.
Scattered around Byron Bay, I visited three different working "'farms" - The Farm, Summerland House Farm and Husk Distillery.
We began at Summerland House Farm, close to a little place called Alstonville.
It was a fantastic, windy drive from Lennox Heads where we had been staying, taking us past rows and rows of macadamia and guava plantations and paddocks with cows.
The farm itself is known for its avocados and macadamias. You can take twice-daily farm tours here with their tractor and carriage. They employ 89 employees with disabilities.
We picked up natural-roasted macadamias nuts, relaxed in the cafe and even checked out their plant nursery where I picked up a beautiful, trailing philodendron gold.
Our next stop was The Farm, and it was very, very hard not to fall in love with the hairy cows - Scottish Highlanders. They were super photogenic.
The Farm is a unique entity created as a bunch of different farmers bringing their animals and crops in as a collective. You'll find pigs, chickens and cattle here, as well as rows of different, rotating crops.
While I was upset to learn all the animals are eaten - even the Highlanders - the way they are raised is far more ethical than factory farming, which is a big plus for anyone who eats meat.
Our last stop returning to the Gold Coast was to Husk Distillery, which has been booming since they opened their cellar doors to the public this month.
The distillery creates the renowned Ink Gin, as well as a number of boutique sugarcane rums.
It was very busy when we arrived, but there is a lovely grassy knoll people can sit on, and their platter boards (including a vegan version), paired with their gin or rum cocktails meant there was no better way to finish the day.
WHILE YOU'RE THERE... DO
You can easily squeeze in a visit to Macadamia Castle on your way to all these places, if hot roasted macadamias are your thing.
They also have an animal farm here for the kids, but I find the main drawcard is indeed the variations of freshly roasted macadamia nuts you can try.
They had macadamia nuts mixed with variations such as lime pepper, garlic, honey coconut or chilli, plus a myriad of other tastes.
Their gift shop is quite expansive and you'll find a few interesting products, including hemp shampoo, natural mueslis from the area and aromatic soaps.
The roads on the way to the farms are choc-a-blok with families offering their home-grown vegetables through honesty boxes.
There were plenty of mandarins available, avocados, lemons and other veggies.
We even found an honesty box with bunches of carrots strung up, pumpkins, lemons and, of course, more mandarins.
A few also offered spinach, but they had perhaps sold out, so we missed out on fresh spinach. But we did score a big bag of mandarins for $1.
EAT AND DRINK
The trip to visit these spots can be spread out across a few days and if you so decide to stay the night, then visiting amazing little eatery No Bones in Byron Bay is a must.
It's plant-based and sits on the cusp of fine-dining and comfort food.
Think a roasted onion stuffed with a creamy macadamia and truffle dip with toasted sourdough, faux chicken skewers with satay sauce, or my personal favourite, their chef's special that night, a creamy laksa soup.
They also have other mouth-watering items on their menu, but by then we were already stuffed.