January is a special time of the year. The hubbub and rush of the festive season is over and there is a lull before the year’s banalities set in. January is a time for relaxation, reflection and planning. There’s nothing like a wide-ranging, beautiful view to help put your life in perspective and gain a bigger picture of the joys and trials you are facing.
And what better way to enjoy a good view than with a delicious meal? In this region, so blessed with both gourmet delights and abundant beauty, food with a view is surprisingly hard to track down.
Beach views are the pot of gold at the end of the food-with-a-view rainbow. Car parking is a hot topic in Byron at the moment and, sadly, it is cars that get between a few great places and their beach views. Luckily, there are some that avoid this problem.
Beef+Beach, at the Lennox Hotel, uses height to ensure the sea view is uninterrupted. Beach Byron Bay sits pretty overlooking Clarkes Beach, especially if you book early and specify a deck-edge table. Conversely, you’re better off a couple of tables back from the edge at Byron’s Beach Hotel, which is set just high enough to minimise traffic in favour of a nice watery eye-line. For a special occasion, The Restaurant at Rae’s (at Wategos Beach) successfully takes an angled approach to minimise views of the cars.
One of the best sea views around is available via function bookings only – the Surf Life Saving Club at Byron’s Main Beach has nothing but a walking path between its spacious deck and the beach. And, speaking of decks, we’ll see how the Ocean Shores Country Club manages to tackle the carpark issue with their plans for a new sea-view eating area.
Though the sea may dominate tourism brochures, hinterland views are the hidden gem of the region. Though less sought out, hinterland views can be sweeping, stunning and mesmerising. And there are fewer carparks!
The only vehicle visible in the lovely hinterland views from the back deck at the Coast Restaurant at the Ocean Shores Country Club is the odd golf cart. The Lotus Cafe at Crystal Castle has a truly stunning view and enough tables that you won’t feel rushed to move on. For some sunset light over Mount Chincogan, head to the far back corner of the upstairs verandah of the Middle Pub in Mullum.
If the festive season has ended with your having overextended your eating-out budget, try a picnic with a view. The Ocean Shores lookout has a shiny barbecue at the top of the road or, for a far better, almost-360-degree view, take a stroll through a shady glade to the real lookout, which has a bench seat and space for a picnic blanket. The Pat Morton lookout at Lennox Point has fewer amenities but sweeping views from Byron to Ballina, as well as the odd hang-glider. At the Cape Byron Lighthouse, supplement your picnic with a coffee or ice-cream from the cafe before commandeering a wooden picnic table or bench seat under the verandah of the old lighthouse-keeper cottages.
If the festive season has ended with your having overextended your waistline, head to one of these view spots and eschew actual food by supping on the fresh air and allowing your eyes to feast on the view.
• Have we missed a great spot for food with a view in Byron Shire? Let us know in the comments section below.