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Byron Shire
May 15, 2021


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Byron’s beautiful but…

Having spent the last two years travelling first Australia then the world, I look back whimsically at Byron Bay and reflect on the beautiful place and admit, I miss it. Most of it anyway. The beaches, the markets, the community, most of the weather…

I don’t miss the shitty parks. There is not a tourist town in Australia that does not have a better main park. Not one. Seriously. In a year travelling Australia, Byron Bay beachfront park came last in terms of amenities. Plenty of non-tourist towns do as well. And they all have skate parks.

I don’t miss the high rents. A three-bedroom furnished inner city apartment here in Berlin city centre, with a view, costs $AU250 a week.

I don’t miss the lack of public transport. OK, not fair to compare BB to a large city, but Berlin compared to Sydney? It has five times as many suburban stations with an underground that crisscrosses the city with a train every three minutes. And above-ground trains, trams and buses. Sydney has one line, choked roads.

I don’t miss the paid parking. OK, you do have to pay sometimes; the most we have paid is $2 an hour in central Berlin (same as Byron Car Park) and once we got a parking fine – $15. I am tempted not to even bother paying for parking any more since that’s the fine amount.

I don’t miss the grocery prices. 500ml bottle of beer from the supermarket? – 45 euro cents. Broccoli 59 euro cents a kilo, lamb chops 6.99 euros a kilo, milk 60 euro cents a litre, nice large loaves of bread 79 cents. Even mangoes here in winter are cheaper than in Byron Bay in summer. Within 1km of our home are six competing supermarkets of varying prices and quality so instead of being held hostage by a duopoly, there is real competition. I can fill a shopping trolley for 70 euros. Seriously. Fill it. Would have cost me over $300 in Byron Bay.

I don’t miss the high movie prices. Friday night, one adult, two kids 15 euros. Even the junk at the counter is not overpriced.

I don’t miss the clothes and shoes prices. New stylish winter boots, wool inside, leather exterior, good quality soles 69 euros. I don’t miss the high prices for electronics. I am looking at my new 24 inch, LED backlit screen which has a TV tuner and speakers which cost 155 euros.

Monthly gym membership that allows me to go to any one of 134 gyms in Germany, 20 euros a month. My unlimited download internet is $30 a month. And I get download speed of 3gigps, about 8 times faster than I got in Byron Bay.

Oh, there are some downsides. It’s cold for one, though it’s kind of novel. There seems to be an ice skating rink on every city corner. Fuel is slightly more but the cars are more fuel-efficient and the upside is I can legally drive 300km/h on the freeway if I want.

Yes, I miss Australia, Byron Bay especially, but gee whiz, I had not expected Berlin of all places to be about three times cheaper to live in.

Richard McLachlan



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