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Byron Shire
May 20, 2022

Latest News

The floods are leaving people homeless and families split

There was a housing crisis on the Northern Rivers, then we had the floods of 2022 and the issue has left increasing numbers of people homeless and struggling to find alternative accommodation.

Other News

The floods are leaving people homeless and families split

There was a housing crisis on the Northern Rivers, then we had the floods of 2022 and the issue has left increasing numbers of people homeless and struggling to find alternative accommodation.

Storylines – Stop the rot and take action

Having spent a long time reflecting on the last 13 weeks since the floods devastated our region, many important issues have come to my attention – loss of homes, possessions, safety, schools suspended from flooding, chaos, death, loss of animals, extreme anxiety and desperation, and so much more.

A positive change for Bruns River

With the floods still on the mind of those impacted in the Shire’s north, a local charity and its partners have launched an interactive online map of the Brunswick River to raise awareness and hopefully bring it back to full health.

Ballina osprey platform in dangerous disrepair

As nesting season approaches, wildlife carer and local bird expert Deb Pearse has contacted The Echo about her concerns for the precarious state of the Brunswick Street osprey nesting platform, near the river in Ballina.

Mandy for Richmond: ‘I’m there to break things’

I am deeply curious about whether Mandy Nolan can unseat Labor’s Justine Elliot and win Richmond for the Greens in Saturday’s election.


Morrison is the loose unit with the economy! Here’s some excerpts from a long, long list of corruption by...

Here we are, the end of the year fast approaching once again.  Leaving aside the fact that the year has flown by at 1,000km an hour, let's focus on the good news: summer is here again. How blessed we are to be in such a beautiful part of the world to enjoy it.

It's the season of beach barbecues, garden parties, celebrations and end-of-year festivities.  At the time of year where we like to dress our best from the Melbourne Cup lunch to the Christmas party, the question on everyones lips is 'What the hell am I going to wear?'

We will be taking you behind the scenes, finding out whats happening on the streets, at the festivals, and talking to local shop owners about what's in style this summer.  Stay tuned for five weeks of inspiration and style. By the end of this feature you will have your outfit planned and depending who you are a glass of bubbles or green juice in your hand.

EchoHouseAd-FashionGiveaway-300x250We would also love to hear from you about your take on this summer's style. Just email onlineeditor[at]echo.net.au with the subject line style, include a picture if you like and you may see your face on our trendy page.

Don't forget to enter our competition for your chance to win two pairs of designer silk shorts. Click here to find out more details.


Carla Zipper

Zacalu Zoo

IMG_3158 copy

Darren Coyne

Remember the days when clothing and toys were made to last? Remember back when the fabrics you wore suited the climate that you lived in?

The partners behind Zacalu Zoo do.

Christine Sonder and Chantal Wieseler knew that if they were going to get into retail, they wanted to sell nothing but quality products.

With an online store, an outlet at Kingscliff, and now a new shop at Bangalow, their decision to invest in quality is paying off.

Zacalu Zoo specialises in clothing made from natural fabrics and toys made the old-fashioned way.

IMG_3175‘We’re into selling “slow” toys,’ Ms Sonder said.

‘The type of toys that children use their imaginations with.

‘Computers are wonderful and a great source of information but this is about children enjoying slow time.’

The shops sell things such a puzzles, wooden toys, and things that children can build themselves such as forts and pirate ships.

The clothing, for kids and ladies, is all made from natural products such as linen and cotton, which are suited to the north coast climate.

‘There’s no plastic in our shops. It’s all wooden toys, craft supplies and interesting bits and pieces that you don’t find in regular stores,’ Ms Sonder said.

Zacalu Zoo began trading in Murwillumbah four years ago but relocated to Kingscliff’s Marine Parade after just a year.

As the store’s popularity grew, Ms Wieseler and Ms Sonder decided to branch out to Bangalow.

‘Bangalow is such a gorgeous place and we had both lived in that area for years,’ Ms Sonder said.

IMG_3187‘We opened the new store there at the beginning of August and it’s going very well.

‘My son Brett Sonder and his partner Sharyn King have also joined the business and we all take turns working in the different stores.'

As well as the children’s clothes and toys, Zacalu Zoo also specialises in comfortable clothing for women, again made from only natural fabrics
‘We do our own Zacalu brand, which is designed by me with fabrics sourced from America, as well as other leading Australian brands,’ she said.

‘In the kids' range we’ve got top Australian brands that include Paperwings from Mullumbimby, Rock the Baby and Munster Kids.

‘For the babies we stock the Alex and Ant brand.’

The Kingscliff store is located at Shop 2, 96A Marine Parade, while the Bangalow store can be found at 1A, 36 Byron Street. To visit the online store go to www.zacaluzoo.com.au. See the Zacalu Zoo profile page here.


Anna Middleton Boutique

Wendy Fell, one of the sales assistants at the Anna Middleton Boutique in Byron Bay
Wendy Fell, one of the sales assistants at the Anna Middleton Boutique in Byron Bay

Darren Coyne

It’s a long way from the coffee plantations of Papua New Guinea to Byron Bay, but Anna Middleton has made the journey with style.

Anna Middleton 7She started out travelling Europe in her early 20s but eventually found her ‘home’ in Byron Bay, with husband Jim, 34 years ago, after a stint in the wilds of PNG.

‘We drove around for 6 months trying to find a nice place to live and eventually found the oldest house in Byron bay at Hayters Hill … we’re still together and love this area,’ she told Echonetdaily.

After settling in the Bay, and with a life-long passion for fashion, it was inevitable she would eventually open a shop. And she, did, 26 years ago, which would make hers one of the longest established fashion outlets in the Bay.

Since then, the Anna Middleton brand has become synonymous with style, with her clothing sourced from top designers around the world.

‘What I try to do is have different things and I only buy one of anything in each size,’ she said.

‘For many years I have had so much fun sourcing high end labels and internationally revered designs from around the globe and lots of exciting Australian labels for lower budgets, enabling the store to cater to everyone.

For many years the boutique has been sourcing unique pieces from designers from Spain, Paris, Italy, Germany and New Zealand, along with lots of local Australian labels for lower budgets.

Anna Middleton 2The shop also features bags, belts, jewellery and shoes to compliment any outfit.

Mrs Middleton said the shop was a popular place for tourists, with many coming back year after year to buy the latest fashions.

She also has a strong local trade, catering to more mature women.

‘I love clothes and I’ve never been one to hang around in daggy tracksuit pants.

‘Our customers also love our clothes, which is why they keep coming back.

‘We have a huge repeat trade and my shop is like destination shopping.

Mrs Middleton first opened in the Byron arcade, then moved to the industrial estate because she began manufacturing linen garments, but settled in her current location over a decade ago.

‘I’ve been 11 years where I am now. Everyone has heard of me through the Irish linen shirts that I used to manufacture and market in Australia and overseas she said.

The shop is located at 27 Fletcher Street, Byron Bay, in a building which once housed a soda drink factory.

Customers can also visit her website at www.annamiddleton.com.au to view the fashion range.

Mrs Middleton said anyone who was unable to visit the store contact the store after visiting the website and their purchases would be sent out. See the Anna Middleton profile page for more photos.

Fairy Floss

Fairy Floss summer 2014.
Fairy Floss Byron Bay Spring/Summer 2015.
Revital Lev works on the window display.
Revital Lev works on the window display.

Darren Coyne

Nothing pleases Alex and Revital Lev more than seeing their creations being worn by people having fun on a festival dance floor or walking around town.

After 15 years trading in the competitive Byron Bay market, the pair has firmly established themselves as trendsetters with their store, Fairy Floss.

The store itself is more than just a clothing shop. It is like a gallery, capturing the magical and creative qualities of Byron Bay, with its unique range of clothing and accessories displayed with a loving attention to detail.

‘Ours is one of the longest standing shops in the Bay,’ Alex said.

‘We have been creating unique, original designs and styles for many years now and we strive to deliver good quality. ‘

‘As an underground fashion, our aim is to create unique, tribal and durable collections every season. As opposed to mainstream fashion, Fairy Floss and Pixie King garments are created to last, both in style and in quality.

‘People come in and say, “Wow, I’ve never seen anything like that before”, which is how Byron itself used to be before the chain stores moved in.’

Alex designs the men’s range and his partner Revital, who is a professional fashion designer, does the women and kids, and finishes off the entire collection.

‘The fabrics are mostly stretchy cottons that will flatter any form. We also use leather, lace, frills, prints, studs, cuts and special washes to create that time worn look.

‘Our inspiration is Mother Nature, the Byron lifestyle, the festivals around Australia, conscious living, and life itself.

‘The last five or six years have been influenced by Steampunk. Six year ago nobody thought that Steampunk would get so big but we were already influenced by it.

‘But our latest Summer collection is influenced by Naturepunk, which is a fusion of natural elements like feathers, bones, leaves, together with the punk style of things, which is the ribs, the cuts, the studs and the unfinished edges.’

‘Punk is also about taking something familiar or old, and transforming it to a new creation, to something that is on the edge of what we want to express.’

Alex said apart from the boutique shop in Byron Bay, he and Revital enjoyed setting up their stall at festivals like Woodford, Blues Fest, Rainbow Serpent, EarthFreq … mostly electronic but some organic festivals too.

‘It’s a nice way to get in touch with our clientele … the people who are wearing what we produce.

‘We have an online presence too, www.fairyflossbyronbay.com, for those traveling or overseas punters that are hooked on our style.

‘We’ve had a great feedback and support from the locals over the years and seeing Fairy Floss become a Byronian icon makes us very proud and grateful.

‘Especially now as Byron undergoes yet another change in the cooperative direction, and independent boutiques like ours find it harder to survive.

‘Being long time locals ourselves we wish to thank all our supporters for their ongoing support and kindness.

‘You are making it all possible.’

The Fairy Floss Byron Bay store is located at 6/52 Jonson St, Byron Bay NSW 2481. To visit the website go to www.fairyflossbyronbay.com. See the Fairy Floss profile page for more photos.

Alex Lev believes Fairy Floss has survive because the clothing is unique.
Alex Lev believes Fairy Floss has survived because the clothing is unique.

The Tipi Market - Byron Bay Surf Festival

BBSF-Saturday-93Surfing in Byron Bay is a fashionable gig. It sometimes feels like a catwalk out there in the lineup, with striking designs, cuts and prints abundant amongst swimsuits, wetsuits and surfboards. The weather and water in Byron Bay is mild, and allows for a lot of outfit variation and the ocean is an inspiring place that leads to creative motion.

This is a phenomenon embraced by the Byron Bay Surf Festival, and fashion is a major component this year. Innovative fashion – in all its manifestations - has sprung out of the surfing diaspora and the festival wants to celebrate it.

The best place to check out what’s on offer is the Saturday Tipi Market (Saturday 25th October, 10am-6pm) up at the Main Beach festival hub where designers, labels and artisans gloriously gather under the sun. There are innovative brands coming from all around the world including ‘Moonjelly’ from Japan, Freepeople from the USA, Indah clothing from Hawaii and many more.

BBSF-Saturday-118Owners, scouts, designers and entrepreneurs will be roaming the festival site hunting for inspiration, new flair and to see what’s happening in both the surf scene and beyond – its springtime and everyone is thinking ahead for the seasons ahead.

This year the festival has also allocated a whole zone for sustainable, ethical and one-for-one clothing initiatives such as Sanuk, Smile, TOMS and Patagonia as well as new style brands like Banks, Golden Breed and Uppercut deluxe who are also fitting out an entire zone with a classic car display and grooming centre.

BBSF-Saturday-39The Tipi Market is a free, all day event that is beautiful and rambling along the foreshore. In amongst many artisan, healthy food and fashion stalls can be found board shaper exhibits and various workshops such as boardbag making, wooden fin and handplane making and also health and fitness presentations.

Check out some more of the brands on show at www.byronbaysurffestival.com/lifestyle and make sure to tune into the rest of the festival program.


RAW Returns!

RAW: Natural born artists 2014 is back with more

The team at RAW Byron Bay could not be more excited to expose the talent they have uncovered to the rest of the community. On Wednesday 22nd October, more than 20 talented will congregate to exhibit their work to art lovers, headhunters and industry professionals. Visual art, photography, performing art, hair, fashion and music is what you can expect to see at the Beach Hotel from 7:30pm onwards.

This will be the 8th showcase unleashed on the shire and it’s safe to say RAW BYRON BAY is quickly developing a reputation as one the most unique and fun events in the Northern Rivers.

Local art lover Kelly Paynter said she has being continuously impressed with the talent and success of the showcases.

'I attend religiously and every single time I am more impressed than the last. Who knew there was this much talent in the region? I’m glad there is an outlet for these people to be recognised.'

Showcase Director Abbie Gibson said she is proud of all the artists past and present and their ability to draw in large groups of like-minded people to appreciate their work.

'I’m so proud of the artists, both those that have showcased with us previously and the tremendous talents we have coming up in the Axis showcase. It’s overwhelming to see the support the community has for people’s creations and I’m honored to be able to help people see what talent there is out there.'

RAW:natural born artists is an international independent arts organisation that hand-selects and spotlights independent creatives. Its global community provides up-and-coming artists of all mediums and genres with the resources, exposure and networks needed to pursue a fruitful career in their chosen creative field.

RAW events are 18+. Tickets are $16.50 pre-sale or $20 at the door.

For more information, including details about Byron Bay’s featured artists, and to book tickets, visit: rawartists.org/byronbay/axis

If you are a Northern Rivers-based artist and would like to be featured at a future RAW event, submit your work at www.rawartists.org

Connect on Facebook, Instagram: @rawbyron and Twitter: @rawbyronbay.

Richmond candidates 2022: Informed Medical Options Party candidate Monica Shepherd

Monica Shepherd is an organic naturopath based in Ocean Shores. She is running as a candidate for the Informed Medical Options Party in the federal seat of Richmond.

Storylines – Stop the rot and take action

Having spent a long time reflecting on the last 13 weeks since the floods devastated our region, many important issues have come to my attention – loss of homes, possessions, safety, schools suspended from flooding, chaos, death, loss of animals, extreme anxiety and desperation, and so much more.

Review of community response called for as challenges recognised

Local community members stepped forward to help coordinate and respond to the disaster; from people getting into boats and kayaks recusing strangers in Lismore to coordinating local response hubs in the hinterland and local towns. But it wasn't all a bed of roses.

$17m in funds for work on crown lands in NSW

If you are involved in managing crown reserve land and facilities then now is the time to get that application in for a share of the $17 million that is available fro the 2022-3 funding round.