Chef Darren Robertson's local tips for Byron Bay
Chef and co-owner of Byron Bay’s popular Three Blue Ducks restaurant, Darren Robertson, lets us in on his local tips for visiting the popular beach town in Northern New South Wales.
Darren is a chef with a passion for farm-to-table cooking, championing sustainability and ethically farmed produce. Daz trained in the UK under acclaimed Chef Mark Raffan at the Michelin-starred Gravetye Manor. Moving to Australia in 2001, he went on to open Three Blue Ducks in the Sydney beachside suburb of Bronte in 2010 with mates, before expanding to other locations including in Byron Bay in 2015. Here, Darren shares his local tips for the beautiful beachside town of Byron Bay.
Where to stay
There’s a few! The Atlantic Byron Bay is an iconic and much-loved boutique hotel thanks to its casual and relaxed beach vibe, hospitality, warmth and proximity to everything in town, while Elements of Byron is a resort that’s fantastic for families and groups. For something boutique and bespoke, Byron Beach Abodes has a suite of beautiful luxe properties that will make you want to move in for good!
What to do
A trip to one of the many farmers’ markets in Byron and surrounds is a must to taste and see some of the incredible local produce that Byron Bay is so famous for. Plus, you can grab breakfast and coffee while you’re at it.
A surf or swim at The Pass (a popular sandy stretch between Clarkes Beach and Wategos) around sunset is magical, and the Byron Bay Lighthouse walk offers some of the most beautiful views of the local beaches and a real sense of what makes this town so special. It’s not uncommon to see whales, dolphins and koalas on the way!
There are many stunning waterfalls in the area, so a day trip to one of these is a great way to experience the lush rainforests and serenity away from the crowds. One of my favourites is Minyon Falls in Byron Bay’s hinterland. Make sure to pack some hiking boots, a picnic and swimmers!
Our Three Blue Ducks restaurant in Byron is in the heart of one of the most beautiful locations I’ve ever been in - the ocean’s five minutes away, and then you’ve got Byron Bay lighthouse just behind you. It’s completely stunning.
Where to eat
With an abundance of amazing local produce all year round, the food scene in Byron is a reason in itself to visit. Breakfast from The Nomadic Kitchen stall at the farmers’ markets never disappoints; chef Rob is famous for his simple and delicious Sicilian-inspired dishes that change weekly.
A hinterland drive through rolling hills to the cute town of Federal for Japanese food at Doma is a local favourite, as well as the pop-up pizza nights in the tiny town of Clunes. There’s a fantastic cellar with natural wines next door, too.
For a quintessential Aussie meal, visit legendary fishmonger Freckle at Bay Seafoods, grab some fresh local prawns and eat them on the beach at sunset. For something a little more high-end, a meal at the 14-seater Fleet restaurant in Brunswick Heads is an unforgettable experience, with some of the best service, drinks and cuisine in the country. It books out months in advance, so be prepared.
It’s also worth driving north to Cabarita for a meal, or at least a drink, at the bar in the stunning (and insta-famous!) Paper Daisy restaurant at boutique hotel Halcyon House.
And a meal any time of day at our Three Blue Ducks on The Farm is a must for a true farm-to-table experience; we recommend whatever’s on special.
What to buy
Spell & The Gypsy Collective in Byron Bay is one of Byron’s proudest success stories, the creation of two local sisters who have become famous for creating beautiful boho dresses that can take you from beach to bar.
Newrybar Merchants houses an array of local designers with a mix of bespoke and handmade homewares, children’s toys and fashion. A favourite travel-friendly gift of mine is one of Jai Vasicek’s hand-painted ceramic crosses or tiles (Byron Bay is a hub of art, especially ceramics), but you will want to walk away with everything.
Habitat is another concept store featuring many beautiful local designers, and St Agni is a go-to for leather sandals.
What to pack
You’ll find everything you need for the perfect beach holiday here in Byron, but the essentials are sunnies, a beach hat, sandals, sunblock and something to throw over your swimmers when you head out for drinks after a day on the beach.
Even though Byron Bay is located in New South Wales, it's only a 1.5-hour drive to the Queensland surf city of the Gold Coast. Take the legendary Pacific Coast Touring Route for an epic road trip to Sydney, Byron and the Gold Coast.
When to go
Byron Bay has some amazing music festivals including Byron Bay Bluesfest (held in April) and Splendour in the Grass (held in July), so these are well worth going to for music and culture lovers. Luckily, the weather is beautiful any time of year in Byron Bay. We actually love the autumn and spring when the mornings are crisp, days aren’t too hot and beaches are less crowded.