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Canberra to Byron Bay—starting this Friday

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When HerCanberra announced that Canberra Airport would be offering direct flights to Ballina from 3 July, one of the many comments the article received on social media seemed to sum up the jubilation we were all feeling.

“Not quite Europe but…warm.”

Indeed, Canberrans who have had any prospect of international travel this year ripped out from underneath them needed a glimmer of hope on the horizon, and this is it.

Direct flights to Ballina—which for the vast majority of us reads as ‘Byron Bay’—means hassle-free travel to and from a semi-tropical paradise with lots to see, do and eat and a reprieve from the relentless Canberra winter chill.

From Friday, Fly Pelican will fly direct from Canberra Airport to Ballina, and by extension, facilitate an easy route to Byron Bay and Tweed Heads.

Head of Aviation, Michael Thomson, said domestic travel was slowly getting back to normal and Canberra Airport was determined to facilitate the recovery.

“Fly Pelican has been a long-time partner of Canberra Airport and we’re delighted to begin a new partnership with the Ballina Byron Gateway Airport, so we can continue to bring a wider travel offering to Canberra.”

“We are not yet back to full capacity, but with 90 flights per-week linking Canberra with Sydney, Newcastle, Brisbane and Melbourne there is a lot of opportunity for people to travel,” Mr Thomson added.

Ballina Byron Gateway Airport Manager, Julie Stewart said the new route will have a positive impact for the community.

“A key focus for us is to promote Northern Rivers NSW tourism to other parts of Australia so we’re thrilled to be working with Canberra Airport and airline partner FlyPelican in having a brand new exciting destination and look forward to welcoming Canberra locals to our beautiful part of the world.”

There is, however, no need to convince us of the merits of a break away in Byron, which has been a HerCanberra team favourite for decades.

And if we were among the lucky ones on the first flight out, we would include the following on our itinerary:

Eats

 

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Head up to Clarkes Beach to the famed Beach restaurant for a coffee overlooking the water or even a sunset cocktail.

 

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The Farm experience is a must-do for a long lunch—sample a menu mostly grown on-site at the Three Blue Ducks restaurant or grab a coffee and a delicious bakery treat from the wood-fired ovens before heading out to explore the hinterland villages.

Take a drive out of town to the gorgeous village of Newrybar for a delicious breakfast of local produce at Harvest Deli and (make sure you put it on Insta, we will be waiting…).

 

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For coastal dining, try a few local hidden gems from The Belle General at Shelleys Beach near Ballina or Shelter in Lennox Heads.  There are so many artisan and local food treats to try.

Shop

Head out to the ever-growing Byron Arts & Industrial Estate—a short five-minute drive from the Byron town centre to discover dozens of local artisans, designers and hidden gems and get among the laid-back friendly and diverse communities as well as locally made goodies.

Explore

Hire a car to explore the hinterland villages and rolling hills. Take a 45-minute drive out to Nightcap National Park to take in the majestic Minyon Falls—head to the base of the falls for a stunning two-hour return walk.

 

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Visit one of the many villages on the way including Bangalow and meander through lush farmland and groves of macadamias or coffee. If you are feeling adventurous, an ocean horseback ride from Byron is the ultimate way to take in the sea air along the beach.

On the water

Jump in a kayak for a guided dolphin spotting tour with Go Sea Kayaks or Cape Byron Kayaks or head out into the wide blue yonder to spot the giants of the ocean with a whale watching tour with Byron Bay Dive Centre or Out of the Blue Adventures.

 

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From the town of Ballina, there is much to inspire you from the pristine, uncrowded Pacific beaches and tidal bays with multiple lookouts to soak up the coastline (and spot a Whale).

On the land

Take in the incredible vista of the Cape Byron lighthouse walk and find yourself at the most Easterly point of the Australian mainland while you drink in stunning panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and Byron hinterland.

 

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World-famous for a reason, this 4km loop walk is well worth setting time aside for.

Me time

If you are enjoying a break, make sure it includes some time at many of the region’s premier spas, healing retreats and beauty centres.

The town’s idyllic surrounds naturescapes and iconic relaxed atmosphere have inspired a surge of new-age health-conscious enterprises that cater to all areas of mental and physical health.

Whether you want to re-energise with a fitness boost, rejuvenate with a detox and spa retreat or rest with a wellness getaway, surrender yourself to the fact that Byron and its surrounds have everything you need to chase those winter blues away.

For more information on how the Canberra Airport is working to keep passengers safe during and beyond COVID-19 go to canberraairport.com.au

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