Jade & Michael
Growing up in the Byron Shire was incredible but in saying that I don't know any different. I felt free and safe and part of a community that cared. Everyone knew everyone or at the least they knew someone who you knew. It was quiet and alternative which I was made incredibly aware of when we would visit the Gold Coast or Brisbane for the day. My childhood memories are filled with bike rides and waterholes in Main Arm, selling tadpoles and bush lemons to random QLD tourists in shiny 4WDrives, morning till sundown days at the pass with All the families from the hills, Sunday afternoons at the Bruns pub making frangipani garlands in the grass before it was paved, bridge jumps, mum renting an apartment in Brunswick Heads or New Brighton for summer holidays because it cost less than fuel from Main Arm every day for the beach and searching for jewellery and coins at Blues Fest at red devil park. There were many hall parties and sleeping in the pop top roof of our kombi at the hall parties. As I got older there were Doof parties in the bush and on the beach. I remember jumping on the country rail train in Mullum and riding it to Byron to hang at Top Park, underage disco nights at Cheeky Monkeys, hitchhiking around the shire and sunbaking summer away with my friends. I think it has made me open to experiences and accepting of people who are considered ‘different.’ I grew up surrounded by colourful and interesting people. I think also I was a little sheltered in the Byron bubble - when I moved to Melbourne to go to university I had a moment in the supermarket when I couldn't find NORCO milk. It was the first time I realised that there were other brands of milk! Being here as an adult with Michael and raising our 4 beautiful kids, I have a love/hate relationship. I love that the kids are being raised in my childhood home, but it makes me sad that it is so busy and overused now and the core values of what made it so special are being lost in a world of image hungry people who don't believe or live what they are selling. To me the Byron shire is about being yourself, being unique and accepting the uniqueness of everyone else. It’s a diverse mix of farmers, original hippies, surfers, bohos and hipsters. It’s not about selling a lifestyle or all wearing the same thing; it’s not about judging each other and caring if your kid is wearing the right brand or how many Instagram followers you have. I feel like some of the magic has been lost, but this shire and this land holds my memories and my life and it’s my birthplace and the birthplace of my children and I love it, regardless.