Do you remember that circa 1980s Cussons Imperial Leather television advertisement where a bronzed wealthy family is bathing in individual marble tubs on board a private jet airplane? The daughter plays blithely in a swan shaped fountain while the husband who is reading the Fin Review pours his wife, who looks a lot like Princess Anne, another glass of champagne. The wife peruses a fashionable magazine and sultrily says to her man: “Tahiti looks nice.” Like a hen-pecked obliging husband he punctually picks up the gilded telephone and requests the plane’s pilot, Simon, to divert to Tahiti pronto. The airplane banks and they fasten their seat belts. I’m not sure how the bottle of champas stays in place or how the water doesn’t spill out of the bath … maybe the laws of physics don’t apply when you’re rich and flying at 38,000 feet!
Anyway, enduring an eight-hour flight on a low cost carrier airplane this week with a plastic cup of Jacob’s Creek Classic Chardonnay balanced precariously on my tray table, I was dreaming about owning my own private jet and where I would fly. The Amalfi Coast came to mind – the perfect panacea to our Aussie Winter right now – or any one of a number of Pacific Islands where I could defrost my bones on a secluded beach sipping from a fresh coconut. Either would do just fine. Then it dawned on me, while escaping to warmer climes on a private jet sounds darn good, I would always ensure that I booked the same return flight. “Simon, Bangalow please,” I would request, “and can I please have another glass of Margaret River Chardy?”
Bangalow has been my hometown for nigh on 15 years. I’m almost a local! The village of less than a few thousand residents is located a quarter of an hour’s drive inland from the beaches of Byron Bay. Bangalow has a charming character built on its historic architecture, the surrounding family farms, a genuine and active community spirit and the simple, country foundations that us ‘Bangalowians’ hold onto. The main street has a tasteful array of boutique shopping and great eating options and draws a constant flow of tourists from north of the border. But there is so much more to living in Bangalow than what meets the eye. As I sat in cattle class on that airplane earlier this week, ruminating on these thoughts and my pre-ordered meal of what was supposedly Biryani, I jotted down a few of the reasons why Bangalow is such a great town to come home to.
Billycart Derby: Sunday, 17 May, 2015
The main street of Bangalow is closed for one Sunday every May as hundreds of Billycart drivers – young and old – roll their hand built wheels down the hill past the cheering crowds who set up camp behind hay bale barriers that line the street. There are usually a few tumbles and spills and a disparate yard of carts on display – from the simplistic timber old school models to ones that have been engineered with precision and a welder and look like they could fit a car engine. It’s a fantastic family day out. www.bangalowbillycart.com.au
Sample Food Festival: Saturday, 5 September, 2015
The Sample Food Festival, now in its fifth year, is held outdoors once a year in the Bangalow Showgrounds and people come from all over the country to celebrate the great food that the Northern Rivers has to offer. Local restaurants and food businesses sell ‘sample’ food plates to visitors who can dine all day while watching cooking demonstrations and competitions, buying fresh produce at the farmers market, listening to music with a local restorative Stone and Wood beer as well as attending several ticketed side events. I wouldn’t miss it! www.samplensw.com
Bangalow Show: Friday, 20 and Saturday, 21 November, 2015
The annual show is also held in the Bangalow Showgrounds and is a wonderful country affair with cooking, art, livestock, bird and craft competitions for children and adults. It’s a community affair indeed – I even won a First Place ribbon once in the orchid section! The tart baking section is highly competitive and the Best Tart in Show prize is a much sought after accolade. There are rides, food, the Showgirl competition, events in horse-riding and dog agility plus plenty more. The Show concludes with an impressive fireworks display that I can watch from my home verandah. How cool is that! www.bangalowshow.com.au
Christmas Eve Festival: Thursday, 24 December, 2015
Once again, the main street of Bangalow closes for this annual evening festival. I think it is my favourite event on the Bangalow calendar. The shops, cafés and restaurants are open, there are food stalls, the Lions barbeque, Christmas carolers and local entertainment such as The Space Cowboy and the Samba Blisstas drumming group. You can indulge in a Christmas Eve tipple in the street and it is a wonderful opportunity to wish fellow villagers a Merry Christmas as most of Bangalow’s residents venture out for this one.
I have counted 11 places to eat in Bangalow’s main street. They are deserving of a post of their own, so stay tuned for that one.
There is great shopping available in the main street and in adjacent Station Street too. Everything from clothing, homewares, artworks, books, music and gifts. When the beach turns sour the beach loving tourists make the journey up the hill to Bangalow for some quality retail therapy and food!
My local. A beautiful old pub with a renovated deck that’s great during Summer and a cosy indoor lounge complete with a log fire and art deco couches for Winter. You will always run into someone you know at this historic pub. There is entertainment most nights and after-work Meat Raffles every Friday. Great food is served from the adjoining Bangalow Dining Rooms where you can order a delicious a la carte style meal or bar snacks. www.bangalowhotel.com.au
Bangalow Farmers Market: Every Saturday 8am – 11am
The markets are held in the car park behind the Bangalow Hotel every Saturday morning. Get here early as the popular producers can sell out! My picks are the Coopers Shoot Tomatoes, Nimbin Valley Dairy Cheeses and Milks, Hayters Hill Meat and Eggs and The Witches Broomstick Mushrooms.
Sunday Markets: Fourth Sunday of every month
The monthly markets are held in the Bangalow Showgrounds under the shade of the beautiful Camphor Laurel trees. You will find all sorts of hand made goodies including gifts, plants, clothing, food, jewellery, art and craft and there is always musical entertainment. www.bangalowmarket.com.au
A delightful bed and breakfast style accommodation located on the banks of the picturesque Byron Creek and just a two minute walk to the centre of the village. The guesthouse is an historic home that has been tastefully renovated to include four individual suites. You can book a suite or the whole house for a special occasion. Walking home from dinner and drinks in town during Summer I often get to peep in on stylish weddings being held under marquees in the guesthouse’s landscaped gardens. Love. www.bangalowguesthouse.com.au