Traveller turned Byron Bay local CHRIS STEVENS explains how the small town with the big reputation persuaded him to stay… Part of the writers’ guidelines for this fine publication bans words such as ‘mecca’ and ‘paradise’. Now I’ll be honest with you, I could pretty much utilize every single clichéd travel phrase in the opening paragraph of this article about life in [Byron Bay]. But editors will be editors, so I am forced to find a new vocabulary to describe a place I view as a travellers m***a and a p******e for surfers… but I digress. Another thing I’ll be honest about is that when I drove into Byron for the first time, I didn’t rate it too highly. The weather was crap, I was tired, and the promise of peeling blue surf crashing onto picture perfect white beaches was non-existent… no swell, no sun, no fun. However, luckily the missus made me stick it out for a few days and I’m glad she did, because now – four months on – I’m living and working in the Bay and I can happily write that this is my home away from home. So, what’s got me hooked into the ‘Byron Bubble’ and why does every backpacker rant and rave about this small little hippy seaside town? Well that’s what this piece is all about… NIGHTLIFE By far one of the biggest draws for any backpacker is the promise of intoxicated nights of unadulterated debauchery. Well, Byron has that by the bucket load! There’s a good number of options for a night out, with drinks offers to match. Cheeky Monkeys – one of the east coast’s most infamous clubs. If you want to get drunk, dance on tables and eat on the cheap this is the place to be. Byron local Cockatoo Paul summed it up perfectly at this year’s birthday bash, “it’s responsible for more backpacker sex than anywhere else in Oz”. Enough said! Aquarius Bar – this newly refurbed bar offers some of the best happy prices in town and its in-house drink – “Jungle Juice” – is a bargain at $3 a schooner. It also offers a more social atmosphere where you can hear people over the music, while nightly games offer a great way to meet people and get free stuff. Cocomangas – slightly more upmarket and boasting an impressive cocktail list, this place is ideal if your trying to impress on a date. Make sure you try a ‘Jam Jar’, a sticky concoction of vodka, Malibu and fruit juice… yum yum! The Beachy – more of a locals hangout so a nice break from vomiting backpackers. Great for live music, especially the Sunday Sessions overlooking Main Beach. Buddah Bar – attached to the legendary Arts Factory, the Buddah Bar offers great music, open mic nights and a daily happy hour (5-7pm) where you can get two schooners of home-brewed, 100 per cent natural Byron Bay beer for $5. The Rails – this place deserves a mention for the fact it’s the only place in Byron you can get a full pint! It’s also a great live music venue.