It’s rare for a band to have time off during a tour and it is even rarer to be able to spend that time in the magical hinterland of Byron Bay and it’s surroundings. I have taken photos of Portugal. The Man on the road all across the US this year, but this time was something completely different.  We were lucky to be based in Byron for 6 days with shows either end on the Gold Coast, Brunswick and of course Byron.

Byron has so much to offer, from quiet serene bush walks and hikes, to faster paced activities including hang gliding, surfing and hidden rock swings. We tried our hand at all of the above, as well as indulging in every type of food and drink that Byron could throw at us.

I jumped in the van on Monday morning leaving the Gold Coast, en route to Byron. It seemed as though every muscle was aching for each band member having played 5 shows around the Sunshine Coast, Brisbane and the Gold Coast the previous few days. The van was quiet, the traffic was slow – however the jams were good. Great in fact, thanks to the bands’ pal DJ Black Daniels, who’d put together a hip-hop based travel playlist.  We eased into the heady heights of Byron just as the midday sun was scorching through tropical clouds.

Shippy the US Tour manager decided to show his culinary skills that night and cooked up a ‘real American’ bbq – which involved a lot of spices and wings. Night walking along the beach was spectacular due to the ever-present flashing beacon from the Lighthouse.

We took an easy walk the next day to the lighthouse, the sky low and ominous. I managed to take some shots amongst the rocks with John, who is always ready to go that extra mile for the camera. Later that day we took a little trip up to the quaint colonial style town of Bangalow, which allowed us to see just how good the Alaskan bred Zach and John are on rifle based arcade games.

Wednesday was a busy day. We found ourselves following our local legend pal, Yeo from the Roadhouse, out through mountain ranges and dirt roads, eventually arriving at the biggest rope swing any of us had ever seen. It took some time (fears allayed and spurred on by each other) with eventually everyone taking a jump, some with better results than others, right Zach?\

We pit stopped in at a Lismore pub for some food and a quick break. We were clearly the ‘out of towners’ in this classic railway style tavern. After a bite to eat, we arrived back in Byron just in time for the band to take a swift lesson or two from Taylor Steele on the finer points of how to surf. Kyle seemed to have the magic board, as he scored multiple rides to the beach, looking right at home in the Pacific Ocean.

Friday morning, Jason and Zach decided to jump off the headlands at Lennox Heads, strapped to a stranger with some wings. It was so much fun to see the exhilaration on the boys faces, before and after their experience.

We wound up our stay in Byron on Sunday after 3 shows in the region. I always enjoy the calming ease of Byron and the happy attitude of the locals. It sure is a special place.

Photos & Words: Maclay Heriot