Strolling along Byron Bay’s beaches you may come across kids building sand castles and occasionally some impressive artists’ creations. However the fun doesn’t stop at the beach.
Just inland, the Byron Bay Hinterland is home to two more castles to explore – the Macadamia Castle and the Crystal Castle.
The Macadamia Castle is located just south of Newrybar and is hard to miss with a gigantic knight standing guard out front. Inside, the cosy café offers meals and snacks made from local and often organic produce. In fact the menu shows the ‘food miles’ for each item so you know your meal supports local farmers as well as the planet.
Speaking of local, you’ll notice that the Macadamia Castle is surrounded by coffee farms as well as macadamias so enjoy a fresh barista coffee with cake or a stack of pancakes with macadamia sauces. Oh, did I mention the ice cream? While you’re waiting for your meal you can stroll through the gift shop. As the castle’s name implies, you’ll find many variations on the macadamia theme. The Nut Bar sells everything from raw or roasted to chilli or wasabi macadamias. There are macadamia and tea tree creams and lotions, locally crafted preserves, gifts, fashions and toys all on offer.
Many families come to the Macadamia Castle to spend the day, celebrate a birthday or have a picnic in their Animal Fun and Adventure Park. Yes there’s a real Aussie zoo out back, plus an 18-hole miniature golf course and kid-sized train ride. What could be more fun than that?
Heading north of Byron along the Coolamon Scenic Drive you can follow the signs to the Crystal Castle. Set in lush rainforest the first thing you’ll notice is the silence. Instead of the hum of traffic we’ve all grown accustomed to you’ll hear individual bird calls, and feel the peaceful aura that has been so lovingly created here.
It’s hard to believe that 27 years ago this beautiful area was logged and grazed bare. Now you’ll find bamboo groves, shaded paths winding among carp pools, a labyrinth maze and the Shambhala Gardens where glittering crystals and giant statues of Buddha and Ganesh await.
The Crystal Castle has become a cultural resource for many offering workshops and seminars, the daily peace experience, Buddha walk, crystal gallery, sound healing (the singing bowls are amazing!), aura photography, book shop, art gallery and exquisite jewellery. For those looking for more insight into their life, Tarot readings are available and the readers often incorporate astrology, psychic and palm readings for their clients.
While many come to meditate and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere and panoramic views of the Byron Hinterland, there is also a children’s playground to keep the young ones entertained, and face painting on weekends and school holidays. The Lotus Café provides beautiful coffees, cakes and lunches with more and more of the produce coming from their onsite organic gardens.
Last year, the Kalachakra World Peace Stupa was built at the Crystal Castle and this week the Gyuto Monks have returned to celebrate the stupa’s first birthday with daily meditation, kids’ events, talks, ceremonies, mantra chanting and creation of the Green Tara String Mandala of Compassion. On Saturday the 12th of October, entry to the Crystal Castle will be free so come have a spin of the prayer wheels and join in the celebrations.