How laid-back Byron Bay is becoming Australia’s boutique fashion capital

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Byron Bay, between Sydney and Brisbane, has long been a favourite with hippies and surfers, and now a new generation of fashion entrepreneurs are moving in, leaving behind the big cities and embracing beach town life.

Once best-known for being the most easterly point of mainland Australia and for its surfers and hippies, the sleepy coastal village of Byron Bay has been so inundated by urban hipsters of late, it’s been nicknamed “the new Bondi”.

Located 800 kilometres north of Sydney, a two-hour drive south of Brisbane, the town of 9,000 and its environs are now home to some of Australia’s biggest music festivals. These can see Byron Shire’s wider population of 30,000 easily double and even quadruple during events such as Splendour In The Grass and Bluesfest.

With a dozen surfing beaches and luxury resorts and Airbnb rentals, Byron is also a popular tourist destination, attracting more than two million holidaymakers each year.

But beyond the ephemeral visitors, more people are choosing to make a permanent move there – Among them, a swarm of creative refugees from Australia’s booming big cities.

KPMG demographer Bernard Salt calls them ‘Lifestylepreneurs’, identifying the region as one of Australia’s top entrepreneurial hotspots in a report released last August by the federal government operated NBN, which is rolling out Australia’s National Broadband Network. Salt noted a four per cent uptick in Byron Bay start-ups since 2016 and 18 per cent business growth in the Byron Bay Hinterland towns since 2014.

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