G’day nature lovers,
As a local guide I see plenty of stressed out city slickers, who come to Byron Bay needing to take some time out , de-stress and unwind. One of the best places to go, isn’t in Byron, its in the hinterland and its called the Crystal Castle.
A lot of people come to Byron Bay to slow down, relax and connect with nature. Byron is a wonderful place to unwind, enjoy the beach, do some yoga and get a massage. But if you’re looking for something deeper get out into the Byron hinterland, there are some awesome places out there like Minyon Falls , but if you’re looking for something a little less strenuous you shouldn’t miss the Crystal Castle.
The Crystal Castle is nestled in the Byron hills, far away from civilisation. It is 16 acres of gardens, rainforest, walks, crystals and of course the castle (which isn’t actually a castle, just a nickname given by the locals which stuck).
The Shambhala Gardens are one of the highlights, at the Crystal Castle. You can wander through the gardens looking, smelling and touching the amazing plants (something is always flowering in this garden). You will see statues of some Hindu deities, some petrified wood that are 200 million years old, bamboo avenue, lots of crystals and Buddha. There are plenty of places to sit and reflect, write or just be.
The Crystal Castle started regenerating the rainforest about 11 years ago, so its not a full canopy rainforest yet, but all the rainforest species and all the rainforest birds have come back. As you walk through the rainforest you’ll discover a tree that has been carved into a throne (the tree came down in a storm and the arbourist carved the throne). I love just sitting on the throne as Queen of the rainforest, watching birds and butterflies flutter about.
I see wildlife every time I go to the Crystal Castle. Look up at the trees near the pond, the labyrinth, the Damanhur spiral or the start of the rainforest walk and you may see a koala. One time I was lying on the crystal at the centre of the Damanhur spiral and I saw a koala right above me. The main place you see wildlife at the Crystal Castle is on the rainforest walk. I regularly see emerald doves, brown cuckoo doves, top knot pigeons, white headed pigeons, figbirds, scaley breasted lorikeet, lewins honey eaters and grey fantail. On occasions I’ve seen satin bowerbird, regent bowerbird, rose crowned fruit dove, echinda and pademelon.
Workshops and meditations
The Crystal Castle runs daily workshops and mediations. The 1:30 workshops include: a guided walk through the Shambhala Gardens (Monday’s), The Crystal Experience (Tuesday’s, Thursday’s Saturday’s) and one of my favourites the Music of Plants – they have a device that turns the energy created by plants into music (Wednesday’s, Friday’s and Sunday’s). Plus they have at 3:10 daily a not to miss Peace Experience, which is a guided meditation with crystal singing bowls. The Peace Experience is divine, and even if you’re not into meditations or happy clappy, peace, love and mung beans you will find it relaxing and blissful.
The prize of the hinterland, isn’t the easiest place to get to, but it is well worth it. The Crystal Castle is open 10am-5pm daily and costs $28pp to get in (they have locals discounts), everyone gets a guide book on entry and can attend the daily workshops and meditations. You can drive there from Byron, its about 20 minutes. There are no public buses that go there and even though Mullumbimby is only 6km away, you can’t walk up the road from Mullum to the Crystal Castle as it is steep, narrow, windy and has no shoulder for walking or cycling. I run half day Crystal Castle Tours from Byron 3-4 times a week for $60pp which includes the entry fee, transport and a 10 minute orientation.
After a half day at the Crystal Castle 3-4 hours, doing the walks, meditations and workshops I literally see people’s stress replaced with peace and serenity, its like they’re floating on a cloud -its magic.
Have you been to the Crystal Castle? Share your favourite memories here.
Enjoy your journey