Byron Bay : hippies, yuppies and hipsters

Schnicka writes: Byron Bay - hippies, yuppies and hipsters make new age yipsters

I honestly thought I had invented a new word – the ‘yipster’. But it turns out I’ve already been beaten to the punch. However I’m not disappointed; I’m more convinced.

What do you get when you cross a hippie with a yuppie and a hipster..? A yipster.

That’s how I came to inventing this word. Then I Googled it and discovered, yet again, that the Internet is way ahead of me. The word ‘yipster’ has been around since the 1980′s! A yipster is part yuppie and part hipster [see Wikipedia ] My definition, the Byron Bay version, includes the new age hippie (in some cases greenie) in the equation. So I’m classifying this hybrid-fusion as the New Age Yipster

DISCLOSURE: Am I stereotyping? Not deliberately. It’s all based on observation, no more or less than what I probably receive in return when I’m observed in a group of my peers. What I’m getting at is that I’m not aiming to insult anyone.

When I moved to Byron Bay there was no shying away from the fact that, like all well-known places, this  place is known and identified by its people and their social, economic and political culture.  If there was a Family Feud style Top 7 words that you associate with Byron Bay they would easily be:








Byron Bay is probably more widely known for its hippie history than it’s whaling or abattoir origins. This history is somewhat at odds with its evolution into becoming one of the most expensive places to rent in Australia. Young hipsters starting families are opting out of big cities for the unique sea and tree change on offer in Byron Bay – if you can afford it. The Yuppie x Hipster can. Byron Bay is full of interesting lifestyle paradoxes.

A great place to start learning about the town you’ve just moved to, in 60 minutes or less, is by visiting your local supermarket at peak hour.  My mantra was not to judge, not to stereotype, avoid clichéd labels (which in itself is kind of funny because I tend to favour the freaks as friends).

The car park of this supermarket was a 50/50 split between old travelling vans or Subaru station-wagons, with brand new luxury 4WDs and SUVs, don’t stereotype don’t judge. As I entered the supermarket I was greeted by a hairy guitar-playing busker with dreadlocks sitting cross-legged by the sliding doors with his dog, don’t stereotype don’t judge. The next thing I noticed was how it seemed as if I was the only person wearing shoes, don’t stereotype don’t judge. The first item on special I noticed was a giant pallet of coconut water, don’t stereotype don’t judge. The ratio of organic to non-organic produce and groceries was impressive, don’t stereotype don’t judge. 

The thing that horrified me was the average price of goods, not just the organic ones. For a large chain supermarket the prices are noticeably higher, yet it didn’t seem to stop shoppers from filling their trolleys (in a way that would identify them as a local not just a tourist). The other thing that struck me was the amount of young European and South American folk shopping there (I soon found out that Byron plays host to many long-term backpackers; some holidaying and some staying to attend the local English language college)

I walked up and down every aisle people-watching and shelf exploring. The only thing missing was a section dedicated to incense, tie-dyed manchester and yoga mats, don’t stereotype don’t judge! As I finally made my way to the check-out, determined to not stereotype or judge, I looked up at the friendly smiling face of the young female cashier whose name badge read, ‘Ochre’.


The Far Side of Byron Bay

The Far Side of Byron Bay, Schnicka

After living with cows for over 6 months, I now realise how right Larson’s The Far Side illustrations are. Accurate beyond funny.

When you spend much of your day on your own (writing or procrastinating from writing) there is a tendency to start talking to yourself. The beauty of farm life is the wonderful realisation that you’re not alone. I seem to have an organic menagerie who have become my friends and will happily listen to every word I say, and agree with me, in exchange for food and water.

It started with an Australian Brush Turkey (or scrub turkey, or bush turkey – whatever your preference) who had a practice of visiting at dusk every day looking for scraps. He would come down the hill, circle the yard, pass along the back of the house and then into the neighbour’s place. He made a soft honking noise, and hence I named him Honky. It was nice knowing I would see him at the same time each day.  One day he stopped visiting – I think he found a better gig up the road. Months later a baby Brush Turkey took up where he left off – I call him Honkey Jnr.

Then a curious magpie cottoned-on to the fact that I was serving up breadcrumbs and decided to get in on the act a little earlier in the afternoon. This quickly became of family of 5 magpies for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. I hand feed them and one of them who is missing a claw nail serenades when he is full. I call him Julio.

Now I serve Sunflower seeds to Eastern Rosellas, Sulphur Crested Cockatoos, Galahs, Butcher birds and other assorted smaller feathered friends. I recently noticed a couple of Plovers trying to move in, however that seems to be the subject of an ongoing turf-war between them and rival Magpie families.

I talk to them all and they cock their heads to one side feigning a deep interest in all I have to say. When I water my plants they remind me to fill their bird bath. Swim time has a curious pecking order; it starts with the smaller birds and then everyone takes a turn at fluttering around in the large water dish until it gets to the Magpies who are like the big kid who bombs the pool and empties out all the water.

The cows are different altogether. It’s as if they want to be friends with me, but don’t want me to be friends with them. [Repeat that a few times and it eventually makes sense]. My first impressions after trying to approach a few over a fence, were that they are scared and shy. That all changed when I left the gate between the paddock and the backyard open. Talk about invite yourselves in and make yourselves at home! Good grief! They ate the mint from the pots on the balcony, drank from the bird bath and pooped all over the driveway! I sat and watched one stick its head into my laundry to see what the noise was (coming from the washing machine) and woke up one morning to the loud sounds of munching and crunching outside my bedroom window where the mint grows wild.

I was a slow learner, and the gate got left open on a few more occasions before I got the message. However, each time I would get to know a little more about each cow and just how very different they are in behaviour and personality. I started out yelling at them, and then guilt made me tone it down to stern words. Before I knew it I had named nearly half the herd, and yes, I have my favourites.

Clearly I’m exposing my lack of farm experience and maybe after a few more months the fascination will wear off (I doubt it).  I’ve taken so many photos that I’m starting up an album. While I get that together, here are a couple of my favorite Larson comics that ring true…

Gary Larson, Schnicka

ding dong


Less Stuff More Life

less stuff more life by schnicka
The Virgo in me loves to spring clean and declutter. I try to apply the 6 month rule wherever possible. It’s like the reverse of the 30 second food-on-the-floor rule; if it hasn’t been used in the last 6 months – it’s out!
Moving house is always a good time to clean out the cupboards, if only to save on packing. This time I am subscribing to the Alison Moyet approach (remember that amazing singer from the 80′s?). Recently she moved house:
‘I dumped everything. Even my gold discs. I smashed the lot. I took a hammer to them. And I’m not beinglairy, but there were hundreds. It was brilliant. All my stageclothes – gone. I love it. And I burned all my diaries. I really don’t want to own things. It just drags you down.’

Apparently she didn’t stop there, she went all the way and filled skip bins. This is pretty hard core, however on a follow up interview with Graham Norton she talked about how liberating it was, and she has no regrets. She tossed out everything but the kids.

It begs the question – how much stuff do we really need?

You don’t have to be a ‘hoarder’ to realise that we could all shed some stuff.

How many beach towels do we need or use?
There are 7 days in the week – so how many pairs of knickers and bras are necessary?

Are a lot of t-shirts a ‘collection’ or just excess?
(keeping in mind that shoes and books don’t enter the equation)

Is more than 2 sets of cutlery required?

Do we have to keep every single painting, award, ribbon, medal, certificate, school report and wonky piece of craft that our children bring home?

Why do I have eleventy-eight cake tins and ramekin bowls?

So out it all goes.

The little old ladies at the op shop started out grateful as I brought car loads of useful items in good condition to them. Now they look at me funny and don’t say much; I think they are worried that I may start leaving pets and cars with them.

This period in time shall forever be known in our family as ‘The Great Purge of 2013′. I feel fantastic about it! I am replacing things with life experiences and it really feels good.

[If possible I would also like to shed the unnecessary kgs like Alison Moyet too - if you remember her from the 80's you cannot help but notice her fabulous weight loss.]