Anywhere is Possible: Remote working from Byron Bay

By Rob Griffiths,

Difficulties with remote working

If you’ve read the previous posts in my series on remote working (catch the last one here) life as a digital nomad has treated me pretty well so far, however it’s not all fun and games. There are  a number of problems with working remotely from around the world. Most notably you’re away from friends and family for long periods, and if you’re on the other side of the world there’s only a limited time window in which you can catch up with them. You also never feel particularly settled, bouncing from place to place means you forfeit the security of a permanent residence. You always have to be wary that you need to fit everything into a suitcase – there’s no room to take 7 pairs of trainers with you, only the bare minimum can make the trip. Then there’s the need to always have a good internet connection, which will not be a problem in most big cities, however if you want to visit somewhere a bit more remote then it can be a deal breaker. It was in Byron that I first encountered this problem.

Byron Bay – Too Remote to Work?

Known for its sublime beaches, incredible surf and free-spirited vibe, Byron is a popular destination for many travellers. It was this reputation that enticed me to include it as a stop on my travels up the Eastern Coast of Australia. Getting to Byron was the first challenge – it’s more remote than I realised. Coming from a country the size of the UK it’s easy to underestimate the sheer size of Australia – what may look like a short hop up the road from a quick glance at a map could easily be a several hour drive. Fortunately Byron is well served by various coaches, so it is not difficult to get to, it just takes a while!

Byron was also smaller than I anticipated, it’s a fun little town with a great vibe and beautiful beaches, however the infrastructure is not up to the standards of a larger city. The internet connectivity at my apartment was intermittent at best, and it was a similar story using the WiFi at the cafes I tried. The one place I found a reliable internet connection was at the local library. An impressive, modern building right by the beach this was the perfect place to set up base. The perfect place, that was, until I hit the 2-hour limit on using the internet for non-members. With no way to become a member without being a local resident, not even through bribery, it was back to the frustrating stop-start connection reminiscent of the glory days of dial-up.

 

People taking advantage of Byron Bays famous surf

Surfs Up

My struggles with connectivity made it difficult to fully relax and really enjoy my time in Byron. This was a shame as it’s clearly a fun place to be. There’s a unique vibe around the place that it’s hard not to get caught up in. There are plenty of great places to eat & drink as well as regular live music, or if yoga is your thing then there are few better places to enjoy a morning stretch than Byron’s sandy beaches. Then there’s the reason that most people are attracted to Byron – the world-famous surf. Miles of coastline with endless waves breaking it really is a surfers paradise.

One thing that I did manage to enjoy was the lighthouse walk, which I would thoroughly recommend. It’s a fairly long (4.5km) and steep walk so take plenty of water, but offers great views of Byron’s golden coastline and if you’re lucky you may even spot a pod of dolphins out at sea.

 

Lighthouse atop the most easterly point of the Australian mainland

Byron Bay Digital Nomad score: 1/10

Unfortunately my time working remotely in Byron Bay was not overly successful. Being unable to find a reliable internet connection causes obvious issues, and just adds unnecessary stress and wasted time to your day. It is, however, somewhere I would recommend visiting – just make sure it’s for a holiday and you won’t need to work whilst there!