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Australasia & Pacific

On The Road: Alternative living at its best in Australia

Prompted by a sign on the way to the beach, I decide to treat myself to a yoga lesson. There's nothing that strange about my yoga teacher having a partner who reads tarot cards – it's that kind of place. What is strange, though, is the fact that I'm sitting in front of said tarot reader 30 minutes after my first yoga lesson, despite my usual scorn for such things

My cynicism disappears amazingly quickly as parts of my character (and not the best parts at that) are laid bare. It is a strange and somewhat surreal experience and I leave on slightly shaky legs, desperately in need of one of the town's renowned organic coffees.

Byron Bay, 750km north of Sydney, is one of life's oddities. Here the rich live alongside earthy, back-to-nature types. Throw into the mix the backpackers and surfers who make regular pilgrimages to this effortlessly laid-back east coast town and you have a combination which just shouldn't work; and yet it does. No one here cares who you are or what you do – it's about the sort of person you are inside. (And if, like me, you still haven't figured that out, there are plenty of people who'll take your Australian dollars and tell you). There are no high-rise hotels nor fast food chains here – it's alternative, spiritual and organic living at its best.

I guess it shouldn't come as surprise, then, that as I sit watching the sun set over the beach, sipping my Byron Bay Ale (even the beer in this town is "naturally brewed using nature's finest ingredients"), I realise that I too have fallen under its spell. My good intentions of exploration and adventure (a tandem flight over the beach, or trying my hand at surfing perhaps) remain nothing more than good, but unfulfilled, intentions.

Disappointed? Far from it. I leave Byron refreshed and reinvigorated, and keeping my eye open for that tall, dark, handsome Kiwi I've been promised.

Footprint's East Coast Australia (£13.99) is available now