What you need to know about Byron Bay, the Aussie town taking on a Netflix reality show

They don’t want no drama.

Byron Bay from above
Byron Bay from above

When Netflix announced Byron Baes, an upcoming docu-soap centred around Instagrammers and influencers on the sun-soaked sands of Byron Bay they probably thought they’d unearthed Australia’s answer to Keeping Up With The Kardashians. Instead, the show’s generated an angry petition with nearly 7,000 signatures, and a scathing attack from the local mayor.

Described as “a love letter” to the coastal town, Byron Baes will feature “hot instagrammers living their best lives”, and promises “fights, flings and heartbreak” with “#nofilter guaranteed”. Byron Bay will be a backdrop to all the shenanigans – “the playground of more celebrity-adjacent-adjacent influencers than you can shake a selfie stick at.”

Unfortunately, local residents think Byron Bay is already quite influential enough, and are concerned the show will cast the region as a ‘reality show punchline’ and have called for boycotts against film crews, citing harm to Byron’s reputation, environment, and community.

Byron Shire mayor Simon Richardson went even further, telling ABC the show was “offensive” to the region. “We’ve almost got a Truman Show-type portrayal of who we are where everything is quite idyllic and superficial,” he said, “where out the back it’s an empty parking lot.”

Sumptuous sun and sand

Set on the easternmost point of the Australian mainland, overlooked by the historic Cape Byron Lighthouse, the town has wowed generations of visitors with the delights of both land and sea.

With a subtropical climate, far removed from Australia’s arid Red Centre, rainforest rises just a stone’s throw from the beach, and the surrounding hills are a hiker’s dream. Snorkelling and surfing make up the bulk of Byron’s aquatic activities, while by night the beachside bars play up to the ‘seaside town’ stereotype.

Surfers at sunset, The Pass, Byron Bay, New South Wales, Australia

Spas and wellness facilities abound on the town’s tree-lined streets, and in many of the resorts, morning yoga is practically mandatory. In normal years the town hosts a music festival, Bluesfest, which has sadly been cancelled two years running.

An Instagrammer’s playground

Despite the protestations, it’s easy to see why Byron Bay was picked for a show about Instagram filters and celebrity. Two of the Hemsworth brothers have properties there, while sightings of Zac Efron, Natalie Portman and Matt Damon have seen the town nicknamed ‘the new LA’.

Once known as a hippie hotspot, today’s visitors are more boho-chic than boho, but influencers are one drop in an annual flood.

A Mecca for backpackers and bus groups alike, in 2019, Byron Bay was named one of 98 destinations worldwide severely suffering from overtourism, by UK tour operators Responsible Travel.

A paradise already lost

Byron has long been a victim of its own popularity, and some have suggested that Byron Baes is simply the last horse out the stable door. Overtourism is so rampant that some travellers make a point of avoiding the town rather than visiting it, and settlements up and down the east coast are jockeying to become ‘the New Byron’.

Byron Bay

“We’ve got a community that is in real stress, that has real life issues dealing with housing, work, affordability,” says Mayor Richardson, while the petition drew attention to housing affordability, coastal erosion, increasing unemployment, traffic management challenges, and more.

Rumours abound about cast members, but none have yet been confirmed, and some onlookers remain determined to keep it that way. “Can the Baes survive the summer without a collab going wrong?” asks the press release. Based on the growing backlash, probably not.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in