Australia’s first female-led boutique dispensary opens in Byron.
Australia’s first female-led boutique dispensary opens in Byron.
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s an asteroid Astrid Dispensary, and whilst it’s fair to say that intro errs on the side of cringe, there’s a striking parallel here. When an asteroid hits, it’s called an ‘impact event’. Kinda (very much) like when an Astrid Dispensary launches, changing up the chemist caper for all the right reasons, and making waves as an industry leader in the plant-based medicines space.
Astrid Dispensary is Australia’s first female-led dispensary (#galpower) and boutique pharmacy specialising in alternative medicine. First opening in Melbourne two years ago, the second Astrid was unveiled in Byron Bay in February. Creating a coherent pathway between practitioner, pharmacist and patient via cannabinoid medicines, plant-based therapies and nutraceuticals, Byron was the obvs choice for an encore. Plus, it means we can now access Astrid via road not air and ‘weed’ be mad not to celebrate this.
Acting as a bridge for suitable patients to effectively access legal cannabis prescriptions independent from the regulations of standard pharmacy practices, Astrid is a gamechanger. Although medical-grade cannabis can now be legally prescribed, statistics show that the complex process of attaining a prescription leads most Aussies to source it illegally. Business Founder, the savvy and passionate Lisa Nguyen, is determined to change this, remove the stigma, and make the process easier for those who need it.
A clinical pharmacist with extensive experience in the medicinal cannabis industry and empathy for days, Lisa has definitely scratched a very itchy itch. For over five years, she has worked within the ever-evolving industry of plant-based medicine, fuelling her fire to change the status quo. As a medical science liaison, her role has been to educate doctors, nurses and pharmacists about the benefits of cannabis in a pharmaceutical context, making her the perfect entrepreneur to launch a specialist pharmacy brand like Astrid.
Independent to clinics, distributors and suppliers, Astrid stocks all plant medicine brands that are legally available in Australia via prescription. Staunch believers that the medication decision should be determined between doctor and patient, their team of pharmacists focus on service, education and support to ensure a smooth post-prescription journey. And it’s won some impressive awards along the way, including Dispensary of the Year 2021 at the Cannabis Industry Awards.
Sophisticated, modern and transformative, Astrid is not only an eco-system for access and education of plant-based medicines, but a destination for premium skincare brands, evidence-based gut health solutions and plant-based body care products. Aesthetically, she is a natural beauty from pillar to post. Subverting clinical and cold perceptions of the traditional pharmacy, the design reflects the calm and comforting sensibilities of plant-based medicines. It abstracts the traditional space with an open-plan design, integrating the retail space and dispensary for greater human-to-human interaction. These elements contribute to a more tailored, cohesive experience between patient and pharmacist.
Simply put, Astrid is the first of her kind. An innovator, a trailblazer, and an exception to every rule; naturally. So friends, let the experts at this truly amazing pharmacy help you navigate your holistic health journey. And if you’re still on the fence about visiting Astrid, our advice is a unanimous “just ‘doob’ it”.
Where: Suites 57-58, 1 Porter Street, Byron Bay
Words by Bianca Trathen.
Sundays are reserved for one of three purposes; chilling with the fam and getting prepped for the week ahead, sneaking in a little Sunday sesh to delay Monday as long as humanly possible, and our fave, a spot of road trippin!
We’re lucky on the GC as we’re inundated with scenic drive options, and only need to travel an hour or two to find lots of beautiful, unique sights and activities.
We’ve broken it down to five destinations and provided a small snapshot of what you can find at each.
A trip up the mountain isn’t complete without a stroll along Gallery Walk. It’s a melting pot of eclectic finds, with over 70 shops in the one block. You’ll find everything from fashion, jewellery, arts and crafts, cellar door outlets, chocolate, fudge, food outlets, cafes…and even a cuckoo clock shop. If you’re looking for something unique or need to buy that friend who has everything a gift, chances are you’ll find something here.
Where: Long Road, Tamborine Mountain
Enjoy a beautiful walk through the rain-drenched Eucalyptus forest to the magical Curtis Falls. Wander past towering trees and through a canopy of ferns, down to this miniature and photogenic waterfall. The 1.1km walk should only talk half an hour or less to get down to the falls, but you will likely want to stay awhile and soak up the peacefulness. Top it off with a spot of morning tea at the Curtis Falls Cafe. Lovely!
Where: 16 Eagle Heights Road, North Tamborine – Get there via Eagle Heights Road and park right at the entrance to the walk.
This 18-acre working distillery is the darling of the Scenic Rim. A Prohibition-style space with an established vineyard, lush rolling meadows and of course, a generous gin and cocktail bar, there’s a lot to love. Settle in for a bev or a feed, or BYO picnic rug and chill amongst the vineyards. You can partake in complimentary lawn games if you so desire, and they’re pro pop here so Fido can come too!
Where: 89-123 Hartley Road, Tamborine Mountain
The Glow Worm Caves
Take a guided half-hour walk through lush rainforest to a purpose-built cave, filled with thousands of shimmery glow worms! Everyone can get up close and personal with a glow worm here without damaging delicate wild habitats #CueApplause. And the best part? It’s conveniently located in the Cedar Creek Estate Vineyard and Winery, you can enjoy a tipple pre or post tour…or pre and post tour!
Where: Cedar Creek Estate, 104-144 Hartley Road, North Tamborine
Mountview Alpaca Farm
Located in O’Reilly’s Canungra Valley Vineyard, you can meet alpacas and drink wine and srsly, life made. Choose between 15 and 60 minute alpaca experiences where you can walk and feed these cute creatures, or go all out with an alpaca picnic, alpaca devonshire tea, or a wine, cheese and alpaca package (#us). Set in a boutique vineyard and historic Queenslander homestead, it’s as picturesque as it is fun.
Where: 852 Lamington National Park Road, Canungra
Farm & Co.
No doubt Instagram has informed you there is a field of sunflowers just a short 25 minute drive away where you can frolic, take selfies, pick said sunflowers and generally pretend you don’t have a care in the world. There’s also a coffee shop where you can sink into an oversized lounge chair while gazing at the sunflowers and contemplating a new career in farming, live music of a weekend, a tasty array of brunch eats and fresh veggies you can take home too.
Where: 529 Cudgen Road, Cudgen
Check out restful riverside town Chinderah, stopping in for a refreshment and snack at The Chindy. Also known as Chinderah Tavern, The Chindy boasts a big old deck overlooking the widest river in the world (not a fact) and supplies all the cold beer, wine and tasty eats you could wish for on a Sunday afternoon. There’s live music, sunsets if you time it right, and just general non-city good times. Right next door is Cubby Bakehouse you can get yourself some dessert for the drive home.
Where: 156 Chinderah Bay Drive, Chinderah
The Farm Byron Bay
A must visit for everyone (especially anyone with a little person in tow), The Farm is a destination in itself. See how the farm operates and say hi to the animals, and meet the infamous mascots Braveheart the Scottish Highland cow and Bobby the rooster. Collect macadamia nuts from the macadamia trees, have a meal at Three Blue Ducks restaurant, or grab a little something from The Bread Social to eat outside on a picnic rug. There’s a playground for the anklebiters and plenty of beautiful open space to explore.
Where: 11 Ewingsdale Road, Ewingsdale
The Crystal Castle in Mullumbimby
Instagood alert! Sit in an ancient amethyst cave, pose with rare and amazing giant crystals, and wander five hectares of subtropical, crystal-filled Shambhala Gardens and rainforest. You can even touch the World Peace Stupa, a project blessed by the Dalai Lama and join in Crystal Sound Healings at 12pm and 3pm! Grab a bite with a stunning hinterland view at Lotus Café and let the kids run amok in the playground.
Where: 81 Monet Drive, Montecollum
The heart of beautiful Brunswick Heads, swing in for a drink or a feed at this classic Aussie pub. Somewhat of an institution and a fave far and wide, relax under the beautiful Poinciana trees in the beer garden and soak up the ambience. Always busy on Sundays, if you can push the friendship and stay on till the early evening, you’ll generally be rewarded with live music and an even more awesome vibe. Pub grub at its best.
Where: Mullumbimbi Street, Brunswick Heads
A collective of creative local artisans and curators of fine goods who are passionate about what they do, this is our jam! Honouring the space and the essence of the Byron Bay Hinterland, Newrybar Merchants enables customers to experience rustic charm effortlessly blended with sophistication within a beautiful and unique retail space. Shop everything from faaarshion, to homewares, to wellness products and everything in between, it’s a must.
Where: 16 Old Pacific Highway, Newrybar
The Ivory Waterside
Barely over the border but for the northern GC folk, it’s a Sunday drive to Tweed Heads so we’ll let this one fly. Recently undergoing a bit of a nip and tuck and overlooking the adjoining marina and picturesque Terra Creek, it’s the ultimate in casual waterside dining. The food is consistently delish and guys, you can even get your rad on with tons of vintage arcade games in Benny’s Arcade. Talk about a one-stop-good-times-shop! Add it to the list.
Where: 156 Wharf Street, Tweed Heads
Wollumbin National Park
This World Heritage-listed national treasure is well worth a look. Previously known as Mt Warning National Park, lose yourself in some of the largest and oldest tracts of sub-tropical rainforest on Earth. Wollumbin, which rises from the park to a height of 1,157 metres above sea level, is a remnant central vent of an ancient volcano and yep, that’s a drawcard right there. Note the Wollumbin (Mount Warning) summit track and the Aboriginal Place remains closed.
Where: About 12km south-west of Murwillumbah off Kyogle Road, Mount Warning
Tweed River House
This one is special! From the vantage point of the verdant riverbanks, settled at the tropical foothills of the Tweed Caldera in Murwillumbah, this century-old riverside plantation house has been lovingly restored to maintain its original character and charm. The elegant yet relaxed renovation creates a unique space that reflects the gentle pace of the Northern Rivers, oozing 1930s style with a French twist. They’ve even been nominated for a Chef Hat Award by the Australian Good Food Guide so if the aesthetics aren’t enough to get you there, the nosh will be!
Where: 131 River Street, South Murwillumbah
Baked at Ancora
Another one that’s close by when you’re a bit strapped for time is Baked at Ancora. Believers that sweet treats and waterside picnics go hand in hand, we concur and we can’t get enough of this Parisian style café bakery. From their signature croissants and traditional classics like pain-au-chocolat, to the more unique and inventive flavour combos, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were in actual Paris. Well worth the waistline damage.
Where: 118 Wharf St, Tweed Heads
Tweed Regional Gallery and Margaret Olley Art Centre
There’s always something new to discover at the Tweed Regional Gallery, housed in a large, modern, architecturally award-winning building with views to Wollumbin/Mount Warning. Don’t miss the opportunity to see Claude Monet’s painting Meules, milieu du jour [Haystacks, midday] 1890, currently on loan from the National Gallery of Australia (NGA). While you’re there, a meal at the new in-house eats haunt Apex is an absolute non-negotiable. With a stunning outlook and design to reflect the vista, indulge in a unique combo of rustic French patisserie goodies and modern cafe plates with a very ‘now’ pan-Asian twist. Add a cocktail and instant happy place.
Where: 2 Mistral Road, South Murwillumbah
Husk Farm Distillery
Just a hop, skip and a jump over the border, a sneaky visit to the lush Husk grounds is certainly one of the more low effort, high reward outings Gold Coasters have at our fingertips. Our recommendation? Take your tastebuds on a very smooth sip around the signature Husk offerings with a tasting paddle to start. Not only have they mastered treats of the thirst quenching variety, the Husk Farm kitchen offers up a selection of top notch eats to rival their signature spirits selection.
Where: Dulguigan Rd, North Tumbulgum
Words by Bianca Trathen.
There are few greater pleasures in life than a pamper sesh. Whether it’s a massage, a facial, an exfoliation or any other sort of treatment, heck you get to sit/lie down and zone out and just sign us up already!
There are plenty of beautiful day spas scattered around the GC and thank goodness for that because nothing gives the mind, body and soul a little pick me up quite like a visit to one of these godsends.
We’re here to save you the Google search and download our intel on our region’s finest spots for some much-deserved self-care. From the north, south, east and west….
The Bathhouse at Ground Currumbin
Set amongst remnant rainforest in front of a lovingly restored 100-year-old farmhouse, enjoy hot tubs, spas, plunge pools and saunas in a lush outdoor setting under the canopy of a majestic fig tree. Combine your bathhouse experience with a wellness treatment from the highly skilled massage and beauty practitioners for the best of all worlds.
Our pick: The Ultimate Relaxation, including hot tub, sauna, essential oil massage and bespoke organic facial
Where: 2 Village Way, Currumbin Valley
eforea spa at Hilton
I mean, it’s at the Hilton and do we really need to say anymore? The signature of eforea spa are their Journey Enhancements, which are powerful mini treatments that can be added to your existing services or enjoyed by themselves. Specially designed for eforea, they introduce guests to special, commonly unexperienced techniques from the most fabled spa cultures around the world. Count. Us. In.
Our pick: The Vichy Shower Experience to increase circulation throughout the body
Where: 6 Orchid Avenue, Surfers Paradise
With luxurious accents from pillar to post, this Currumbin gem is one of the GC’s most loved wellness centres. Equipped with a salt therapy room, yoga and pilates classes, meditation and sound healing, along with two registered nurses to undertake anything from scar revision, to PDO threads, iv vitamin infusions and cosmetic injections, it’s the ultimate A-Z of self-nurturing.
Our pick: Salt Therapy – it’s a wonder treatment
Where: 31 Currumbin Creek Road, Currumbin
Endota is basically another word for day spa – that’s how established the brand is here in Oz. In fact it’s our largest spa group and if you’ve visited one, you know why. From the moment you walk in til the moment you float out, it’s pure bliss. If you’re channelling a group spa date or organising a hen’s ‘do, Endota is the perfect choice for some pampering with your posse.
Our pick: Intense Radiance Facial to promote collagen and elastin activation
Where: Broadbeach, Surfers Paradise, Robina, Coolangatta
One Spa at RACV Royal Pines Resort
Exquisitely appointed with all details considered, One Spa offers locally inspired rituals, unique water therapies, spacious treatment rooms, private change room facilities and a relaxation area that overlooks the peaceful green landscape. A wide range of rejuvenating spa treatments await, including a geisha bath, lusar and Vichy showers, and a four-seater spa.
Our pick: The Knowing Touch massage. This unique Akwaterra facial and body massage incorporates both warmed and chilled ceramics to relax the mind and ease discomfort from tight, sore muscles.
Where: RACV Royal Pines Resort, Ross Street, Benowa
On Eagle Wings
Nourishing relaxation awaits at this stunning Gold Coast hinterland spa. Inhale the fresh mountain air as you lounge by the heated 25m infinity lap pool, taking in the peaceful sounds of waterfalls and nature. The impressive treatments menu includes the ‘who’s who’ of pampering, with facials, massage, body treatments, pedicures or manicures. Bliss!
Our pick: Pure Chocolate Indulgence Spa Package, including all things pamper plus a complimentary cheese platter, sweet fruit chocolate box and bubbly
Where: 59 Lowry Court, Mudgeeraba
This slice of heaven was as hotly anticipated as the latest reinvention of the Dior Saddle Bag and we’re pleased as punch to announce that it surpasses all expectations! Chuan Spa at The Langham, Gold Coast, delivers luxury wellness in spades, with a holistic approach unique to the prestigious global hotel group. Offering a range of treatments to both in-house guests and non-hotel guests, expect to leave this serene sanctuary relaxed, reconnected, and revitalised.
Our pick: the signature Chuan Harmony Massage designed to stimulate meridian harmony. This unique mind, body and soul experience combines the therapeutic elements of acupressure with various relaxation massage techniques to induce a deep sense of calm.
Where: 38 Old Burleigh Road, Surfers Paradise
Lost World Spa
Located within the stunning O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, is there a better place for a day spa? We think not. With million-dollar hinterland views, a trip to O’Reilly’s isn’t complete without a stint here. Indulge in one of the relaxing massages, facials, hot stone therapies, spa or steam room treatments, and enjoy some restorative time alone…or with that someone special.
Our pick: The Lost World Ritual. It’s a splurge…but it includes the lot and will change your life
Where: The end of Lamington National Park Road, Canungra
Greenhouse The Bathhouse
This modern-styled Australian boutique bathhouse and communal rejuvenation space is pure ecstasy. Offering access to two hydrotherapy spas, a custom-built wet steam room, a traditional red cedar sauna, a magnesium plunge pool, sundeck and lounge area, don’t think, just book. A shared experience for up to 10 people at a time, it’s everything you’d expect from the Greenhouse Canteen girls, and then some.
Our pick: Signature Massage + Luxe Soak Package, with full body massage, soak, plant-based lunch and bubbles or kombucha
Where: 7/37 Tallebudgera Creek Road, Burleigh Heads
Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat
This is a complete wellness destination designed to help you truly rest and focus on your health, which sounds pretty darn perf to us. Set among over 200 hectares of beautiful native bushland, there’s everything from soothing spa therapies to wellness consultations, plus stress management, emotional wellbeing and movement sessions tailored to your needs. This is your time to stop, rest and relax.
Our pick: Hawaiian Bodywork Massage, ideal for shifting tension from the physical, energetic or emotional bodies
Where: 192 Syndicate Road, Tallebudgera Valley
Hit the reset button at this retreat…reimagined! Based on four ‘pillars of wellness’ (recovery, nutrition, movement and connection), this modern Australian bathhouse and spa is a holistic wonderland. With a truly beautiful environment where guests feel inspired to linger, relax and socialise rather than zip-off straight after a treatment, Soak experiences are high quality, affordable and accessible. To quote Nike, just do it.
Our pick: A Soak membership with bathhouse sessions, beauty and recovery services, and massage discounts
Where: Pacific Square, 2532 – 2540 Gold Coast Hwy, Mermaid Beach
SpaQ at QT
If you’re all about customisation, this is the spa for you. There’s no need to select a treatment – just make a booking and decide once you’re there! For those who allow time for a 1+hour treatment, enjoy complimentary access to the Hammam-inspired steam room to ease your body and mind into spa nirvana. All treatments include time for a personal consultation and post-treatment recommendations.
Our pick: The Plush Princess therapeutic salt scrub, massage and facial massage
Where: 7 Staghorn Avenue, Surfers Paradise
Azure Spa & Fitness
At Azure, they request that guests rest, relax and recharge…and we oblige! Located at The Star Gold Coast, this chillaxation powerhouse offers a wide range of decadent treatments, using leading skincare brand BABOR. There are six treatment rooms, including a dual treatment space and an exclusive outdoor cabana to hire, and you had us at private cabana. Go on, live your best life and level up that ‘you time’ with a stay-cay for maximum R&R.
Our pick: Deep Sea Body Indulgence with a salt exfoliation, body wrap and full body massage
Where: Pool Level, The Star Gold Coast, 1 Casino Drive, Broadbeach
Ok, so this is not technically on the Gold Coast, but like Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman, we’re happy to claim it! Set in the heart of the ‘biggest little town in Australia’, The Banya is a total #mood. The Bathhouse features a tiled lap and three large hot mineral pools hugged by lush foliage and cobblestone pathing. There’s also a wood-fired sauna, a steam room, a cold plunge, five massage treatment rooms, and a rooftop sundeck for post-treatment relaxation. Namaste!
Where: 35-37 Burringbar Street, Mullumbimby
Words by Bianca Trathen.
Okay so I’m sure we can all agree that there are some blissful bathhouses around the Goldy and northern New South Wales. There are also some beautifully restored historic buildings, srsly #trending watering holes, pumping pubs and exceptional eats spots. However, correct us if we’re wrong (we’re not), but we’re yet to unearth a place combining all of the above into one unicorn-like locale. Until now that is, and we’re tickled at least 50 shades of pink by this brand-new Mullumbimby trailblazer.
Set in the heart of the ‘biggest little town in Australia’, The Banya is a total #mood. Built upon the sun-baked bricks of a 1920’s bank, it’s a modern experiential twist on a traditional European bathhouse and we are crushing hard on this chameleonic venue. Inviting us to eat, drink, relax, rejuvenate and connect, it’s well worth a little trek south-west over the border.
Introducing this quintessential Euro social experience to our ‘hood is local publican Brenden Lawless. Giving the space a new lease on life whilst preserving its original, old-world charm, The Banya is nothing short of a solid ten. The talented Mardi Borrack from Style Agenda was appointed to work her interior design magic, whose resume includes work on the big screen. Her creativity and attention to detail designing for specific periods in the cinematic world translated effortlessly to The Banya, giving Brenden’s vision the finesse it deserves.
Swell also came to the party and then some, with a transformative build catapulting the old bank into 2023. Integrating on-fleek finishes inspiring luxe relaxation yet respecting its longevity and original ‘roots’, it exudes contemporary fun and traditional wonder. Lofty windows and high ceilings have been lovingly restored, blending old and new to create an exciting and enticing aesthetic.
Think raw bricks fused with soft blush render, hexagon tiling, herringbone wood, terrazzo, marble, and coffered ceilings with chic pendant lights and plush leather. The Bathhouse features a tiled lap and three large hot mineral pools hugged by lush foliage and cobblestone pathing. There’s also a wood-fired sauna, a steam room, a cold plunge, five massage treatment rooms, and a rooftop sundeck for post-treatment relaxation. Namaste!
Once you’re fully zenned out, it’s time to partake in a cheeky tipple or two and a delicious feed. The on-site bar and dining are focussed on casual refinement with small share plates and nutritious staples which is precisely our kinda jam. In the dining room, indulge your tastebuds with Rock Oysters on Ice, served either natural, with finger lime mignonette, or with prosecco granita (side note: it’s the latter for us, coz who are we to knock back anything involving wine and sorbet?!). Or how about Ballina King Prawns on garlic butter brioche with cocktail sauce, cos and pickles crisps?
During the day or for takeaway, we suggest a Banya Bowl with greens, kraut, pickles, smashed butterbeans and marinated egg on brown rice with herbs and lemon and go on, add cured trout for the ultimate foodgasm. Wash it down with a Hinterland High Smoothie, combining banana, spinach, cucumber, coconut water, super greens and mint or for a bright, light and clarifying cocktail, you can’t beat the Kaffiroska with kaffir infused vodka, lime and a lick of sugar.
So, for the perfect mix of feel-good experiences (eating, sipping, chilling/pampering, and socialising) all under the one truly spectacular roof, all roads lead to The Banya.
Where: 35-37 Burringbar Street, Mullumbimby
When: 9am till late, Monday to Sunday
Words by Bianca Trathen.