byron bay is the quintessential hippie location on the east coast. scratch that: in all of australia. this place is so chilled time slows as you approach it. in our case we actually lost one entire hour coming from queensland, but that’s a totally different story. time is an illusion, my friend.

i still remember coming through byron the first time, about fifteen years ago. everyone had dreadlocks, wore batik clothes (presumably self-committed), was eternally chilled out and sold home-made dream catchers, healing crystals or organic cookies. chill, dude.

things appear to have changed a bit since then. it looks like today’s hippies don’t need a healthy lifestyle, the general rejection of detergents and endless meditation to be in touch with the cosmos. the smartphone with built-in selfie camera and loaded with ubiquitous social media apps may just do pretty much the same thing. bless you steve jobs.

batik is out, today’s uniform of the self-conscious individualist is hot pants or alternatively joga pants combined with a crop top for a female person rejecting the establishment and its oppressive norms, while for males the dress code apparently calls for shorts and an optional singlet. it is great to see that people of all shapes and sizes embrace their respective shapes and sizes in adopting the prescribed non-conformist outfits. be true to yourself people.

instead of (optional) leather sandals hand-made by south-east asian children the footwear of choice these days is (optional) thongs machine-made by south-east asian children. children are our future, sis.

unconditional love, peace and cosmic calm is definitely required for anyone wanting to drive in byron, which appears to be everyone. some show their rejection of materialism by driving ferraris and porsches, others demonstrate their values by using automobiles emblazoned with more or less motivational slogans. they all participate in the eternal communal traffic jam that appears to be byron bay’s most successful social endeavour. standing in traffic might also just be the cheapest way of stopping in byron: parking here costs more than in sydney. feel the love, people.

the little shops full of useless self-made stuff are gone. instead byron is now dominated by the same soul-less run-off-the-mill urban development ‘architecture’ (in the loosest possible sense of the word) we find everywhere in australia where enterprising individuals can make a quick buck by building four contemporary apartments instead of the one old beach shack. jobs and growth? or, as some economists suspect: australia’s very own intrinsic corruption by way of informal networks? one thing is for sure: you’ll find the same shops with the same brands looking – unsurprisingly – exactly the same and asking, if that is indeed possible, slightly more money for the same useless mass-produced crap as in sydney’s pitt street mall. the revolution is dead, long live the revolution.

so if you haven’t found an excuse to avoid visiting byron my suggestion would be to try and come up with one very quickly. it’s the only way to save your soul.