Byron Bay’s Best Galleries and Art Spaces

Australia is home to some excellent museums and galleries
Australia is home to some excellent museums and galleries | © Ian Dagnall / Alamy Stock Photo
Sarah Reid

Byron Bay has birthed many an artist, and inspired plenty of others – including iconic late Australian painter Brett Whiteley, who completed a series of works featuring Wategos Beach while he was staying in the area in the late 1980s. Here are the best places to visit to get a feel for the local art scene.

1. Lone Goat Galley

Art Gallery

Named for the lone goat that once roamed the Cape Byron Headland, Lone Goat Gallery showcases the works of both emerging and established artists from the Northern Rivers region. Among the local artists represented at the Byron Shire’s leading community art gallery are three generations of Aboriginal artists from the Bancroft family, and visual artist Lee McConnell – perhaps best known for his work for cult Australian surf brand Mambo.

2. Craig Parry Photography

Art Gallery

Even if you’re not looking to purchase one of his dreamy prints, it’s worth stopping in at local photographer Craig Parry’s Fletcher St store to take a look at the Sony Global Ambassador’s exquisite ocean- and nature-themed captures. Keen to refine your own photography skills? Parry also hosts workshops and offers private tuition.

3. Byron School of Art

School, Art Gallery

Actually located in the nearby town of Mullumbimby, this independent art school also has a contemporary exhibition space inside a repurposed industrial workshop. Since opening in 2014, the space has functioned as both a springboard for students of the BSA and as a space for the curation of exhibitions across a diverse range of disciplines, from 3D works to digital media. BSA also hosts talks by exhibiting artists, curators and visiting art organisations; check out its exhibition calendar for upcoming events.

4. Byron’s public art

Art Gallery

As public art scandals go, it doesn’t get better than the furore over Byron Bay’s ‘Disco Dong’ – the unfortunate nickname of a public art piece pulled down in 2019 following an outcry from the local community. Somewhat more successful attempts at beautifying the town include the painting of Surf Alley and Lateen Lane, but arguably the best-loved public art space is the exterior wall of Bayleaf Café. As part of the café’s community-minded business approach, its owners engage a new artist to paint the wall every few months.

5. Byron Arts Trail

Art Gallery

From the gallery-workshop of acclaimed multi-media artist and designer Jules Hunt to the collective of jewellery makers and sculptors known as Hammer and Hand, dozens of artisan and atelier workshops are scattered throughout Byron Bay’s Arts & Industry Estate. Thanks to the Byron Arts Trail website, it’s easy to find them, though note that the site is a little out of date, so you’re bound to stumble across more creative gems along the way.

6. Retrospect Galleries

Art Gallery

Retrospective gallery, Byron Bay
© david hancock / Alamy Stock Photo

A longtime fixture on Byron’s main street, Retrospect Galleries showcases innovative art from around the world, from metallic Bambi sculptures by Dutch artist Paco Raphael to Gold Coast painter Lee Wise’s moody landscapes. Renowned for presenting cutting-edge works from established and emerging Australian artists, the gallery also hosts a solid program of exhibitions supported by artist talks, workshops and discussions throughout the year.

7. Ninbella

Art Gallery, Shop

In the Byron hinterland town of Bangalow, Ninbella specialises in ethical and fair-trade Australian Aboriginal art from the western and central desert regions, but the gallery-shop is also home to works by alternative local artists, mid-century Italian designer furniture, chandeliers, lamps and cultural giftware. Keep your eye on its Facebook page for upcoming exhibitions.

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