Debbie Kruger
Homebody BYRON BAY BLISS PART 1 Coastal
Diver Deb
Making friends
Visiting friends
Byronian Cafe
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A few links
What is Byron Bay's most famous landmark? Probably the lighthouse. I've always liked this photo, taken of me at the Byron Bay Lighthouse in December 1992, a few months before I actually moved to Byron. I was on holiday with a girlfriend, just to get away from it all for a week or so, after some very humdrum work I had been doing in Sydney for a few months. This was only seven months after I had returned to Sydney from living in London, and relocating to the country was the last thing on my mind. Having some great relaxation time and playing up a bit with the Byron locals was, on the other hand, at the forefront of my mind.

So as I looked out to the horizon on this beautiful blue sky day, I could never have guessed that within three months I would be arriving, car full of belongings, to stay indefinitely.

Deb at the Lighthouse
During that holiday in December 1992 I went scuba diving at Julian Rocks with a boat of tourists and an instructor from one of the local dive shops, the Byron Bay Dive Centre. What a fortuitous day that was. I deliberately avoid the subject of my adventures in love on this website, however the tale of Diver Jeff is worth a read, so check it out here for some background to my Dive Days in Byron Bay.
Dive boat at sea After that initial holiday, I spent a few weeks in Lismore and Byron in January 1993, and moved up there with a real job to go to in March of that year. Check out my Kruger PRofiles History page to find out about that.

At any rate, my first year in Byron was really spent hanging out at the dive shop. Okay, I confess — I was a dive moll.

And I looked the part, too, don't you think? The Byron Dive Centre Bunkhouse was the place to be, and here I am with Stuey, Jeff and Kevin — aka Max, because of his striking resemblance to funny man Max Gillies. I still run into Kevin (who is also a fireman) occasionally when I am back up in Byron and he still looks like Max Gillies. Stuey. Deb. Jeff and Max
Jeff and safety sausage Stuey and Mark

Hanging at the Dive Centre was quite intellectually stimulating at times. I think the boys appreciated my literary bent, especially the day that I sat them all down in the driveway, when the boats had all been washed down, and read them Madonna's Sex book from cover to cover. Jeff went crazy with his safety sausage (left), and Stuey and Mark were positively rivetted (above).
Outside the Bunkhouse Throughout the winter the Dive Shop was my home away from home. For one thing, the rear driveway provided the sunniest and warmest spot in town, and for another, there were always fun people to chat with. Summer was when the dive scene came alive, though, when the Bunkhouse was always full.
By early 1994 I had decided there was probably more to life in Byron than being a dive moll; I was starting up my new PR business and was planning to get involved with the local community radio station. Jeff and I parted ways, too, and I have never seen him since January 1994, but I am told he is still in Lismore and happily married. More on Jeff and the bovine influence in Rural Byron.

Meanwhile, the Byron Bay Dive Centre is owned by different people than it was in 1993 (probably a good thing) and is located in a different part of town. The old Dive Centre was behind the Top Pub, and is now a row of great cafes. If you want to book a dive with them, however, you can go to their website.

I did make some nice friendships through my dive days, including some that have lasted nearly a decade. Lisa and Bill (to the left of this photo) played a big role in my life of Byron. Also pictured here on the rear deck of my little house on the prairie are Stuey, Kim and Lisa, as well as Morgan the Angel Dog, not long after Jeff had given her to me. The gang of friends 1993
BAY FM Trivia Night 1993 I mentioned Byron's community radio station. That, of course, was and still is the wonderful BAY FM, which I became a part of in July 1994. BAY FM has held its famous trivia nights every year for ages, and my first was in 1993 when I joined a team with Bill and Lisa (rear right) for the '70s Trivia Night. We came in 2nd or 3rd, aided by my extensive music knowledge from the era. I mean, who else could have answered a question like: "Which Australian band from the early '70s was famous for wearing pink?"
I met Bill when I was diving with Jeff and the Byron Dive Centre in January 1993 and we clearly shared a twisted view of the world. His wife Lisa turned out to be even more twisted. So we became firm friends. Their biggest influence on me in the early days was probably their BAY-FM breakfast show, "Anarchy On Toast," which sparked the desire to host my own long-running "Debbie Does Breakfast". Lisa, Deb and Bill
Deb and Lisa and cow brownies So there we are, above, at an annual Christmas feast at the beach. And here I am, left, with Miss Lisa, who always understood my penchant for cows, and baked me cow brownies for my birthday in 1995. Lisa can boast many achievements, one of which is exchanging saliva with Gene Simmons from KISS one time at a KISS Fan Convention in Sydney. She even had her photo in Rolling Stone as a result!
Bill and Lisa are now living in Murwillumbah in the Tweed Valley bringing up their little boy, George, named after the chairman of South Sydney Leagues Club. Going back to Byron for visits and not having them around is a strange thing. But this photo was taken in 2000, before they left Byron, when I had dinner with them one night at one of our favourite eateries, The Raving Prawn. Bill, George and Lisa
Debbie and Bruce Everybody who visits Byron Bay wants to go to the lighthouse. My friend Bruce Litson from Dorset in England (brother of Arts journalist Jo who pops up elsewhere on this website) is a smashing photographer and took one of my favourite photos ever of me — meditating on Tallow Beach. Bruce was in Australia in 1993 and hung out with me in Byron for a few days.
omm.... omm....omm......
Wayne Harrison, theatre impresario and long-time friend and mentor, has visited me in Byron several times. On his first visit, in 1994, the spectacular views just brought him to his knees.

Wayne Harrison

And when we got together for lunch in Byron over the 2002 Christmas holidays, we met at my favourite casual eatery in town, the Byronian.

The cafe scene in Byron was great when I first moved there in 1993 — today it is out of control, but I don't want to get into that. My favourite hang-out has always been the Byronian Cafe on Jonson Street, next to Railway Park. Owned and operated by Tom and Kay, it has always been a place to go for a good feed, a chat with friends, and a shoulder to cry on in times of trouble. Kay went through a phase of baking the world's best cheesecakes (choca mocha and ginger... yumm..) and she also pioneered the trend of a Byron cafe doubling as a gallery.
Kay has always been incredibly supportive of the local artists, and one she championed early on, Rob Ryan, has become internationally renowned. I am pleased to have three early Rob Ryans hanging in my home, all bought through the Byronian Cafe.

Another great Byron artist is Colin Heaney, a glass blower extraordinaire. Colin is one of the long-time Byronian Cafe regulars with whom I shared many a lunch. I wrote an article on him that's worth a read (although it is somewhat esoteric and confounds me all these years later), and you can check out Colin's website, too.

Colin is usually part of the Bill Conner posse. Bill — or BC as he is universally known — first noticed me in June 1993 because he admired my cowboy boots. "Hey!" he called to me in his Alabama accent, "Are they Justins or Dan Posts?" I replied that they were Justins. He was impressed. We became good friends. BC makes hats. Seriously groovy hats. Check out the BC Hats website to find out more.

Another member of BC's posse is Pete Prideaux, insurance agent at large. BC and Colin and Pete share something very important in common with me — we are all Leos. And every year we would have a Leo Lunch at the Byronian to celebrate our birthdays.

Byronian Birthday 1993
L-R: BC, Pete, Colin and Debbie.
Leos at lunch.
So here we are celebrating at the Leo Lunch of 1993. The hat I'm wearing below is not one of BC's; it is in fact the work of another local artist, Nigel Washington, who creates sculptures out of styrofoam. Last I heard, Nigel was making giant styrofoam sculptures at Movie World on the Gold Coast.

Deb in funky hat
The Leo Lunch of 1994 was a grand affair, with chef Mandy baking her exquisite coconut cake especially for me. I've identified Tom and Kay in the photo so that if you ever visit the Byronian you will know who to say hello to... and tell them where you saw them first!

(Note: Tom and Kay sold the Byronian in 2004 so are no longer there.)

Byronian birthday 1994
Byronian birthday 1996 Another year, another Leo Lunch. This one was in 1996. Love those warm winter days in Byron Bay with cake, champagne and the posse!
Kaye and Deb, 1997Deb and Kay celebrate another year of Byronian birthdays.
We got an extra big cake in 1997 — not sure why — but I think it was the last Leo Lunch I attended at the Byronian. It's reassuring to know, however, that on any weekday at lunch time, I can walk back into the cafe and find BC there with his posse. "Have you been away, Deb?" he asks casually. "Nah, I've been here the whole time," I reply routinely.

BC and Deb 1997
BC and DK — Leos at large

It's always nice to know some things never change... Back for a whirlwind visit in August 2003, there was the posse, in pride of place at the Byronian. 2003 was my 10th anniversary as part-time posse member.
One of the first friends I made in Byron who wasn't in the dive scene was Richard Conrad, who was the Byron Bay reporter for The Northern Star. I was the paper's weekly Arts Reporter, so I'd be in his office regularly and we struck up a good friendship. Dickie was a Brisbane boy who had worked on major papers in Sydney and then moved up to Byron to surf and purchase a share in a piece of bushland adjoining a coastal nature reserve, upon which he could build his dream home. The house was completed in 1997 and Dickie left Byron in 1999 for Melbourne, where he worked as Deputy Editor on The Melbourne Weekly for several years and commissioned many of my freelance stories. He is still one of my dearest friends to this day. Dickie's house
Dickie's girlfriend at the time, Elloise, was also a god friend. Not that you can tell from this picture of us, taken at the BAY FM Halloween Night in 1996.

Deb and Elloise vamping it up

Maurice and Deb

And Maurice — the smoothest dude in Byron Bay — was a very close friend for a while. He had a couple of great shows on BAY FM: "The Baby Boomer Show" and then "The Pompatus of Love." This photo was taken at The Raving Prawn, where the jewfish cutlet is to die for.

Elloise, Karena and Peter
Elloise, Karena and Peter at the Bangalow Street Fair, 1996
Karena and Peter Wynn-Moylan are Arts workers in Byron Bay; Karena is a composer/musician and painter, and Peter is an administrator and academic. Karena's recent work is fascinating. She is part of a group that works in three different continents called Red Candle, and she is working with another woman in Byron on a cyber musical called com.passion.
Karena was at her post this past Christmas at the annual Byron Beachfront Craft market, selling her paintings, digital prints, books and CDs. For someone who lives in paradise, she sure is a tireless worker. Take a holiday, Karena!
Lounging at the beach Karena took this photo in March 2002 when I was in Byron and we went down to Clarks Beach, finding these Easter revellers lounging around. The photo really encapsulates the vibe of Byron's beach culture. Byron is still my favourite beach town. Although I moved back to Sydney in October 2000, I make sure to get back up there two or three times a year, and I long to be in Byron Bay every day I'm not there.
There are countless online resources for finding out about Byron Bay, its attractions, restaurants, cafes, artists, businesses, people and beaches. Byron is a good place to start, as is Bayweb. You can also find out what's happening from week to week by checking out the Byron Shire Echo website.

Meanwhile, Coastal Byron is only one half of the story. Come and check out the cows, horses and homes I've lived in, where the grass is usually greener, in Rural Byron.

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