IF SHE were home in the UK, Laura Dixie’s Christmas Day would go something like this: Brave freezing conditions for a morning church service; return home to a massive lunch of turkey with cranberry sauce, pigs in blankets (sausages wrapped in bacon), roast potatoes, parsnips and Brussels sprouts, followed by pudding with brandy butter, all washed down with sherry.
Christmas carols, presents and charades would round off the celebrations.
This year she’ll be wandering to the beach, eating barbecued chicken burgers, downing a few beers, and having a dip in the ocean.
Laura, 23, is just one of hundreds of backpacker ‘orphans’ who’ll spend Christmas in Byron Bay, thousands of miles away from home.
The town’s Main Beach is traditionally packed with overseas visitors on Christmas Day and this year looks to be no different.
Manager of Byron Bay’s Nomads backpacker hostel, Mick Bazquez, said the backpacker market had proved resilient in the face of this year’s economic downturn and bookings had been at 100 per cent for the past two weeks.
A good exchange rate and a lack of jobs in the UK had helped keep numbers strong, he said.
Backpackers contribute $4 billion to the Australian economy each year and, in 2008, the Northern Rivers was Australia’s fifth most popular international backpacker destination.