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This Is Northern New South Wales

Byron Bay Holiday Accom – Garth & Sonya

Garth and Sonya Brien are both true Byron locals having lived in the region from the early 1970’s.   Garth’s parents, Lester and Jenny Brien, were part of the surfing migration north to the fabled shores of the north coast  in the mid to late 60’s, and Lester became Byron Bay’s very first Solicitor in the mid 70’s.  Sonya’s parents, Geoff and Cathy Browning, were based in Lismore where Geoff worked as an Insurance Agent.

Marrying in Autumn of 2001, Garth and Sonya loved living in the Byron area. Garth ran a surf tour company called Surfaris and was away every second week ferrying wannabe surfers from Sydney to Byron Bay. Sonya worked part time at a local travel agent but then, with two small children, Jye and Kirra, she became full time mum.

But everything changed in June 2002 when Garth was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia, an incredibly aggressive and fast moving form of cancer. The day they found out, Garth was rushed to the Royal Brisbane Hospital and wasn’t to return for 15 months. All the family relocated to Brisbane during this crazy period.

With the cancer in remission the family returned to Byron Bay late 2003. With limited income for the family Sonya decided that she would try her hand at Property Management after seeing the increase in demand for this style of accommodation – Byron Bay Holiday Rentals was born. This business would allow her to work from home and continue to be mum as well.  Starting with one property and a good domain Sonya built her business up, property by property. Garth, having recovered fully,  joined forces with his wife in 2006 to help run and build the business. Today their business has property management operations into the Gold Coast, Lennox / Ballina and Melbourne offering fantastic holiday accommodation options to thousands of holiday makers every year.

We hit Garth with our 11 questions here is what he had to say:

1.  How long have you lived here?

GB – 41 years and counting

2. What’s your Day job?

GB – Running my business Holiday Accommodation Pty Ltd with my wife Sonya, business partner Colin and our fantastic staff

3.Whats your idea of perfect happiness?

GB – Maintaining a good balance between work, family and recreation. Enjoy what you do.

4. Which living person do you most admire & why?

GB – Hmmm, tough! This will get me good brownie points though… would have to be my wife Sonya. 10 years ago she spent a year of her life travelling to and from the Royal Brisbane Hospital visiting me while I battled leukemia. It was a huge upheaval and her daily support was so important.

5. Whats your greatest extravangance?  

GB – Holidays! This is something that is fun to plan, hugely enjoyable to be on and sad to return from.

6.  What do you most value in your friends?

GB – A common love of the beach and a good ol’ fashioned dress up party.

7. What is your favourite memory?

GB – Travelling overseas for 3 years after Uni. Such freedom and fun!

8.  What is your greatest passion?

GB – Can I have a few?? Family and Surfing….

9.  What’s your motto?

GB – Live and love life to its fullest! Corny but true….

10.  What is your favourite thing to do in and around Byron Bay?  

GB – On a classic autumn day pack the car with a picnic lunch and boards and head down to a special little beach south of Byron with the family for the full day.

 11.Tell us something quirky that you do that you are happy to share?

GB – Quirky?? Hmmm….I’m not sure if I can share ALL my quirky stuff! I do like the fact that I can be talking to clients on the phone regarding accommodation and I’m sure that their perception of where I am sitting is of a little office space in town. The reality is that we are based on a 10 acre property in Coorabell where the occasional chook often strays through our office space…