When I visited Australia in 2018, visiting Cape Byron was high on my list of places to go. I was there as part of a 6 week trip that took in New Zealand and the East coast of Australia, from Cairns to Sydney, including the Commonwealth Games at the Gold Coast, south Queensland.
Cape Byron is the most easterly point of mainland Australia, jutting out into the Pacific Ocean. It's a small town that is famous for several things - surfing, a laid-back 'hippy' feel, the lighthouse walk, and for whale watching. About 30,000 humpback whales pass by from June to November each year. As the most easterly point, it is the first place in Australia to see the sunrise, especially from the lighthouse area.
But there is something else interesting about the Cape. From Byron Bay the coast curls Northward, so that the end of the Cape actually faces almost West, and the tip of the Cape projects almost North, more towards the southern Coral Sea.
The Cape Byron Headland was named by English explorer Captain James Cook in 1770 when he passed the landmark and named it after his fellow explorer John Byron.
From the shore front of Byron Bay, there is a beautiful path that winds backwards and forwards up the coast to the lighthouse. Just below the lighthouse there is a view of Cape Byron itself, the rocky promontory that marks the most easterly extent of continental Australia.
The lighthouse is one of the main attractions of the Byron headland and stands 22 metres high, and 94 metres above sea level. It was built in 1901 and aimed to reduce shipping hazards along the perilous stretch of coast. The lighthouse is still an important aid to shipping today.
As we made our way up the path, (almost 2km or 1 1/4 miles long) we got caught in a downpour, but it only lasted 5 minutes and then the sun came out again. We were able to shelter under some bushes, and avoided the worst of the rain.
The views from the platform at the lighthouse itself are stunning, extending East over the Pacific Ocean. We were also able to look almost directly down into the clear waters, and see several pods of dolphins swimming lazily along the coast.
We also had good views from the lighthouse path across Byron Bay to the surfers and kayak groups.
Here's an AMAZING video of a red moon rising behind Cape Byron lighthouse, by Iurie Belegurschi.
We jogged back down the cliff path to Byron Bay, and stopped several times to get some photos of the beach scenes.
After walking along the sands of Byron Bay itself, we went out on a guided kayak trip to spot dolphins. The weather wasn't ideal, but it was fun just to be out on the water. After a while, we did indeed see some dolphins, surfing in the swell that was rolling along the coast.
After another shower while we were at sea - and this time we DID get wet - we headed back to shore, checked in our kayaks and had a snack on the beach. Then we decided it was time for something a little stronger, and headed off to look for a bar.
Byron Bay is a small town, and we found our way around the various souvenir shops and coffee shops to the waterfront, and an attractive-looking bar. After ordering up a couple of beers, we noticed people wandering around on the grass in front of the bar, leading to the beach. As we watched, we realized that there was someone singing.
So we went out, and made our way through surfers carrying their boards, holiday makers and families eating ice creams to the guy with the guitar. We only caught the last few minutes of his gig, but the short video below captures the late afternoon atmosphere, with surfers in the background making their way back.
We were captivated by the 'vibe' of Byron, and got a feel for the hippy lifestyle that it is famous for. Our only regret was that we had to drive back to the Gold Coast that evening, instead of staying a little longer!
We did do a bit of fun koala spotting on the way back!
HERE is a link to the official Byron Bay information page.
- Story and Photos by Mogsy Ford, Editor, Adventuress Travel Magazine
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