Byron Bay, New South Wales

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Byron Bay
New South Wales
Byron Bay Lighthouse, Beach and Hinterland in the Northern Rivers, NSW, Australia.jpg
Byron Bay, NSW (aerial shot showing Byron Bay's lighthouse, beaches and hinterland)
Australia New South Wales location map blank.svg
Red pog.svg
Byron Bay
Coordinates 28°38′35″S153°36′54″E / 28.64306°S 153.61500°E / -28.64306; 153.61500 Coordinates: 28°38′35″S153°36′54″E / 28.64306°S 153.61500°E / -28.64306; 153.61500
Population9,246 (2016 census) [1]
Postcode(s) 2481
Elevation3 m (10 ft)
LGA(s) Byron Shire
County Rous
State electorate(s) Ballina
Federal Division(s) Richmond
Mean max tempMean min tempAnnual rainfall
23.5 °C
74 °F
16.9 °C
62 °F
1,509.2 mm
59.4 in

Cape Byron Lighthouse Byron lighthouse.jpg
Cape Byron Lighthouse
Looking south from the lighthouse along Tallow Beach Byron Lighthouse looking south 2004-28-12.JPG
Looking south from the lighthouse along Tallow Beach
Wategos Beach with Julian Rocks out to sea Wategos.JPG
Wategos Beach with Julian Rocks out to sea
Byron Bay with sugar cane burning in the distance Byron Bay New South Wales.jpg
Byron Bay with sugar cane burning in the distance

Byron Bay is a beachside town located in the far-northeastern corner of the state of New South Wales, Australia. It is located 772 kilometres (480 mi) north of Sydney and 165 kilometres (103 mi) south of Brisbane. Cape Byron, a headland adjacent to the town, is the easternmost point of mainland Australia. At the 2016 census, the town had a permanent population of 9,246. [1] It is the largest town of Byron Shire, though not the shire's administrative centre (which is Mullumbimby).

Northern Rivers Region in New South Wales, Australia

Northern Rivers is the most north-easterly region of the Australian state of New South Wales, located between 590 kilometres (370 mi) and 820 kilometres (510 mi) north of the state capital, Sydney, and encompasses the catchments and fertile valleys of the Clarence, Richmond and Tweed rivers. It extends from Tweed Heads in the north to the southern extent of the Clarence river catchment which lies between Grafton and Coffs Harbour, and includes the main towns of Tweed Heads, Byron Bay, Ballina, Kyogle, Lismore, Casino and Grafton. At its most northern point, the region is 102 kilometres (63 mi) south south–east of the Queensland capital, Brisbane.

New South Wales State of Australia

New South Wales is a state on the east coast of Australia. It borders Queensland to the north, Victoria to the south, and South Australia to the west. Its coast borders the Tasman Sea to the east. The Australian Capital Territory is an enclave within the state. New South Wales' state capital is Sydney, which is also Australia's most populous city. In September 2018, the population of New South Wales was over 8 million, making it Australia's most populous state. Just under two-thirds of the state's population, 5.1 million, live in the Greater Sydney area. Inhabitants of New South Wales are referred to as New South Welshmen.

Australia Country in Oceania

Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania and numerous smaller islands. It is the largest country in Oceania and the world's sixth-largest country by total area. The neighbouring countries are Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and East Timor to the north; the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to the north-east; and New Zealand to the south-east. The population of 25 million is highly urbanised and heavily concentrated on the eastern seaboard. Australia's capital is Canberra, and its largest city is Sydney. The country's other major metropolitan areas are Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.


The local Arakwal Aboriginal people's name for the area is Cavvanbah, meaning "meeting place". [2] Lieutenant James Cook named Cape Byron after Royal Navy officer John Byron, circumnavigator of the world and grandfather of the poet Lord Byron. [3]

Bundjalung people Aboriginal Australian people of northern coastal New South Wales

The Bundjalung people are Aboriginal Australians who are the original custodians of the northern coastal area of New South Wales (Australia), located approximately 550 kilometres (340 mi) northeast of Sydney, an area that includes the Bundjalung National Park.

James Cook 18th-century British explorer

Captain James Cook was a British explorer, navigator, cartographer, and captain in the Royal Navy. He made detailed maps of Newfoundland prior to making three voyages to the Pacific Ocean, during which he achieved the first recorded European contact with the eastern coastline of Australia and the Hawaiian Islands, and the first recorded circumnavigation of New Zealand.

John Byron British Royal Navy officer and politician

Vice-Admiral John Byron was a British Royal Navy officer and politician. He was known as Foulweather Jack because of his frequent encounters with bad weather at sea. As a midshipman, he sailed in the squadron under George Anson on his voyage around the world, though Byron made it only to southern Chile, where his ship was wrecked. He returned to England with the captain of HMS Wager. He was governor of Newfoundland following Hugh Palliser, who left in 1768. He circumnavigated the world as a commodore with his own squadron in 1764-1766. He fought in battles in the Seven Years' War and the American Revolution. He rose to Vice Admiral of the White before his death in 1786.


The history of Europeans in Byron Bay began in 1770, when Lieutenant James Cook found a safe anchorage and named Cape Byron after a fellow sailor John Byron. [4]

Cape Byron cape and easternmost point of the Australian mainland

Cape Byron is the easternmost point of the mainland of Australia. It is about 3 km (1.9 mi) east of the town of Byron Bay and projects into the Pacific Ocean. The cape was named by British explorer Captain James Cook, when he passed the area on 15 May 1770, to honour British explorer John Byron who circumnavigated the globe in HMS Dolphin from 1764 to 1766. The Cape is part of the Cape Byron State Conservation Area.

The first industry in Byron was cedar logging from the Australian red cedar ( Toona ciliata ). The timber industry is the origin of the word "shoot" in many local names – Possum Shoot, Coopers Shoot and Skinners Shoot – where the timber-cutters would "shoot" the logs down the hills to be dragged to waiting ships. [5] Timber getting became insignificant after World War I and many former timber workers became farmers.

<i>Toona ciliata</i> species of plant

Toona ciliata is a forest tree in the mahogany family which grows throughout southern Asia from Afghanistan to Papua New Guinea and Australia. It is commonly known as the red cedar, toon or toona, Australian red cedar, Burma cedar, Indian cedar, Moulmein cedar or the Queensland red cedar. It is also known as Indian mahogany.

World War I 1914–1918 global war originating in Europe

World War I, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.

Gold mining of the beaches was the next industry to occur. Up to 20 mining leases set up on Tallow Beach to extract gold from the black sands around the 1870s.

Byron Bay has a history of primary industrial production (dairy factory, [6] abattoirs, fishing, and whaling until 1963) and was a significant, but hazardous, sea port. The poet Brunton Stephens spoke of cattle grazing on the "mossy plains" of Cape Byron in a poem he penned in 1876.

Dairy business enterprise established for the processing of animal milk

A dairy is a business enterprise established for the harvesting or processing of animal milk – mostly from cows or goats, but also from buffaloes, sheep, horses, or camels – for human consumption. A dairy is typically located on a dedicated dairy farm or in a section of a multi-purpose farm that is concerned with the harvesting of milk.

Whaling hunting of whales

Whaling is the hunting of whales for their usable products such as meat and blubber, which can be turned into a type of oil which became increasingly important in the Industrial Revolution. It was practiced as an organized industry as early as 875 AD. By the 16th century, it had risen to be the principle industry in the coastal regions of Spain and France. The industry spread throughout the world, and became increasingly profitable in terms of trade and resources. Some regions of the world's oceans, along the animals' migration routes, had a particularly dense whale population, and became the targets for large concentrations of whaling ships, and the industry continued to grow well into the 20th century. The depletion of some whale species to near extinction led to the banning of whaling in many countries by 1969, and to a worldwide cessation of whaling as an industry in the late 1980s. The earliest forms of whaling date to at least circa 3000 BC. Coastal communities around the world have long histories of subsistence use of cetaceans, by dolphin drive hunting and by harvesting drift whales. Industrial whaling emerged with organized fleets of whaleships in the 17th century; competitive national whaling industries in the 18th and 19th centuries; and the introduction of factory ships along with the concept of whale harvesting in the first half of the 20th century. By the late 1930s more than 50,000 whales were killed annually. In 1986, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) banned commercial whaling because of the extreme depletion of most of the whale stocks.

The first jetty was built in 1886, and the railway was connected in 1894, and Cavvanbah became Byron Bay in 1894. [7] Dairy farmers cleared more land and settled the area. In 1895, the Norco Co-operative was formed to provide cold storage and manage the dairy industry. [7] [8] The introduction of paspalum improved production, and Byron Bay exported butter to the world. The Norco factory was the biggest in the southern hemisphere,[ citation needed ] expanding from dairy to bacon and other processed meat.

Jetty Low bank stretching from the shore into a water span

A jetty is a structure that projects from the land out into water. Often, "jetty" refers to a walkway accessing the centre of an enclosed waterbody. The term is derived from the French word jetée, "thrown", and signifies something thrown out.

Norco Co-operative

Norco Co-operative Limited is an agricultural supply and marketing co-operative based in northern New South Wales, Australia. Established in 1895, it sells products and services locally and internationally. Its 200+ dairy farm members supply over 200 million litres of milk to its two milk bottling factories and Ice Cream factory in Lismore, NSW. Its milk brands include "Norco", "FM", "Mighty Cool", "Real Iced Coffee" and "Tornado Shake". It also produces "house brand" milk and ice cream for Coles and Aldi, and has a fledgling Fresh Milk export business in China.

<i>Paspalum</i> genus of plants

Paspalum is a genus of plants in the grass family.

The Cape Byron Lighthouse was built in 1901 at the most easterly point on the Australian mainland. [7] In 1930, the first meatworks opened. [7] The smell from the meat and dairy works was, by all accounts, appalling,[ citation needed ] and the annual slaughter of migrating whales in the 1950s and 1960s made matters worse. Sand mining for monazite (zircon, uranium and thorium) between the World Wars damaged the environment further, [9] [10] [11] and one by one, all these industries declined.[ citation needed ]

Longboard surfers arrived in the 1960s and used natural breaks at The Pass, Watego's, and Cosy Corner. This was the beginning of Byron Bay as a travellers' destination, and by 1973, when the Aquarius Festival was held in nearby Nimbin, its reputation as a hippy, happy, alternative town was established, although tourism facilities remained minimal. [12] From the 1980s, tourism began to develop in earnest, with the cash-poor surfers and hippies supplemented, and to a degree supplanted, by cashed-up conspicuous consumers who in turn stimulated the development of retail precincts and accommodation more tuned to their needs. Today, Byron Bay is one of the most up-market residential areas on the Australian east coast with the growth in multi-million dollar mansions now pushing the median value of house sales up beyond AU$1.5 million in 2017, over a 100% increase since 2013, based on 2018 data from [13] At the same time, the town has not lost its attraction to a diverse range of visitors including surfers, backpackers and general tourists interested in the natural attractions of the area, and also supports a healthy cross section of creative persons including artists, craftspersons and musicians, while its more recent hippy/new age past is reflected to a degree in a prevalence of alternative "new-age" shops, "spiritual" services such as meditation and yoga classes, and holistic healing/"wellness" retreats. [14] As at 2018, the town is cited as having around 5,000 permanent residents, while being visited by over 1.5 million tourists each year. [15]

A number of shipwrecks litter the bay and surrounding areas. [16]

Heritage listings

Byron Bay has a number of heritage-listed sites, including:


According to the 2016 census of Population, there were 9,246 people in Byron Bay.


Byron Bay is part of the erosion caldera of an ancient shield volcano, the Tweed Volcano, which had erupted 23 million years ago. The volcano formed as a result of the Indo-Australian Plate moving over the East Australia hotspot. [19]


Byron Bay has a humid subtropical climate (Cfa in the Köppen climate classification) with warm summers and mild winters. Winters have daily maximums usually reaching 19.4 °C and a minimum of 12 °C. Summer can be hot, with a daily average of 27 °C. Summer evenings can be wet, cooling the day down.

Climate data for Byron Bay (Cape Byron AWS, 2002–present)
Record high °C (°F)34.0
Average high °C (°F)27.8
Average low °C (°F)21.1
Record low °C (°F)16.5
Average rainfall mm (inches)164.4
Average precipitation days15.415.316.415.513.814.
Source: Bureau of Meteorology [20]
Byron Bay Water Temperature
Average sea temperature °C (°F)27.1
Source #2: Metoc (sea temperature) [21]


The main beach with Cape Byron in the distance, in 2006 Byron Bay (Australia) main Beach from town.JPG
The main beach with Cape Byron in the distance, in 2006
Cape Byron Lighthouse Byron Bay Lighthouse.JPG
Cape Byron Lighthouse

The town is a resort popular with both domestic and international tourists, not the least backpackers. It has several beaches that are popular for surfing and the scenery attracts skydivers. An oceanway allows visitors to walk and cycle from the centre of town to Cape Byron Lighthouse.

The area is noted for its wildlife, with whale watching a significant contributor to the local economy. [22] Temperate and tropical waters merge here, making it a popular place for scuba diving and snorkelling. Most diving is done at Julian Rocks, 2.5 kilometres from the town and part of the Cape Byron Marine Park. Subtropical rainforests are nearby, and areas such as the Nightcap National Park and its Minyon Falls are within easy reach of the town.

Byron Bay is a popular destination for Schoolies week during late November and early December. [23]


Festivals held in or near Byron Bay include the East Coast Blues & Roots Music Festival at Tyagarah at Easter, Falls Festival NYE and Splendour in the Grass, the Byron Bay International Fashion Festival [24] on 29 April each year, the Byron Bay Writers Festival, [25] the Byron Bay Film Festival, Byron Bay Surf Festival, Byron Spirit Festival and the Byron Underwater Festival. [26] The Byron Bay Triathlon is held on the second Saturday in May every year; 1,300 competitors from many countries enter this Olympic Distance event. The vibrant musical community has produced internationally renowned bands such as Blue King Brown, Parkway Drive and 50 Lions.


Byron Bay has a number of regular markets including a weekly farmers' market [27] at the Butler Street Reserve every Thursday with over 70 local farmers selling fresh produce. There is also a Byron Community Market held on the same site on the first Sunday of each month and the Artisan Market held on Saturday evenings at Railway Park from October to Easter. There are three annual specialist Beachside Markets held in January, Easter and September. [28]


A bus station in Jonson Street is served by Greyhound Australia, NSW TrainLink and Premier Motor Services coach services from Sydney and Brisbane.

The privately run Byron Bay Train operates a shuttle service on a rehabilitated 3km section of the disused Murwillimbah line, between Byron Bay station in the Byron township and North Beach station, adjacent to the Elements of Byron resort. The service opened in December 2017, and uses an ex-NSWGR railmotor, converted to run exclusively on Solar power using panel on top on the train and at the stations. [29] [30]

Until 2004, Byron Bay railway station was a stop on the Casino to Murwillumbah railway line. It was served by trains from Sydney and, for various periods, also by services originating at Casino that connected with expresses running between Sydney and South Brisbane.

An earlier local train service, known as the Byron Bay Tram conveyed passengers from about 1928 until about 1954 between the railway station and the "new jetty" where connections were made with passenger carrying ships of the North Coast Steam Navigation Company. Motive power was a Simplex petrol locomotive, locally known as the "Green Frog", and the passenger vehicles comprised former Newcastle B2 class steam tram trailer 74B and former Sydney C class electric tram C37. After the trams stopped running both the cars went to a heritage tramway in Parramatta Park where 74B was destroyed by fire. The Simplex was built in Bedford England and went into service in 1923 shunting freight to and from the "old" jetty adjacent to the township and then to "new" jetty to the north when it was completed in 1928. Later it hauled whales from the jetty to the rendering down works, livestock to the meat works, mineral sands and meat wagons to the station for onward movement and regularly shunted Norco and other railway sidings and between these duties ran the passenger tramway until the coastal passenger shipping service stopped. The Simplex locomotive was retired in 1984 when the meat works closed and is now stored in a shed near the Kendall Street level crossing under the care of volunteers and the Byron Bay Council.


Byron Bay schools include Byron Bay Public School, Byron Bay High School, St Finbarr's Primary School, Byron Bay Community School, and Cape Byron Rudolf Steiner School. Among these are a number of early childhood facilities including Byron Bay Preschool and Periwinkle Preschool. In the fields of adult education there are Lexis English Centres (previously Global Village English Centres) and Byron Bay English Language School (BBELS) (both organisations providing English language tuition to international students), the Byron Region Community College, which is a registered training organisation and the SAE Institute Byron Bay which is a government-accredited, degree granting institution in the fields of audio engineering, digital film making, multimedia and animation.

Sport and recreation

The Byron Bay Surf Club is the longest-standing current sports club; it has been one of Australia's leading surf clubs and has been in continuous operation for more than 105 years. The rugby league club the Byron Bay Red Devils and the Australian rules football team Byron Magpies are well known. Byron Bay FC has won the Football Far North Coast Premier league three times, most recently in 2013. Other clubs include Byron Bay Golf Club, Byron Bay Cricket Club, Byron Bay Rugby Union Club, Byron Bay Gliding Club, Byron Bay Hang Gliding / Paragliding Club and the Byron Bay Bowling Club.

The Byron Bay Ocean Swim Classic is held every year.


The Byron Bay area has a number of newspapers:

The community radio station Bay FM broadcasts on 99.9 FM from within Byron Bay itself. Other local stations in the Byron area are:

All major television channels are available in Byron Bay and the wider Northern Rivers region:

Notable people

Notable people from or who have lived in Byron Bay include:

Notable former residents

In fiction

John Macgregor's 1986 novel Propinquity is partly set in Byron Bay and nearby Mullumbimby. The 2008/2009 ABC drama series East of Everything , written by Deb Cox and Roger Monk, is set in the fictional town of Broken Bay which is based on a somewhat more run-down version of Byron Bay and its surrounds, with much of the filming taking place in and around Byron Bay including obviously recognisable landmarks such as the lighthouse and local beaches. The town also features in the 2016 open world racing video game, Forza Horizon 3 .

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