Cape Byron Kayaks
Took the afternoon tour in early June. Surf was rough but we all got out into the bay and back in safely thanks to detailed instruction from the guide. This group has been operating the longest (around 17 years) and is well resourced with experienced guides.
Unfortunately no dolphins were spotted despite paddling out quite far, but they aren't exactly on call for tourists. We did spot some sea turtles and had fun on the waves.
Paddling out through the surf was hard work so be advised. We got flipped twice in the process but third time lucky (with help from the guides). The other two boats got flipped coming back in, but outfitted with safety gear there was no harm in it - just a good soak!
- Whale Watching
- Water Sports
Cape Byron Headland
Cape Byron is the most easterly point of the Australian mainland and the headland rises 94 meters above sea level..
There is a 5km walking track that leads from Watego's Beach up the headland to the lighthouse and back. It's quite steep in places so allow yourself plenty of time.
The magnificent views from the top along the coastline are simply stunning!
- Family Travel
- National/State Park
Byron Bay Lighthouse
The Byron Bay Lighthouse sits on top of the Cape Byron Headland and has been a beacon for passing ships since 1901. The headland here is 94 metres above sea level and the Lighthouse stands 22 metres high.
You can walk or drive the 8km's to the Lighthouse from Byron Bay depending on how fit you are feeling at the tome. You will certainly see more if you choose to walk but it is steep and it can be very hot in summer.
- Hiking and Walking
- National/State Park
Byron Bay is blessed with a beautiful beach by the blue waters of the Pacific Ocean. It's a very popular spot for swimming, surfing and diving.
The beach is patrolled by lifesavers but it remains wise to stay between the flags. Although heart attcks are more common than shark attacks down under it pays to stay alert as an unfortunate surf skier discovered here in October 2007.
- Family Travel
- Road Trip
One of the weirdest museums you are probably ever likely to come across. In some ways its more like the worst kind of junk shop, with 'exhibits' piled everywhere - the concept seems to be rather than dump it, put it in the museum. But in a strange way, it works. Walls are papered with old newspapers, local newsletters, announcements etc: there's the ultimate 'alternative' cafe with the smell of the weed percolating above the ground coffee and even though there's free entry, the entrance has an 'alternative' foyer for helping you spend your money....:)
And as for the Hippy Wagon jutting out of what should be the shop front....
Nimbim - a cultural phenomenon
Part of the Rainbow County, Nimbim is the 'capital' of drug culture. This quiet little town became the centre of the 1970s hippy dope culture and continues to be so today. Sadly, it has also become the heroine centre, many of the dealers selling the less harmful to bankroll their own, more serious, fix. Bought up on liberal ideology, today the experience of walking through Nimbim is anything but pleasant - virtually everyone from 16 to 116 is selling the weed (and surpisingly openly), with grannies as well as their grandkids approaching you with the various choices. It is overt, it is pushy, it is unpleasant (unless you are one of the 70% that visit Nimbim to purchase the famed 'speciality').
Which is a great pity as Nimbim is located in the centre of some stunning landscapes, close to both the Nightcap National Park and Whian Whian State Forest and forms the ideal stopover (or at least should!) for coffee or lunch. And just down the hill from the town is the Nimbin Rocks, an Aboriginal sacred site.
Approximately 25kms south of Byron Bay is Ballina, a fairly large town that serves the area as well as a place for low-key tourism. Like many of the towns on this coast, it is built at the mouth of a river and therefore offers coastal and river beaches and waterfronts. The Pacific Highway cuts through it and as such offers a wide-range of accommodation and services. The beach here runs north from Ballina to Byron, broken by dramatic headlands and rocky outcrops.
There's also a small airport at Ballina, serviced by Virgin Blue, which makes it a great 'entry point' for this part of the coast.
Brunswick Heads Nature Reserve
Across the river from the town of Brunswick Heads is the Nature Reserve, a mixture of coastal and river walks along with natural bush vegetation.
It's a great spot to distance yourself from people and find that virtually deserted bit of beach. Although only on the other bank of the river, there is no direct access from Brunswick Heads itself (other than by private boat). Therefore, access involves driving out onto the Pacific Highway, crossing the river and then driving back along the northern banks of the river, the 'suburbs' of New Brighton and finally a short drive along an untarmac'ed road (in good condition though). Takes about 20-30 minutes.
About 20kms north of Byron is Brunswick Heads, a small town built at the mouth of the Brunswick River. Spread out, it is almost exclusively set up to serve a very low-key tourist industry - little more than a few small hotels, a few cafes and a large caravan and campsite.
It's a delightful little spot, with, on the one hand spectacular ocean beaches (7kms running towards Byron) as well as safe river beaches only minutes from the crashing ocean. There's also a small but cute marina and a lovely backdrop of low-lying mountains.
Byron Bay hinterland
Drive a few kilometres inland from Byron beyond the Pacific Highway to get a feel for the farmland and rolling hills environs. It's a heady mix of green pastures but at the same time views from the surrounding low lying hills will give you a view of the sea and highlight the drought the area is facing (there may be a lot of green around but look a little more closely...). Particular pictures is near Coorabell, a couple of kms from the small town of Bangalow and only a few kms from Byron.
Sunsets - Byron Bay
It's a little disconcerting when in Byron - the far end of the bay is the furthest easterly point of Australia. Thus, the best views for sunsets is at Clarke's Beach, looking directly across the bay towards Mount Warning. Why is it disconcerting? Because you are convinced that such a direction must be north - not west.
The Byron Bay icon is the Lighthouse, found at the extreme easterly end of the Bay and which is the most easterly part of Australia. Built in 1901, the structure dominates the surrounds and can be seen for miles around (the whole point! :)).
The area around the Lighthouse is the Cape Bryon Natural Reserve - steep pathways leading up from Clarke's beach (and others) below. Fantastic views to be had of the coastline in both directions and, if you're there at the right time, chances are you will see plenty of whales out to sea (June-Sept).
You can walk up from the beaches (pretty steep though!) or you can drive to the top of the headland (car park cost A$5)
Clarke's Beach, Byron
Walk along the beach (or the road) towards the lighthouse in Byron, and you will soon hit Clarke's Beach (best place for sunsets). This has whistling sand (compression as you step on it makes is sounds as if its whistling to you) and apparently changes format quite regularly dependent on the weather - a storm a week or so before our arrival resulted in the lagoon on left hand side of photo forming.
If you're in Byron Bay definitely don't leave without hiking up to the lighthouse. It's the eastern most point in Australia and has some great views. It's very easy to hike...starting on the beach heading south you can hike clockwise up the hill. We walked back into town though the "rainforest" section which also allowed us to check out some of the neighborhood nearby. If you're lucky you can catch the mountain goats that can somehow stay perched on the cliffs of the peninsula.
- Hiking and Walking
Parklands Along Beachfront
For those that do not like sitting on the sand under the fierce sun you can move onto the parklands overlooking the beach. Nicely grassed with plenty of trees for shade will allow you to enjoy your day at the beach with less than 100 metres walk to the water's edge.
- Family Travel