Cape Byron overlooks the beautiful beaches of Byron Bay on the far north coast of New South Wales. Known as the most easterly point on the Australian mainland, the Cape now crowned by a vivid white lighthouse was discovered by Captain James Cook back in May 1770. He named it after “Admiral John Byron” but the local aboriginal people use the traditional name of Cavvanbah – Meeting Place.
Today Byron is a different kind of meeting place with a thriving surf culture (The Pass, Wategos, and Cosy Corner breaks), the hippy culture of the hinterland (Aquarius Festival at Nimbin 1973) and the tribe of celebrities who fly in to spend time at their luxurious homes in The Bay. And do not forget the 1.7 million tourists that descend every year – mostly in summer.
Byron back in ’88 was a great place to site with our then 8 month old daughter in a free and easy grassed courtyard, chilling with a beer and some good music. This time around daughter, now a vegan hippy 29 year old yoga instructor has flown the nest, so things are a little different. Or are they?
What’s new in Byron?
The buzz around town was all about paid parking.
On 23rd December, 2015, Byron Shire Council (parking map on site) went from charging zero dollars to $3 per hour for the privilege of parking the Kombi down town and beachside. It’s enough to make a person choke on their Stone and Wood. *
Having purchased sunscreen at the Woolworths Supermarket in Jonson Street, we stopped in at the Byron Tourist Information Centre (T.I.C.) at No. 80. The helpful employee asked if we were up for a walk and before long we’d committed to a walk along Ocean Way as far as the lighthouse. Ocean Way evidently has spectacular views over the beach but we like to put our own spin on things so we ditched it and chose the beach route instead along Main, Clarkes and Wategos – I prefer the beach over a hill climb any day. The only hitch was having reached “The Pass”, we needed to climb the hill via the road anyway. Sigh…
What’s the same in Byron?
Although a lot of people now visit Byron, it still has that small country town feel about it. The atmosphere is chilled and the spacious beaches manage to absorb the crowds and still have space for more.
Warning. In peak season it can take 20 minutes to travel 5km along the Ewingsdale Road that connects Byron to the Pacific Highway. Thankfully the traffic in late April was free flowing.
Scenes around town.
High Voltage on the way to Main Beach.
Reflective window shopping on the way back from Main Beach.
Coffee and Music Festivals.
Across the street from the T.I.C. is the Corner Cafe, laying claim to the cheapest and best coffee in town, including free wifi. The coffee was good and through the open bifold windows, we had a close up view of the snaking line for local’s tickets to Splendour in the Grass on sale at the pub across the street. Byron is also home to the annual Byron Bay Bluesfest and The Falls Music and Art Festival.
In the Morning.
And in the Afternoon.
The Pass Cafe
Think bush, beach and deck, situated on a rise adjacent to the iconic Pass Surf Break.
Climb the steps to the platform to watch the long peeling right handers.
Look south to Tallow Beach – find the hang-glider!
An impressive place to grab a drink and maybe something to eat. Dining with a fabulous view.
Return to town from Cape Cafe checking out the most easterly point of Australia on the way.
In the morning from The Pass.
From the Headland Reserve in the afternoon.
Back in Byron township…
The Beach Pub and a Holiday Romance
The Beach or Top Pub, with views toward Main Beach, was the venue for my first taste of a Stone and Wood brew*. I’m usually a super light lager drinker, so my first mid-strength Hoppy Beer off the tap was quite the revelation. I was smitten and although it was probably just a holiday romance, I lined up for another. Oh my!
The band played old rock the afternoon we were there with a different scheduled that night. You can see their Gig Guide on Line. Security was beefing up when we left late in the afternoon.
Brewery Tasting and Tour
Stone and Wood Brewery is right here in Byron. Try a Tasting paddle for $10 or a tour for $12.
Byron is a popular Yoga destination with something for everyone, from Luxury Resort Yoga Retreats to classes at the local Community Hall.
Ananta Yoga even has Surf Flow yoga classes that concentrate on keeping the body in peak condition for surfing – why am I not surprised?
I personally dropped in at Byron Yoga Centre on Skinners Shoot Road for a 90 minute $10 yoga lesson, led by their Yoga Teacher Trainees (under supervision). Started in 1988 Byron Yoga is one of the top yoga schools in the Australia. The Skinners Shoot Road campus keeps organic vegetable gardens to cater for their healthy eating yoga retreats.
Our (8 month old) baby revisiting Byron. Taken at Byron Yoga where she achieved her Yoga teaching qualification.
Where the hippy culture survives you can be sure the markets will be pretty interesting. Byron’s Community Market is held on the first Sunday of the month with the Farmer’s Market on Thursday mornings. Remember that only 20 minutes to the north is Mullum’s Community Market held on the 3rd Saturday of the Month.
Mullum one of the Byron Bay Regional markets.
One market I have earmarked for next time is The Channon Market on the second Sunday of the Month.
Where to Stay.
Think outside the square. Twenty minutes to the north of Byron is the Ferry Crossing Caravan Park on the river and highway at Brunswick Heads. In late April prices there were less than half that of the caravan parks at Byron. We enjoyed visiting Byron for part of the day and then browsing the second hand shops and cafes at Brunswick Heads before heading back to Ferry Crossing.
The cost to park a van in a riverfront position at Ferry Crossing in late April was $37AUD per night for six nights.
A search of Airbnb showed this shared house at Byron for $79AUD/night for two people.
How to get there.
Byron is 772 km north of the State Capital of Sydney, but only 165 km south of Queensland’s Capital of Brisbane.
The Brisbane2Byron Express bus connects Brisbane and Byron
Brisbane City to Byron – $38 one way – 2 hours
Brisbane Airport to Byron – $54 one way – 3 hours
Jetstar and Virgin budget airlines fly into Ballina, 30km to the south (allow 40 minutes for shuttle)