Byron Bay, New South Wales

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Byron Bay
New South Wales
Bryon Bay NSW.jpg
Byron Bay from Cape Byron State Conservation Area
Byron Bay is located in New South Wales
Byron Bay
Byron Bay
Coordinates 28°38′35″S 153°36′54″E / 28.64306°S 153.61500°E / -28.64306; 153.61500Coordinates: 28°38′35″S 153°36′54″E / 28.64306°S 153.61500°E / -28.64306; 153.61500
Population 4,959 (2011 census)[1]
Postcode(s) 2481
Elevation 3 m (10 ft)
LGA(s) Byron Shire
County Rous
State electorate(s) Ballina
Federal Division(s) Richmond
Mean max temp Mean min temp Annual rainfall
23.5 °C
74 °F
16.9 °C
62 °F
1,509.2 mm
59.4 in
Byron Bay Lighthouse
Tallow Beach looking south from the lighthouse
Overlooking Wategos with Julian Rocks in the background
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 2011 census, the town had a permanent population of 4,959.[1] The town is in turn the nucleus of Byron Shire, which had 29,209 residents.[2]

The local Arakwal Aboriginal people's name for the area is Cavvanbah, meaning "meeting place".[3] Lieutenant James Cook named Cape Byron after Naval officer John Byron, circumnavigator of the world and grandfather of the poet Lord Byron.[4]


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.[5]

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.[citation needed]

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.

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.

The 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 tourist destination, and by 1973, when the Aquarius Festival was held in Nimbin, its reputation as a hippy, happy, alternative town was established.[12]

Shipwrecks litter the bay and surrounding areas.


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.[13]


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)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
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 days 15.4 15.3 16.4 15.5 13.8 14.0 12.3 8.2 9.0 12.7 11.5 14.1 158.2
Source: Bureau of Meteorology[14]


The main beach in 2006

The town has several beaches which are popular for surfing. It is a resort popular with both domestic and international tourists, including backpackers, who travel along the Australian coast; the scenery also attracts skydivers. The area is also noted for its wildlife, with the whale watching industry a significant contributor to the local economy.[15]

An oceanway runs from the centre of town to the Cape Byron lighthouse. This allows visitors to walk and cycle to the lighthouse.

Temperate and tropical waters merge at Byron Bay, making it a popular area for scuba diving and snorkelling. Most diving is done at Julian Rocks which is part of the recently established Cape Byron Marine Park and only a few minutes boat ride from Main Beach.[citation needed]

Byron Bay also lies close to subtropical rainforests, and areas such as the Nightcap National Park with the Minyon Falls are all within easy reach of the town.

Byron Bay is now also a popular destination for Schoolies week during late November and early December.[16]


The following places are listed on the Register of the National Estate:[17]


Festivals held in Byron Bay include the East Coast Blues & Roots Music Festival at Easter, Falls Festival NYE and Splendour in the Grass, the Byron Bay International Fashion Festival[18] on 29 April each year, the Byron Bay Writers Festival,[19] the Byron Bay Film Festival, Byron Bay Surf Festival, Byron Spirit Festival and the Byron Underwater Festival.[20] The Byron Bay Triathlon is held on the second Saturday in May every year. 1,300 competitors from many different 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 also has a number of regular markets including a weekly farmers' market[21] 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.[22]


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

The Byron Bay Train service will operate as a shuttle between Byron Bay station in the Byron township and North Beach station. The privately-run service operates on a 3 km section of the disused Murwillimbah line. It is expected to open by Christmas 2017.[23]

Byron Bay railway station was a stop on the Casino to Murwillumbah railway line until 2004. 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. A 3.4 km section of the Murwillumbah railway line is to be rehabilitated in 2016 for a two car self-propelled diesel train planned to run from the town centre to the Elements of Byron resort and nearby attractions.

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[edit]

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, 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 Byron Shire Echo (Independent weekly A3)
  • The Byron Shire News (APN weekly A3)
  • The Saturday Star (Independent A5 monthly)
  • The Bagg (Independent weekly A3 gig guide)
  • The Northern Star (APN daily, produced in nearby Lismore)

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 residents[edit]

Former notable residents[edit]

In fiction[edit]

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.


  1. ^ a b Australian Bureau of Statistics (31 October 2012). "Byron Bay (Urban Centre/Locality)". 2011 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 10 April 2015.  Edit this at Wikidata
  2. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics (31 October 2012). "Byron Shire". 2011 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 10 April 2015.  Edit this at Wikidata
  3. ^ "Aboriginal elders gather at historic meeting place". Newcastle Herald. Retrieved 16 May 2013. 
  4. ^ "Byron Bay". Geographical Names Register (GNR) of NSW. Geographical Names Board of New South Wales. Retrieved 28 June 2009. 
  5. ^ Watson, Penny (November 2009). "New South Wales". In Vaisutis, Justine. Lonely Planet: Australia (15 ed.). Lonely Planet Publications. p. 195. The Grandfather of the [...] poet Lord Byron was a renowned navigator in the 1760s, and Captain Cook named this spot after [...] him. (In the 1880s, when Europeans settled more permanently, streets were named for other English writers and philosophers. A star-struck clerk in Sydney thought the grandson was the one being honoured, and named the streets - and the town - after poets: Keats, Jonson, Shelly.) 
  6. ^ Creamery Tramway at Byron Bay Longworth, Jim Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin, October 1996, pp. 295–298.
  7. ^ a b c d "Beauty and the beast". The Sydney Morning Herald. 20 March 2005. 
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 12 October 2008. Retrieved 7 October 2008. 
  9. ^ Cumbebin swamp nature reserve National Parks and Wildlife Service (New South Wales) page 20
  10. ^ "Industry". 19 June 2014. Archived from the original on 2017-03-10. Retrieved 28 September 2017. 
  11. ^ "Newrybar (Record #514 rare-earth element deposit in New South Wales, Australia". Retrieved 28 September 2017. 
  12. ^ Catriona Elder, Keith Moore, eds. (2012). New Voices, New Visions: Challenging Australian Identities and Legacies. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. pp. 55–63. ISBN 1-4438-3756-3. 
  13. ^ "The Lost World". Big Volcano Visitor Guide. Retrieved 19 January 2013. 
  14. ^ "Cape Byron AWS". Climate statistics for Australian locations. Bureau of Meteorology. Retrieved 23 April 2016. 
  15. ^ "Byron Bay". Visit NSW. Retrieved 19 January 2013. 
  16. ^ "Byron Bay Schoolies 'put Gold Coast to shame'". Brisbane Times. 30 November 2009. 
  17. ^ The Heritage of Australia, Macmillan Company, 1981, pp. 2, 214.
  18. ^ Byron Bay International Fashion Festival
  19. ^ "Byron Bay Writers' Festival". Northern Rivers Writers' Centre. Archived from the original on 14 January 2013. Retrieved 19 January 2013. 
  20. ^ "Welcome to the Underwater Festival 2012". Underwater Australasia. Archived from the original on 2 March 2013. Retrieved 19 January 2013. 
  21. ^ "Byron Farmers' Market". Retrieved 19 January 2013. 
  22. ^ "Byron Markets". Byron Community Centre. Retrieved 15 December 2014. 
  23. ^ "The World's First Solar-Powered Train Heads to Byron Bay". Broadsheet. Retrieved 2017-10-29. 
  24. ^ Cornell. Delaney sell up Byron properties The Northern Star 11 December 2012.
  25. ^ [1]The Daily Telegraph 15 January 2015.
  26. ^ Kerry O'Brien Archived 25 December 2014 at the Wayback Machine. The Weekly Review 11 August 2011.
  27. ^ Ric Richardson Sydney Morning Herald 22 April 2014.
  28. ^ Who owns Hoges' house now? The Northern Star 2 October 2012.
  29. ^ Plaque on a memorial to Bill Clifford in front of Byron Bay railway station; A Few Geraniums, the story of Elizabeth Smith Beryl Moore 2009
  30. ^ Pentelow, Orla (9 May 2017). "Boyeurism: Parcels". Vogue. Retrieved 12 January 2018. 

External links[edit]