The enchanting Cape Byron Bay Lighthouse, perched on Australia’s most easterly point, is synonymous with Byron Bay.
The majestic Victorian-era structure, which rises 118 metres above sea level, is easily recognised from postcards and glossy coffee table books.
The lighthouse is unquestionably one of the outstanding features of the surrounding Cape Byron Headland Reserve, with its stunning 360-degree panoramic views and meandering trails through beautiful coastal vegetation.
The Cape Byron Walking Track
Put on your walking shoes if you’re feeling energetic for a truly breathtaking experience in nature. The 3.7km Cape Byron Walking Track begins in front of the Byron Bay Surf Club and loops through an ever-changing feast of landscapes, including rainforest, beach, grasslands, and cliff tops.
Allow a couple of hours to complete this track so you can take it all in, and be prepared to be blown away by the sweeping ocean and hinterland views.
See if you can spot any local wildlife, including wallabies, bush turkeys, snakes, sea birds, dolphins, and turtles, both on land and in the ocean. There’s also a good chance you’ll see whales if you go between June and October, when they’re migrating.
You can access the Cape Byron track at various points where there is parking for a shorter walk (such as the Captain Cook Lookout, Palm Valley and Wategos Beach). Of course, there’s always the option of driving. Remember that parking fees apply once you arrive at the lot.
What can you do at the lighthouse?
After you’ve oohed and aahed over the views, strolled around the lighthouse, and taken enough photos for your forever-memories pile, you can join one of the Cape Byron Information Centre’s fascinating free, by donation, or paid tours.
It’s the best way to learn about the lighthouse’s history and keepers, hear about shipwrecks and sea stories, and climb to the top of the tower. Spoiler alert: much of this information will be revealed below the lighthouse at the volunteer-run Maritime Museum.
After that, treat yourself to a refreshment or snack at the Lighthouse Café, which has a cantilevered timber deck with stunning ocean views.
Can’t wait to arrive? Take a virtual tour of Cape Byron using Google Street View Trekker imagery.
Byron Bay Lighthouse History
The lighthouse was built in 1901 by Charles Harding using prefabricated white concrete blocks, according to its custodian, Cape Byron Trust.
The eight-tonne first-order optical lens was created by French physicist and engineer Augustin-Jean Fresnel, who pioneered his famous ‘large aperture and short focal length’ lens design, specifically for lighthouses.
According to the Trust, when converted to mains electricity in 1956, the light became Australia’s most powerful, at 2,200,00 cd. At the same time, an electric motor replaced the clock mechanism. From the tower, an auxiliary fixed red light is also displayed to cover Juan and Julian Rocks to the north-east.
The lighthouse and headland reserve, which are associated with the Bundjalung indigenous people of Byron Bay, are must-sees and must-dos for any person visiting Byron Bay.