Byron Bay, New South Wales
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. The town is in turn the nucleus of Byron Shire, which had 31,556 residents.
The local Arakwal Aboriginal people’s name for the area is Cavvanbah, meaning “meeting place”. Lieutenant James Cook named Cape Byron after Naval officer John Byron, circumnavigator of the world and grandfather of the poet Lord Byron.
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. Timber getting became insignificant after World War I and many former timber workers became farmers.
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, 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. 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. The introduction of paspalum improved production, and Byron Bay exported butter to the world. The Norco factory was the biggest in the southern hemisphere, expanding from dairy to bacon and other processed meat.
The lighthouse was built in 1901 at the most easterly point on the Australian mainland. In 1930, the first meatworks opened. The smell from the meat and dairy works was, by all accounts, appalling, 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, and one by one, all these industries declined.
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. 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 realestate.com.au. 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. 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.
A number of shipwrecks litter the bay and surrounding areas.
According to the 2016 census of Population, there were 9,246 people in Byron Bay.
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people made up 1.6% of the population.
- 64.0% of people were born in Australia. The next most common countries of birth were England 4.9% and New Zealand 2.5%.
- 76.3% of people spoke only English at home.
- The most common response for religion was No Religion at 44.6%.
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.
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 Byron Bay Water Temperature Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year Average sea temperature °C (°F) 27.1
Source #2: Metoc (sea temperature) 
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.
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.
Byron Bay has a number of heritage-listed sites, including:
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 on 29 April each year, the Byron Bay Writers Festival, the Byron Bay Film Festival, Byron Bay Surf Festival, Byron Spirit Festival and the Byron Underwater Festival. 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 has a number of regular markets including a weekly farmers’ market 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.
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.
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
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 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:
- 2LM 900 AM (commercial)
- 100.9 ZZZ FM (commercial)
- ABC Northern Rivers 94.5 FM
- River-FM 92.9 FM (community)
All major television channels are available in Byron Bay and the wider Northern Rivers region:
- Prime7, Prime7HD 7Two, 7mate, 7flix, (Seven Network/Prime Television affiliated channels, major-commercial)
- 9NBN, 9HD 9Go!, 9Gem, 9Life, Aspire TV (Nine Network/Southern Cross Austereo, major-commercial)
- WIN Television, WIN HD, , , WIN Gold (Network Ten/WIN Corporation, minor-commercial)
- ABC, ABC HD, ABC Comedy, ABC Kids and ABC ME, ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation, semi-commercial)
- SBS, SBS HD, SBS Viceland, SBS Viceland HD Food Network, NITV (Special Broadcasting Service, semi-commercial)
- Daevid Allen, musician
- Renee Bargh, TV presenter
- John Butler, guitarist, founder of the John Butler Trio
- Toni Childs, musician
- John Cornell, businessman and Delvene Delaney, actress and co-host of Sale of the Century
- Eka Darville, actor
- Chris Hemsworth, actor
- Elsa Pataky, actress
- In Hearts Wake, metalcore band
- The Jezabels, lead singer Hayley Mary and keyboardist Heather Shannon
- Kerry O’Brien, journalist
- Parkway Drive, a metalcore band formed in 2002 that have toured around the world several times
- Ric Richardson, inventor
- Scott Owen, bassist for The Living End
- The Space Cowboy, a record-breaking “sword swallower” and street performer who hails from Byron Bay
- Peter Gifford, bassist for Midnight Oil
- Mouche Phillips, actress
- Simon Baker, actor
- Olivia Newton-John, singer, songwriter, actress, novelist
- Elle Macpherson, model, entrepreneur
- Jack Johnson, musician
- Naomi Watts, actress
- Jordan Barrett, fashion model
Former notable residents
- Paul Hogan, actor, and Linda Kozlowski, actress
- William (Bill) Clifford, General Manager of NORCO in the 1920s, described as founder of the dairy industry, lived in Byron Bay from the late nineteenth century until the 1920s.
- Parcels, band, formed at Byron Bay High School, now based in Berlin
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.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics (27 June 2017). “Byron Bay (Urban Centre/Locality)”. 2016 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 1 October 2018.
Material was copied from this source, which is available under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License Archived 16 October 2017 at the Wayback Machine..
- Australian Bureau of Statistics (27 June 2017). “Byron Shire”. 2016 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 1 October 2018.
Material was copied from this source, which is available under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License Archived 16 October 2017 at the Wayback Machine..
- “Aboriginal elders gather at historic meeting place”. The Newcastle Herald. Archived from the original on 24 March 2014. Retrieved 16 May 2013.
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- 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, Shelley.)
- “Byron Bay Historical Society: Early Settlement”. Archived from the original on 15 August 2018. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
- Creamery Tramway at Byron Bay Longworth, Jim Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin, October 1996, pp. 295–298.
- “Beauty and the beast”. The Sydney Morning Herald. 20 March 2005. Archived from the original on 10 April 2008. Retrieved 7 October 2008.
- “Archived copy”. Archived from the original on 12 October 2008. Retrieved 7 October 2008.
- Cumbebin swamp nature reserve Archived 25 June 2014 at the Wayback Machine. National Parks and Wildlife Service (New South Wales) page 20
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- 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. Archived from the original on 29 September 2017. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
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- Destination Byron: Our Shire Archived 28 August 2018 at the Wayback Machine. (entry for Byron Bay)
- NSW Heritage office:
“Shipwrecks – Byron Bay.” Available online at https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/resources/heritagebranch/maritime/shipwrecksbyron.pdf
- “The Lost World”. Big Volcano Visitor Guide. Archived from the original on 14 March 2013. Retrieved 19 January 2013.
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- “Byron Bay Sea Temperature”. World sea temperature. Retrieved 8 January 2019.
- “Byron Bay”. Visit NSW. Archived from the original on 8 December 2012. Retrieved 19 January 2013.
- “Byron Bay Schoolies ‘put Gold Coast to shame‘“. Brisbane Times. 30 November 2009. Archived from the original on 3 December 2009. Retrieved 29 July 2010.
- “Byron Bay Railway Station and yard group”. New South Wales State Heritage Register. Office of Environment and Heritage. H01107. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
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- “Byron Bay International Fashion Festival”. Archived from the original on 13 September 2017. Retrieved 22 September 2017.
- “Byron Bay Writers’ Festival”. Northern Rivers Writers’ Centre. Archived from the original on 14 January 2013. Retrieved 19 January 2013.
- “Welcome to the Underwater Festival 2012”. Underwater Australasia. Archived from the original on 2 March 2013. Retrieved 19 January 2013.
- “Byron Farmers’ Market”. Archived from the original on 13 August 2011. Retrieved 19 January 2013.
- “Byron Markets”. Byron Community Centre. Archived from the original on 15 December 2014. Retrieved 15 December 2014.
- “The World’s First Solar-Powered Train Heads to Byron Bay”. Broadsheet. Archived from the original on 29 October 2017. Retrieved 29 October 2017.
- Cornell. Delaney sell up Byron properties Archived 26 December 2014 at the Wayback Machine. The Northern Star 11 December 2012.
- The Daily Telegraph 15 January 2015.
- Kerry O’Brien Archived 25 December 2014 at the Wayback Machine. The Weekly Review 11 August 2011.
- Ric Richardson Archived 12 July 2015 at the Wayback Machine. The Sydney Morning Herald, 22 April 2014.
- Who owns Hoges’ house now? Archived 26 December 2014 at the Wayback Machine. The Northern Star 2 October 2012.
- 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
- Pentelow, Orla (9 May 2017). “Boyeurism: Parcels”. Vogue. Archived from the original on 1 December 2017. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
- Media related to Byron Bay, New South Wales at Wikimedia Commons
- “Byron Bay (Cape Byron Lighthouse)”. Climate Averages for Australian Sites. Bureau of Meteorology. Retrieved 2006-11-25.
- Northern Rivers Geology Blog – Byron Bay
- visitnsw.com – Byron Bay