From Humble Beginnings
The beautiful coastal tourist mecca of Byron Bay is tucked away in the north eastern corner of New South Wales in Australia. Originally Byron Bay was settled in 1770 by James Cook, who found a point of safe anchorage at what is now known as Cape Byron. Cape Byron is the easternmost point of Australia, and was named after John Byron, the grandfather of the famous Lord Byron. It however wasn’t until the 1880’s when Byron Bay was settled on a more permanent basis. Byron Bay campervan rentals is very popular especially during the summertime when many backpackers head this way so be sure to book well in advance.
Originally Byron Bay was a timber logging town. Home to the beautiful Australian red cedar tree, they proved to be a very popular timber overseas, and were transported by ship to a myriad of locations in the United Kingdom and Europe.
Then Byron Bay became consumed in the Gold Rush in the 1870’s with more than twenty different mining leases established along the Tallow Beach area. The town had its first jetty built in 1886, and was then connected to the national railway system in 1894. It was at this time that Byron Bay went through its ‘grizzly years’.
Dairy farmers came to the area, cleared the land and settled. Then in 1895 a cooperative was formed amongst all the dairy farmers in the area to establish cold storage and better management of the dairy industry. Hence the Norco Co-operative came to be. With the introduction of the paspalum plant, the dairy industry thrived, and Byron Bay was now exporting butter to the world.
The first meatworks opened in the area in 1930. The Norco Co-operative decided to branch out into the sale of bacon and other smallgoods. Subsequently, the smell that emanated from the abattoirs, dairy and meat processing factories was absolutely appalling. Then when the whaling industry kicked off during the 1950’s and 1960’s, it was really a most unpleasant town.
Then to throw the local sand mining activities that had taken place during the First and Second World War’s, Byron Bay was left as an eroded empty shell. Slowly one by one all of the main industries disappeared.
Byron is known for being a notoriously rough seaport. A lighthouse was built in 1901, however the ruggedness of the ocean still claimed many a vessel, and there and many shipwrecks that are scattered throughout the bay and the surrounding areas.
The Beginning of an Era
When the longboard surfers started to arrive at Byron Bay to surf some of the excellent natural breaks that the area has to offer such as Cosy Corner, The Pass and Wategos, this was the beginning of Byron’s tourism industry. The in 1973 when the Aquarius Festival was held in nearby Nimbin, Byron became known as the happy, hippy, free love, alternative town.
It was from this time onwards that Byron just continued to win the hearts of more and more people. Initially with people from around the surrounding areas, then by word of mouth or whatever it became a popular location to holiday for people from all over Australia. Today it is an iconic international destination, with visitors from all over the globe coming to visit and experience her uniqueness.
Now Byron is a rich melting pot of art, craft, creativity, music, writing, busking, food, festivals, wellness and healing. It is true to this day that Byron has not lost its 1960’s hippy vibe to some extent, and it can certainly be seen in many of the locals today. There are around 9,000 that call Byron Bay home.
The weather in Byron Bay is quite a mild climate. Winters are certainly far from cold, with the lower end of the scale being around 11 degrees Celsius, but usually a very pleasant 19 degrees Celsius in to be expected. The summer averages are around 27 degrees Celsius, however, there can be spikes into the mid 30’s. It is not uncommon to get afternoon showers during the hotter months, which cool the temperature down nicely for the evenings.
There are also some very lovely subtropical rainforests located very close by to Byron Bay such as the Nightcap National Park where the Minyon Falls are also located. The beaches at Byron and in the surrounding areas are excellent for surfing, snorkelling, scuba diving and of course sunbaking with a good book.
Cape Byron Lighthouse
Broken Head Nature Reserve
Brunswick Heads Nature Reserve
Julian Rocks Nature Reserve
Two Sisters Rocks, located on Broken Head
Cape Byron Headland Reserve
Who’s Who at the Zoo!
The picturesque seaside town of Byron is also home to some Australian Royalty such as Scott Owen who is the bass player for The Living End, John Butler from the John Butler Trio, Toni Childs a well-known Australian singer and musician, Delvene Delaney a popular actress from the Paul Hogan Show and co-host of the Sale of the Century TV show.
With a vibrant scene of cafés, restaurants, bars, pubs, boutique shopping and galleries, there are so many things to do and something new to discover in this unique town. And with Byron Bay Accommodation options ranging from five star resorts and private house rentals to hostels, you will always find the perfect place to base yourself as you enjoy your stay.
If you are looking for a more active holiday, then there is a full calendar of annual festivals, concerts and events, as well as weekly craft and produce markets, live music and theatre, and daily tours and activities available.
Just to assist with your geographical references, Byron Bay is approximately 800 kilometres north of Sydney, and 175 kilometres south of Brisbane. The two closest airports to Byron would be Ballina Byron Gateway Airport which is approximately 33 kilometres to the south, or the Coolangatta Gold Coast Airport which is approximately 67 kilometres to the north.
Where to Eat
The Byron Bay region is home to many restaurants, cafes and takeaway food outlets. The main streets for dining in Byron Bay include Jonson Street, Bay Lane, and Lawson Street.
A House on the Hill @ The Fig Tree Restaurant
Bay Pavilion Restaurant
Bay Seafood Market
Bayside Bar & Grill
Blue Olive Delicatessen
Bo’s at Byron
Byron Beach Cafe
Byron Organic Kitchen
Cafe One One One
Casa Pepe Vegetarian restaurant
Choux Choux Patisserie
Cocomangas Tapas Bar
Cool for Cats Cafe
Eastern Greens Bistro
Fishheads Restaurant and Takeaway
Hogs Breath Cafe
Italian At The Pacific
Julian Rocks Cafe
Kinoko Japanese Restaurant
O-Sushi Japanese Restaurant & Sushi Train
Offshore Bistro and Bar
Orient Express Eatery
Pacific Dining Room – Beach Hotel
Raes Pizza Bar
Red Hot & Green
Satori on Belongil
Savvy Teppanyaki Restaurant
Tandoor Mahal Indian Restaurant
Tandoor Palace Byron Bay
Thai @ Byron
The Balcony Bar and Restaurant
The Beach Kitchen – Beach Hotel
The Big Top Cafe
The Buddha Bar & Restaurant
The Fig Tree
The Great Northern Kitchen
The Pass Cafe
The Petit Snail
The Railway Friendly Bar – The Rails
The Urban Cafe & Restaurant
Twisted Sista Cafe
Utopia Espresso Lounge – Cafe
Why Not! Byron Bay
Yellow Flower Indian Diner & Venue
Health & Wellness
Byron also has a long standing reputation as a centre for health, being and wellness. There are a wide variety of relaxation and wellness centres such as;
The Crystal Castle & Shambhala Gardens
Buddha Gardens Balinese Day Spa
In Touch Yoga & Massage
Byron Bay Health Retreat
Arts & Creativity
Scattered all throughout the Byron Township and its surrounds you will find an amazing amalgam of Australia’s finest and most talented artists. Be it jewellery makers, painters, sculptors, glass blowers or arts and crafts in general you seek, you will not be disappointed.
Some of the definite must see boutiques, galleries and shops include;
Into The Woods – Felt Art and Classes
Seed Studio Gallery – Silva Bond
Byron Bay Art Studio – Irena Kirpichnikova
Hammer & Hand – Jewellery and Metal Collective
Matthew Farrell – Handblown Glass
Kelly K Sullivan
Still @ the Centre – Waywood Gallery
Out There Sculpture Garden
Mimi’s Closet – Burlesque Inspired Dress Up Photography
Colin Heaney – Fashion and Homewares
Art Piece Gallery Mullumbimby
Jules Hunt Studio Gallery
Retrospect Galleries Byron Bay
Zakay Glass Creations
Byron is a perfect host, and does it know how to host. Every year there is a top notch range of exhibitions, festivals, retreats, concerts, musicals and displays of the fine arts. In addition to the annual events, there is always something going on just about any given day in Byron. Be it the weekly farmer’s market, the craft market or the artisan market.
Following are some of the major events that Byron Bay hosts;
New Year’s Eve Community Celebrations
Splendour in the Grass
Splendour in the Grass at Night
The Back to Brunswick Hot Rod Show
The Bangalow Billy Cart Derby
The Bangalow Christmas Eve Carnival
The Bangalow Music Festival
The Brunswick Heads Old and Gold Festival
The Byron Artisan Night Market
The Byron Arts Classic
The Byron Bay Christmas Carols By the Sea
The Byron Bay Film Festival BBFF
The Byron Bay Surf Festival
The Byron Bay to Ballina Chopper Walk
The Byron Bay Tri & Multisport Festival
The Byron Bay Triathlon
The Byron Bay Winter Whales Ocean Swim Classic
The Byron Bay Writer’s Festival
The Byron Beachside Market
The Byron Latin Fiesta
The Byron Lighthouse Run
The Falls Music & Art Festival
The Lismore Lantern Parade
The Mullum 2 Bruns Paddle
The Mullum Music Festival
The Mullumbimby Show
The Sample Food Festival
Where to Stay
There are a wide range of hotels, motels and rental properties available not only in Byron Bay, but in the neighbouring surrounds. You can pretty much go for anything from 2 stars, right up to 5 if you so desire. However a word of warning to the uninitiated, accommodation in Byron can get booked up very quickly, especially during the peak season of summer, and during the many events that are held throughout the year.
One other word of caution is to be aware that Byron Bay in late November and early December has become a popular destination for Schoolies week.
But for further information, please refer to our Byron Bay accommodation section.
Ever Considered a Campervan?
Now I know you may be well sitting there and saying ‘Is he serious?’ Well in short, yes I am. It absolutely amazes me the amount of people that simply never consider a campervan, motorhome, RV or whatever you choose to call it, as a great, convenient and often when hotel and motel accommodation is scarce, cost effective solution.
Let’s face it, sure, there’s a campervan or motorhome for just about everyone. Yep, granted there’s the severely budget restricted overseas backpacker type vehicles, there’s the ‘youth campers’, which are just a grade above the previous example, but then there’s a whole world of other campers that could well suit your needs. A bit like picking a hotel by the star rating, only this hotel is on wheels.
So I issue the challenge to you today, why not consider it as an option? Some of the campervans and motorhomes available today will just blow your mind. They have full size kitchens, with full size fridges, microwaves, proper crockery, cutlery and glassware. No paper plates and plastic knives and forks on these bay boys! Heck, some of them even have fully automatic coffee machines and satellite TV. Coupled with sleeping arrangements from 2 to 6 people, with real sheets and blankets, some of these vehicles are 5 star motel rooms on wheels.
So if you’re interested in seeing what options are available to you when taking a trip to Byron, then be sure to head over to our Byron Bay Campervan Hire section.