Cape Byron Lighthouse
Cape Byron lighthouse, standing as a tall white sentinel on the eastern most tip of Australia, is a beloved local landmark and a must-see for visitors to the area. From the lighthouse precinct you can see the entire sweep of Byron Bay and the dramatic coastline of Tallow Beach. It’s an ideal spot for watching whales, dolphins, sunsets, moonrises and dawns.
The lighthouse stands dramatically on the shoulder of Cape Byron, with the latin motto Olim periculum-nunc salus carved above its doorway, meaning ‘Once a danger, now safe’. The lighthouse flashes every 15 seconds which is its individual ‘signature’ and well known to anyone who spends time in Byron Bay.
Cape Byron lighthouse is full of stories. Do you know why the massive two-metre diameter lense in the Cape Byron lighthouse rotates continuously, even during the day when the light is off? It’s because if the lense was in one position, it could potentially focus the sun’s rays on a single point and risk starting a fire. That same heavy lense floats on a bed of mercury.
The original light source, when the lighthouse was built in 1901, was a burner with six wicks. In 1922 it was updated to a vaporised kerosene burner and in 1956 it was converted to an electric light, which is now the brightest and one of the most powerful in the southern hemisphere.
Generations of lighthouse keepers lived isolated and demanding lives of watching the flames of the burners and keeping the lighthouse operational in all weathers and conditions. Today the lighthouse – like all lighthouses in NSW – has been fully automated.
The lighthouse keepers cottages are used by National Parks staff to manage the lighthouse precinct and the surrounding National Park and some are available for holiday accommodation. The lighthouse is still important to shipping and is managed by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority. There are daily guided tours inside the lighthouse.
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Cape Byron State Conservation Area
The dramatic area surrounding the lighthouse – the littoral rainforest and rugged cliffs dropping down to the sea – are cared for by the Cape Byron Trust under the auspices of the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service. Some of Byron Bay’s most spectacular walking trails wind through the thick rainforests and the windswept cliffs of the headland. Watch out from the cliff top and you may spot turtles, rays, dolphins and harmless sharks in the water on a clear day.
The Arakwal National Park runs from the lighthouse reserve to the south along Tallow Beach. It was created as part of an indigenous land use agreement with Byron Bay’s traditional owners, the Arakwal people. There are walking tracks that wind through the coastal heath land of the park and come out on Tallow Beach.
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Cape Byron Marine Park
Cape Byron has an abundance of marine life becuse of it's sheltered beaches, rocky reefs as well as creeks and river estuaries. This includes many species of dolphins, fish, turtles and seabirds.
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Broken Head Nature Reserve
Broken Head Nature Reserve commences just 7 kilometres south of Cape Byron and extends to Seven Mile Beach which sits at the northern end of Lennox Head. This includes stunning coastal rainforest, rugged outcrops and inaccessible beaches.
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