Perched on Australia’s most easterly point, the enchanting Cape Byron Lighthouse is synonymous with Byron Bay.
The majestic Victorian era structure, rising at 118 metres above sea level, is instantly recognisable from postcards and glossy coffee table books.
With its knockout 360 degree panoramic views and meandering trails through beautiful coastal vegetation, the lighthouse is undoubtedly one of the outstanding features of the surrounding Cape Byron Headland Reserve.
History of the Lighthouse
According to its custodian, Cape Byron Trust, Charles Harding built the lighthouse in 1901 using prefabricated, white concrete blocks.
The first-order optical lens, which weighs eight-tonnes, was made by French physicist and engineer Augustin-Jean Fresnel, who pioneered his famous ‘large aperture and short focal length’ lens design, especially for lighthouses.
The Trust explains: “In 1956, the light became Australia’s most powerful, at 2,200,00 cd when it was converted to mains electricity. At the same time the clock mechanism was replaced by an electric motor. An auxiliary fixed red light is also exhibited from the tower to cover Juan and Julian Rocks to the north-east.”
Associated with the Bundjalung indigenous folk of Byron Bay, the lighthouse and headland reserve are among the must-sees and must-dos for any guest at Elements of Byron! But how to get there?
The Cape Byron Walking Track
If you’re feeling energetic, put your walking shoes on for a truly breathtaking experience in nature. The 3.7km Cape Byron Walking Track starts in front of the Byron Bay Surf Club and will loop you through an ever-changing feast of landscapes, from rainforest and beach to grasslands and cliff tops.
Put aside a good couple of hours to complete this track so you can soak it all up, and prepare to be knocked out by the sweeping ocean and hinterland views.
See if you can spot some local wildlife – on land and in the ocean – including wallabies, bush turkeys, snakes, sea birds, dolphins, turtles. There’s also a good chance you can see some whales, if you’re there during the migrating season between June and October (bring binoculars).
For a shorter walk, you can access the Cape Byron track at different points where there’s parking (such as the Captain Cook Lookout, Palm Valley and Wategos Beach). And
of course, there’s always the convenience of driving. Don’t forget, park entry fees apply once you get to the car park.
What to do at the Top
Once you’ve oohed and ahhed over the views, strolled around the lighthouse and snapped enough pics for your forever-memories pile, you can join one of a number of fascinating free, by donation or paid tours run by the Cape Byron Information Centre.
It’s the best way to dive into the lighthouse’s history and its keepers, hear more about the shipwrecks and stories from the sea, or climb to the top of the tower. Spoiler alert: a lot of this information will be revealed at the volunteer-run Maritime Museum below the lighthouse.
After that, treat yourself to a refreshment or snack at the Lighthouse Café, which features a cantilevered timber deck perfect for taking in the picturesque ocean views.
Can’t wait to get there? Take a virtual tour of Cape Byron with imagery captured by the Google Street View Trekker.
Location: Latitude 028° 38.4′ S. Longitude 153° 38.1′ E
Operator: Australian Maritime Safety Authority
Construction: Concrete Blocks
Character: Flash white every 15.00 seconds
Light Source: 1000W 120 Volt tungsten halogen
Power Source: Mains Power
Intensity: 2,200,000 cd
Elevation: 118 metres
Range: 27 nautical miles (50 kilometres)
Height: 18 metres
Custodian: Cape Byron Trust
Want more inspiration for things to do in Byron Bay? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Byron Bay.