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Cape Byron State Conservation Area: the most eastern point of Australia’s mainland

Home to the Byron Bay Lighthouse and famously known for seeing the sun first each morning, Cape Byron State Conservation Area is an iconic gem on the Byron Bay coastline.

Coastal paradise

Cape Byron State Conservation Area is the place to go for catching the perfect view of the ocean, or witnessing Australia’s first sunrise, all whilst encircled by utter tranquility. Covering the entire end section of Cape Byron, the conservation area is a total paradise and encompasses some of the most striking scenes and wonderful panoramas in the region. In fact, some of the most famous Byron Bay beaches including Tallows, Wategos, Little Wategos and Clarke Beach all sit on the coast of Cape Byron State Conservation Area. This natural zone at Byron Bay’s tip is scattered with lookouts which sit humbly in-front of the ocean, perched up high upon the edges of rocky cliffs. A trip to Byron Bay is absolutely incomplete without exploration of this coastal wonderland.

Credit: John Spencer/DPIE

Things to see in Cape Byron State Conservation Area

Aside from dramatic ocean views, sweeping beaches and dense greenery, Cape Byron State Conservation Area Opt for the 3.7 kilometre Cape Byron Walking Track to give your Byron Bay trip a breathtaking start. Allow the undulating trail to lead you along the rugged coastline, past all the main sights, with intermittent patches of ascent and descent. Ribboning across the headland, you’ll make your way through dense greenery such as rainforest and bushland, all flourishing with native animals and plants. Wallabies on the ground and sea eagles soaring overhead create a feeling of wilderness, whilst laurel trees, ferns and white wildflowers blanket the ground. With a view of the sea almost all of the way, it’s not uncommon to spot dolphins, and during the winter months migrating whales are commonly sighted as they glide north to have their calves.

Credit: John Spencer/DPIE

If the beach still isn’t close enough, head down to one of the famous Byron Bay beaches for a stroll with your feet immersed in the refreshing waters. Surfing off the beaches of Cape Byron State Conservation Area will totally thrill seasoned surfers, and the waves are some of the best in New South Wales. Also found within the conservation area are quaint heritage buildings now used for accommodation. Charming cottages sprinkled amongst the greenery offer visitors to Byron Bay gorgeous little havens within which to spend their holidays. To the delight of conscious travellers, some of the beach cottages in the park are award-winning for their eco-tourism status. 

Cape Byron Lighthouse 

Chances are if you’ve seen photos of beautiful Byron Bay, you’ve seen the glorious Cape Byron  Lighthouse. Standing proud on the edge of Cape Byron State Conservation Area, the elegant white tower is a shining light over Byron Bay. Built at the turn of the 19th century, the lighthouse protected ships drifting past the coastline and was operated by a keeper until 1989. Today, the now automated light still shines bright over the ocean and is visible from the heart of Byron Bay. In the Maritime Museum below, visitors can learn about local shipwrecks and read stories about the sea.

Cape Byron Lighthouse also hosts a sweet little cafe perfect for a light meal or refreshment. Drop-dead-gorgeous views in all directions can be found over the ocean, Julian Rocks and the lofty peak of Wollumbin. We aren’t sure there’s any better setting for an oat milk latte in all of New South Wales.

Environment and culture

Being a conservation area, naturally, a great deal of work is carried out here to ensure the protection of native flora and fauna. Acting s a significant corridor for migratory birds and home to rare animals such as threatened wallabies, the environment here is fragile and highly important. Certain pests which impact the ecosystems in the area are constantly monitored, including the management of Bitou bush to protect the biodiversity of the conservation area.

Credit: John Spencer/DPIE

Vital to the management of Cape Byron State Conservation Area is the historical importance of the land for the Bundjalung of Byron Bay (Arakwal) Aboriginal People. Scattered across the land in this gorgeous part of Byron Bay are numerous sites of importance for Aboriginal people, including spiritual sites and artefacts. National Parks and Wildlife Service is committed to ensuring these cultural sites are honoured by locals and guests, whilst a handful of educational programs in the park are ongoing as a way to keep people informed about this important aspect of the land.

Where?

Website: www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au

Jessica Beaumont
Noticing the footprints left behind by travellers in the countries she has lived in and loved, Jessica found her calling in the sustainable travel niche. Aside from writing, Jessica is found exploring the Adelaide Hills for good views and delectable wines, dancing, taking leisurely walks on the beach and trying to make friends with dogs.