Cape Byron Lighthouse

Cape Byron, named by Captain James Cook in honour of fellow British explorer, John Byron, is home to Australia’s most popular and well known lighthouse.

This magnificent white, concrete block structure was built by Charles Assinder Harding and opened in 1901. Its cylindrical tower and lantern stands an imposing 23 metres aloft the rocky terrain on the country’s most easterly mainland point and only three kilometres from the renowned town of Byron Bay at the end of Lighthouse Road.

An estimated half a million people a year visit Australia’s most powerful lighthouse which saw the last of its keepers depart when the facility was fully automated in 1989.

Today, the once head lightkeeper’s quarters on the ground floor is now the permanent home of the Cape Byron Lighthouse Maritime Museum and is free to visit, but for the cost of a gold coin donation, you can also opt to take a 20 minute guided tour of the entire site which is open daily, except for Christmas Day.

Another reason to make a pit stop at this historic landmark is the opportunity to see, from one of the many vantage points, the annual migration of the humpback whales between late May and late October. As testament to this ideal location, Southern Cross University has established a Whale Research Centre on the Cape to help ensure the preservation of these graceful sea creatures.

While in the area, you can also challenge yourself on the walking track loop leading to the lighthouse and recover with lunch at the Cape Cafe.

Aside from Cape Byron being a magnet for tourists, the location is very special to the Bundjalung of Byron Bay (Arakwal) Bumberlin Aboriginal people who have inhabited the area for at least 22,000 years. Their aim is ensure that all who frequent this special place keep it clean and healthy, a commitment we all should respect.

For those who want to experience more of this simply wondrous place, the Cape Byron Lighthouse precinct can be hired out for events and functions by contacting the NSW National Parks and Widlife Service on (02) 9585 6570.

Before signing off, I have a duty to pay homage to those sure footed mountain goats who inhabited the cliffs below the lighthouse several decades ago, an image etched in my mind with the ever-present curiosity of how many may have fallen into the ocean. Let’s hope they were all good at gymnastics, or at the very least, adept swimmers.

Sadly, for some admirers, the goats were relocated in the 1990s to protect the fragility of the rocky environment, a successful manoeuvre with one exception, a lone female known as Wategoat who, as the story goes, escaped her captors and seemingly, has been on the run ever since.