Cape Byron Lighthouse
If you haven’t visited the Cape Byron lighthouse yet, it’s worth it. Not only is it situated on the most easterly point of the Australian coastline, but it is also the southernmost lighthouse in NSW, offering up the most glorious views over the ocean, Wategos Beach, Ben Boyd National Park and the hinterland.
History of lighthouses along the NSW coast
The very first lighthouse in NSW, Macquarie Lighthouse at Vaucluse in Sydney, was built in 1818 by convict architect Francis Greenway, and Governor Macquarie. This was followed by the Cape St George Lighthouse near Jervis Bay, designed by Alexander Dawson. Unfortunately, this is now in ruins.
Then, along came James Barnet. He was responsible for designing numerous lighthouses along the NSW coast from Fingal Head to Green Cape. After this, three more lighthouses were built by Charles Harding at Cape Byron, Point Perpendicular, and Norah Head.
Currently, 13 lighthouses along the NSW coast are maintained by NSW Roads & Maritime Services. There are additional lighthouses within Sydney Harbour maintained by Port Authority NSW, while the major coastal lighthouses are looked after by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.
The grounds that the NSW lighthouses sit on are mostly open to the public but there may be seasonal restrictions. Some of the lighthouses themselves are also open for viewing and have small displays that show more information about the lighthouse.
Image Source: National Parks NSW
Cape Byron Lighthouse is heritage-listed
The lighthouse was built from 1899 to 1901 and is heritage-listed, being added to New South Wales State Heritage Register on 22 February 2019. It’s now owned by NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service.
It is the most powerful lighthouse in Australia, with a light intensity of 2,200,000 cd (candelas, a unit of light measurement). Sitting on Bundjalung land, the Cape Byron lighthouse is almost identical in construction to the lighthouse at Point Perpendicular.
It’s made from precast concrete blocks as this eliminated the need for scaffolding, on-site quarrying, and the necessity of transporting stone and tradesmen to the site.
The lighthouse was manned until 1989 when it was fully automated as most lighthouses along the coast are also.
Image source: National Parks NSW
How to experience Cape Byron Lighthouse
Cape Byron Information Centre
The Cape Byron Information Centre (located at Wategos Beach) is your one-stop shop for information on what ability Byron has to offer, as well as a great range of souvenirs and gifts.
Getting the best experience from a visit to the Cape Byron Lighthouse might take a few hours or even a few visits. You might want to start with the Cape Byron Walking Track. This 3.7-km looped track starts at the Byron Bay Surf Club and takes you through an ever-changing landscape.
It’s easy to spend a couple of hours completing the walk as you’ll want to stop often to take in the sweeping views over the ocean and the hinterland. Be sure to take your camera; at the right time of year, you might even be able to spot some whales or even dolphins and turtles.
Once you get to the lighthouse itself, why not join one of the tours to learn more about the lighthouse as well as fascinating stories about the area and famous shipwrecks?
If you’re game, you can climb to the top of the tower. Plus, you can learn even more at Cape Byron Lighthouse Maritime Museum below the lighthouse. Before your visit, be sure to check the National Parks NSW Alert list to find out if the park and lighthouse are open for visitors.
Image Source: National Parks NSW
Most Easterly Point of the Australian Mainland
Byron is also the most easterly point of the Australian mainland. Every year, thousands of people make the pilgrimage here to catch a glimpse of the iconic lighthouse and take in the stunning views.
Most Easterly Point is a truly special outdoor wedding venue in Byron Bay.
It is perfect for small, intimate groups of around 25 people. The spectacular views are free but National Park fees do apply.
Cape Byron Lighthouse Cafe
For those looking for something a bit different, the Cape Byron Lighthouse Cafe is well worth a visit. The cafe serves up delicious coffee, cakes and light lunches with spectacular views of the Bay.
The cafe also has an extensive gift shop where you can pick up some souvenirs or get your photograph taken in front of the iconic lighthouse.
Tour Of The Lighthouse
To get the most out of your visit to the lighthouse, why not join one of the guided tours? The tour takes you through both the history and architecture of the lighthouse, with an emphasis on how technology has changed over time.
The tour also includes a 60-minute climb to the top of the tower where you can take in the spectacular views of Wategos Beach, Byron Bay and the hinterland.
The lighthouse tour is a great way to understand what goes into keeping our coastline safe and why lighthouses are such an important part of Australia’s maritime history. Be sure to book your tour in advance as spaces fill up quickly!
Extend Your Visit And Stay A While
Assistant Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottages
At the edge of the cape, you’ll find the Assistant Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottages. These four cottages were originally built in 1904 for staff working at the lighthouse and are now available to rent on a nightly basis.
Each cottage is appointed with modern amenities and all feature stunning views of the coastline. Staying in one of these cottages is a great way to extend your visit and enjoy all that the cape has to offer.
The Imeson Cottage, located two kilometres from the lighthouse and within easy walking distance of Wategos Beach, is a great option for those wanting to stay longer. This quaint cottage offers stunning views over the ocean and has been renovated to provide all modern amenities.
It’s perfect for couples looking for a romantic escape, or families needing some extra space. The cottage is also pet-friendly, so you can bring your furry friend along for a seaside getaway.
The Mildenhall Cottage is a large two-bedroom cottage located on the edge of the cape, just steps away from the beach and lighthouse. The cottage was originally built in 1875 for an assistant lighthouse keeper and his family and has been lovingly restored to provide modern amenities.
This cottage is perfect for families and groups of friends looking for a relaxing getaway. Enjoy the beautiful views from the veranda, take in sunsets over the ocean or explore all that Byron Bay has to offer.
What Are You Waiting For?
Steeped in history, the Cape Byron lighthouse is one of Australia’s most iconic structures and a favourite tourist destination for many. But, even for locals, it’s a great place to visit for a spot of history or a bit of photography. You can even download an app to your phone for a self-guided tour ‘around the cape’.