Byron Bay

Here’s an excerpt from my Byron Bay Fact Sheet which you can download as a PDF.

Byron Bay is one of Australia’s most iconic destinations, attracting over 1.5 million visitors each year. It offers natural beauty, alternative culture & a buzz of its own. People from all over the world, from all walks of life are attracted to Byron Bay.


Byron Bay is the most Easterly point on Australia’s mainland. Situated in Northern New South Wales, 166km South of Brisbane & 772km North of Sydney. Byron Bay is in Byron Shire which covers an area of 566.7 sq kms.

Population (2006 census)

Byron Bay (inc. Ewingsdale & Suffolk Park) has a population of 8,952. Byron Shire has a total population of 28,766. 16% of the Shire’s population was born overseas with the United Kingdom (5.7%), New Zealand (2.1%) & Germany (1.1%) being the most popular.


The original inhabitants are the Arakwal people, part of the Bundjalung group. They called the area Cavvanbah, meaning meeting place. Here’s a time line of European history;

  • 1770 : Captain Cook named Cape Byron as he was sailing past.
  • 1828 : William Johns on the HMAS Rainbow mapped the Bay.
  • 1884/5 : The village of Cavvanbah was surveyed. 200 lots of land was sold.
  • 1894 : Opening of the railway. Cavvanbah was renamed Byron Bay.
  • Early 1900’s : Dairy and Pig industry dominated.
  • 1930’s : Sand mining was established between Ballina and Brunswick Heads
  • 1954-62 : The whaleing industry took as many as 150 humpback whales per year.
  • 1960’s : Surfers discovered the many beaches around Byron Bay.
  • 1973 : Nimbin’s Aquarious Festival establish Byron Bay as hippy / alternative town.
  • 1980’s : Byron Bay discovered by backpackers as a must visit destination.
  • 1990’s – present : Tourism is the largest industry in Byron Bay.


The following information was collected over 30 years at the Cape Byron Lighthouse.



There are over 30 kms of beach in Byron Shire with water temperature ranging from 18°C to 26°C. Beaches near town patrolled by lifegaurds in summer (for dates see There are open beaches, protected beaches, isolated coves, dog friendly beaches & clothing optional beaches in Byron Shire.