Free Byron




Byron Bay is one of the East Coast’s most popular backpacker hubs, a must visit place for respectable backpack-toting traveller visiting Australia. Though the town has swollen in size over the last three decades, the surrounding hinterland hasn’t lost any of its rugged beauty and its pristine coastline remains unspoilt.


There are no shortage of activities, day trips and adventures to capture your attention and your hard earned travel cash. However, one of the best things about Byron is that it can be an affordable place to visit- and that’s mainly because the best things in Byron are free. 


One of the best ways to appreciate Byron is to get away from the town and walk the beaches and coastal tracks up to the lighthouse. Starting from in front of the Top Pub, walk down past the surf club onto Main Beach, where the flags are. If you look out to the left you’ll see Belongil Beach, and if it is low tide, you’ll see the shipwreck of the Wollongbar jutting out of the water. The Wreck, as it is known, creates a great right hand surfing break when south-westerly winds are blowing.


Head along the beach towards the lighthouse, and when the shore starts to curve you’ve reached Clarke’s Beach, where a lot of the town’s surf schools have their lessons. It’s also the launch point for kayak tours that head out into the bay. Eventually you’ll reach The Pass. The shape of the beach creates one of Australia’s best surf breaks. Here, the tide curls around a rocky outcrop and creates a rolling wave along the coast for a few hundred metres off a shallow sandbank on the beach. If the conditions are right, you’ll find it’s a favourite spot for longboarders, paddleboarders and grommets. It’s a great place to find your feet if you are a beginner, but it also offers a solid wave for more experienced surfers. Before you head up off the beach, make sure you take the wooden stairs up the rocky outcrop by the beach. Years ago this was a rock scramble used by local surfers to check out the surf along the coast. Now, it’s a proper wooden lookout that offers a peak around the corner to the Wategos, the next beach over, and out to Julian Rocks.


Julian Rocks is considered one of Australia’s top dive sites, with a number of boats departing from The Pass each morning and afternoon. If you head out there on a dive or snorkelling trip (and in the right conditions it’s well worth the coin) chances are you’ll see turtles, sharks, tropical fish and gropers. A paved track leads from the car park at The Pass over the hill to Wategos Beach, through bushland and past wild bush turkeys.  Wategos is one of Byron’s special beaches, a great place to swim and another favourite with surfers, offering a long ride into the beach. It’s also a favourite spot for the local pod of dolphins, who often surf the waves into the beach, spinning on their tales just for fun.


A paved path at the end of the beach leads you onto the Cape Byron Walking track, which is owned by National Parks and Wildlife Services. The track heads uphill through subtropical rainforest towards the lighthouse, a Byron Bay icon. Byron Bay is located on Australia’s most Easterly point and is the first place kissed by the sun in Australia. The classic white and blue lighthouse has protected ships from the jagged coast since 1901, sitting on a cliff 94 metres above the ocean. It offers a 360 degree view of the area that wraps around the town, the hinterland, the coastline, beaches and ocean for miles in every direction, a view that is absolutely breathtaking.


If the winds are right, you’ll be able to watch Paragliders launch themselves from a nearby hill, you’ll be able to spot sharks feeding on schools of fish in the water below, and at the peak of whale watching season, the ocean can be dotted with so many frolicking pods of whales you feel like you’re watching the whale superhighway. Most people might only head up to the lighthouse once. Sure you can drive or bike, but if you walk this way you’ll be able to see the natural beauty Byron has to offer. The top part? It won’t cost you a cent. The best things in Byron are free.



By Shaney Hudson


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