The popular beach resort of Byron Bay is, without a shadow of a doubt, a place best known for its water sports. The conditions there are ideal, with warm waters, world class waves, and some of the most beautiful beaches in Australia. But, while water sports are big business for this New South Wales coastal town, it’s really the combination of both land and sea activities that draw the crowds – and, boy, are there crowds! An estimated 1.5 million travellers visit the area each year, a massive increase to the usual 30,000 population.
Land activities in Byron Bay may not be what puts the town on the map, but they offer visitors a view from a completely different perspective. Whilst relaxing on one of the many Byron Bay beaches or being out on the surf commands views out to the surrounding hills and mountains, being up in the Byron Bay Hinterland area offers panoramic views over the coastline, Julian Rocks and the Coral Sea.
While there are many driving routes to some great vantage points, those who make the trips by foot are rewarded with the absolute best views. There are a number of walking and hiking routes in the Byron Bay area, ranging from short and gentle paths suitable for everyone to longer and more challenging climbs, best left to the active and daring thrill-seekers.
One of the most accessible walking routes in the town itself, and also one of the most gentle, is the designated walkway from the centre of the town to a hang-gliding platform that doubles as a fantastic viewpoint overlooking Tallows Beach. The path is about 1 km, or just over a half mile long and meanders through a rainforest setting so it’s great for spotting wildlife. Birds are a common sight, including the native Australian Brush-turkey.
If you’ve still got a bit of energy, continue along the path to the Cape Byron Lighthouse. The gradient is a little steeper but it’s worth it. The reward is being able to say you’ve stood at Australia’s most easterly point, and the view over the jagged shoreline is spectacular. It’s also a top choice for whale-watching in the winter months. If you’re a little out of breath, stop by the summit cafe for refreshments. The lighthouse path is by far the busiest walking route in the area – even first thing in the morning, as early risers head up to enjoy breakfast and see the sunrise.
If you’re a seasoned hiker, you may wish to attempt one of the more demanding hikes in the region. The Mount Warning National Park is located just 60 km, or about 40 miles north west of the town centre. It’s home to the 1100 meter high Mount Warning, an extinct volcano which offers a testing 8.8 km, or 5.5 mile hike through rainforest pathways to the peak. Walkers should be fit and should allow a full day for completing the round trip, with time at the summit. The 360 degree views from the top incorporate the Queensland coastline to the north, the Great Dividing Range to the west, and, of course, the Julian Rocks and the famous white sand beaches of Byron Bay. If you’re lucky you may even spot a wallaby or two!
During your trip to Byron Bay, you absolutely must spend some time admiring the sea, the surf, and Byron Bay beaches, but don’t think that’s all the area has to offer. Many visitors don’t realize that there’s so much more to Byron Bay, and miss out on the wonderful opportunities to see the distinctly curved coastline from some of the most superior viewpoints on the east coast. Don’t be one of them!