On Australia’s most easterly point, atop a bald, rocky headland, sits the iconic Cape Byron Lighthouse. Offering sweeping views over the Pacific Ocean and a unique historical insight into the region, the Byron Bay lighthouse is one of the town’s most visited attractions.
The Cape Byron Lighthouse was constructed at the turn of the 20th Century to minimise shipping hazards along the dangerous stretch of coast. The plans were drafted by Charles Harding in the style of his mentor, colonial architect James Barnet.
Because the Cape Byron Headland sits 94 metres above sea level, the lighthouse did not need to be tall. Instead, the plan was for a 22-metre high structure with a panoramic vantage point.
Construction began in 1899 when contractors levelled the site. It is believed that this process destroyed a ‘dancing circle’ used by the regions traditional custodians, the Bundjalung of Byron Bay, the Arakwal Bumberlin people.
After two years of concrete block construction and more than £20,000 spent, the lighthouse was completed with a powerful, concentric six-wick kerosene burner. A banquet was planned, and residents came from Lismore and Murwillumbah to witness the grand unveiling.
The lighthouse has remained in operation since 1901. The original kerosene burner has been upgraded a number of times, and is now a Societe des Establishment eight-ton dioptric first-order bivalve double flashing lens containing 60 pieces of polished prismatic glass. The lens pivots on a bath of 7cwt mercury.
An additional fixed red light was added to cover Julian Rocks to the north.
The Cape Byron Lighthouse was operated by resident keepers until 1989, and is now an automated light managed and maintained by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.
The original lightkeepers office has been transformed into the Cape Byron Lighthouse Maritime Museum, open 7 days from 10am to 4pm. Visitors can also take a 20-minute tour of the lighthouse itself.
Activities at Cape Byron Lighthouse
Cape Byron Lighthouse Maritime Museum
Situated at the base of the Byron Bay lighthouse – in what was once the head lightkeepers office – the Cape Byron Lighthouse Maritime Museum gives visitors a unique historical insight into the lighthouse and town of Byron Bay. The Maritime Museum is open 7 days, 10am – 4pm.
Cape Byron Lighthouse Tour
Take a 20-minute, volunteer-run tour of the iconic Cape Byron Lighthouse. Take advantage of the 360-degree views from the top of Australia’s most easterly point. Tours run from 10am – 3pm daily for a gold-coin donation.
Whale Watching at Cape Byron Lighthouse
The Cape Byron Lighthouse and surrounding headland is a renowned whale watching destination. Between June and November each year, tens of thousands of humpback whales pass the coast on their annual migration. Cape Byron is one of five National Parks in Australia that host the national whale migration census day in June.
Watch the Sunrise
Be the first in Australia to see the sunrise at Cape Byron Headland. Every day, many gather at the Cape Byron Lighthouse to watch the sun rise over the Pacific Ocean. You’re sure to spot a dolphin, turtle, or whale, too!
Cape Byron Walking Track
Weave your way through lush rainforest, and hike across grassy clifftops as you take in the sights and sounds of Cape Byron. The Cape Byron walking track features 3.7km of clearly signposted walkways leading to the lighthouse. Classified as a Grade 3 walk, the track includes many stairs, and short, steep inclines. The walking track can be entered via the Cape Byron Conservation Area or Palm Valley car park.
Facts & Figures
Year built: 1901
Name Origin: The name ‘Cape Byron’ was given by Captain James Cook in honour of John Byron, a British explorer. The Arakwal Bumberlin name for the headland, ‘Walgun,’ means ‘the shoulder’.
Distance from Byron Bay: 3.5km from Jonson Street (approx. 9-minute drive)
Parking: Car parks are available opposite the Cape Byron Information Centre. An $8 entry fee per vehicle applies. Parking is limited during peak times.
Cape Byron Information Centre
Paved walking tracks
Frequently Asked Questions or FAQ’s
Where is the Cape Byron Lighthouse NSW?
The Cape Byron Lighthouse is situated atop Cape Byron Headland in the north east of New South Wales in the Northern Rivers region. The Cape Byron Lighthouse is located in the Byron Shire.
Where is the Cape Byron Lighthouse in Australia?
It’s located on the east coast of Australia in northern New South Wales. The surrounding Cape Byron Headland is the most easterly point of mainland Australia.
What is the Cape Byron Lighthouse known for?
The iconic Cape Byron Lighthouse is known for being situated on the most easterly point of mainland Australia. It is also a renowned whale watching destination.
What is the Cape Byron Lighthouse like?
The Cape Byron Lighthouse is a fine example of colonial architecture, and its striking white silhouette has become an icon of Byron Bay. The surrounding headland offers spectacular cliff faces and uninterrupted views of Byron’s beaches, rolling hinterland, and the magnificent Pacific Ocean.
What to do at the Cape Byron Lighthouse?
Learn about the history of Byron Bay and the Cape Byron Lighthouse at the Cape Byron Lighthouse Maritime Museum.
How far is the Cape Byron Lighthouse from Brisbane?
The Cape Byron Lighthouse is 168km from Brisbane, about a 2 hour and 20 minute drive via the M1.
How far is the Cape Byron Lighthouse from Byron Bay?
The Cape Byron Lighthouse is 3.5km from the town of Byron Bay, about a 9 minute drive.