Byron Bay Lighthouse - Cape Byron
Byron Bay Lighthouse has become an icon for Byron Bay and is a must for any visitor to Byron Bay. Well we think it is and always make the effort to get up early and take visiting friends (usually from Sydney) up there to see a sunrise - or should that be sunset...
Ok - a few times we have managed to get up there for the sunrise and always when we get there we think it was worth it - perched on top of the Cape Byron Headland, looking north to Byron Bay and all the way up the coast to Queensland and the Gold coast, with views of Main Beach and Belongil, all the way south along Tallow beach to Broken Head and beyond, waves crashing on the cliffs, surfers out there on the first waves, the sun climbing up out of the ocean, some schools of dolphins and maybe even a few humpback whales if your timing is right - then off for breakfast at one of Byron's many cafes - a great way to start the day.
Sunsets are pretty special too, especially when it's close to or during a full moon as you get the sun setting on one side of the lighthouse as the moon comes up out of the ocean on the other - bargain!!
Byron Bay lighthouse stands on the most eastern lying headland on mainland Australia, and is among the more powerful ones in Australia.
Byron Bay Lighthouse History
Construction started in 1899 when the site was leveled by Mitchell and King - contractors. Charles Harding put together the plans for the lighthouse in the same style as used by New South Wales colonial architect of the day, James Barnet, his predecessor.
James Barnet was renowned for his colonial style towers with large ornate crowns which are easily recognized.
As cape Byron Headland is a tall site already, there was no need for that tall of a structure to be designed.
The cost for the Byron Bay Lighthouse construction
£10,042 paid to the contractors
The Lighthouse is built from concrete blocks and the whole building is cement rendered inside and out.
Byron Bay Lighthouse Lens
The optical lens weighs 8 tonnes and was made by a french company - Societe des Establishment, Henry Lepante, Paris.
It is a dioptric first-order bivalve double flashing lens and contains 760 pieces of highly polished prismatic glass.
The lens revolves on a bath of 7cwt mercury. The original light was a concentric six-wick kerosene burner with the intensity of 145,000 candles - 145,000 cd. This original illuminant was replaced in 1922 by a vaporised kerosene mantle burner, increasing the intensity from 145,000 cd to 500,000 cd.
The light was then converted to mains electricity in 1956, increasing the intensity to 2,200,000 cd and the clock mechanism was replaced by an electric motor. Before this it had been a weight driven mechanism, which works on a similar principle as that of a grandfather clock. An auxiliary fixed red light is also exhibited from the tower to cover Julian Rocks to the north.
The Byron Bay Lighthouse Banquet
Officially opened on 1st December 1901
The Cape Byron Lighthouse opening was seen as a great event in the Byron Bay shire. A special banquet was organized with trains carrying many visitors from Lismore and Murwillumbah for the opening.
The Premier of the day, the Hon. John See (later Sir John See), left Sydney fro the event, accompanied by a number of his colleagues, in the Government steamer 'Victoria'.
However, due to bad weather, the vessel failed to arrive on time, and the steamer was still some thirty miles away when the party started. The Victoria arrived in the bay just before midnight on 30 November 1901, but the weather made it impossible for the party to land until dawn.
After landing, the party was informed that the banquet had taken place on the previous evening - the necessary toast, heartily drunk in the absence of the Premier.
Mr See, after making an acrobatic performance in landing, was cordially cheered, and later formally welcomed at the Great Northern Hotel.
The lighthouse was christened with a rich vintage burgundy - which was not dashed against the tower to waste, but sipped by the ladies and legislators to compensate for having missed all the party the night before.
Cape Byron Headland Preservation
The ownership of the reserve was handed over to the Parks and Wildlife Service of New South Wales in 1998. The reserve was already under a lease to the Cape Byron Headland Reserve Trust who maintain and secure the site and buildings.
Byron Bay Lighthouse Tours
The Byron Bay Headland Trust conduct tours of the lighthouse. Tours can be arranged through the shop located in the former head keepers cottage just down from the lighthouse for a nominal fee.
Tours are guided and take approximately 40 minutes.
Bookings are limited to a maximum of ten people.
Tour Bookings - can be made by phoning 02 6685 5955
Parking Fees - are charged at the main car park just near the lighthouse of around $7 for cars and $3 for motorbikes
- there is a small parking area just down from there where you can park for free - if you are lucky enough to get a spot and don't mind walking up the last steep stretch to the lighthouse - though the stunning views of Cosy corner and Tallow Beach and down the cliffs to the rocks below make it worth the effort.
Walkways and toilets are wheelchair-accessible - but not inside the lighthouse or other buldings.
The walking track is a magnificent walk winding through diverse plant communities of bush and rainforest, with panoramic views of the ocean and hinterland.
Byron Bay Lighthouse Accommodation
Accommodation is available in the old attached assistant keepers cottages.
Provided by the National Parks Wildlife Service - They are very popular during whale watching season as it is a prime spot for this.
There are two cottages available for accommodation -
Cottage 1 - $550 to $2500 for 3 or 7 nights depending on season.
Cottage 2 - $620 to $2800 for 3 or 7 nights depending on season.
You can also book the nearby Clarks Beach Cottage
- A lovely little fishing shack located just up off Clark's Beach
Fees - $840 to $2700 for 4 or 7 nights, depending on season.
Byron Bay Lighthouse Highlights
The rugged headland walk, where you will see sheltered rainforest gullies, and stunning ocean views. Cape Byron Headland is a great spot for watching dolphins, turtles, surfers and even humpback whales on their annual migration if you get your timing right.