Byron Bay is a small coastal village in the far north east of New South Wales. The resident population swells by three or four times in the popular summer holidays and some other peak times during the year. Shop around for great deals during off-peak times!
Byron Bay is so popular for a number of reasons:
There is a wide variety of options for things to do to immerse yourself in Byron Bay – see our activities on offer. Things such as learn to surf, skydiving, microlighting or hanggliding, kayaking with the dolphins, tours of the region, horseriding, golf, fishing, circus skills and art workshops or visiting one of the many attractions. There are also many things to keep the children amused!
So what are you waiting for? Come and see us!
For thousands of years Aboriginal people have come to the Bay to swap stories, find marriage partners and trade goods. They called it ‘Cavvanbah’. European history began in 1770, when Captain James Cook found a safe anchorage and named Cape Byron after his navigator, grandfather of the future poet, Lord Byron.
It wasn’t until the 1880s, when Europeans made more permanent settlement, that the streets were named for other English writers and philosophers. The first industry in Byron was cedar-getting, the ‘red gold’ from the Australian red cedar, toona australis. The timber industry is the origin of the word ‘shoot’ in many local names – Possum Shoot, Coopers Shoot and Skinners Shoot – where the timber-cutters would ‘shoot’ the logs down the hills to be dragged to waiting ships.
The first jetty was built in 1886, and the railway was connected in 1894, and Cavvanbah became Byron Bay. Dairy farmers cleared more land and settled the area. In 1895 the first Norco co-operative was formed to provide cold storage and manage the dairy industry. The introduction of paspalum improved production, and Byron Bay exported butter to the world. The Norco factory was the biggest in the southern hemisphere, expanding from dairy to bacon and other processed meat.
Despite this success, Byron Bay struggled to become a viable community, and was always a poor working town. The smell from the meat and dairy works was, by all accounts, appalling, and the annual slaughter of whales in the 1950s and 1960s made matters worse. Sand mining between the World Wars damaged the environment further, and one by one all these industries declined.
After all the factories and industries closed, surfers discovered the wonderful natural breaks at The Pass, Wategoes and Cosy Corner and the longboarders arrived in the 1960s. This was the beginning of Byron Bay being a tourist destination, and by 1973, when the Aquarius Festival was held in Nimbin, its reputation as a hippy, happy alternative town was established.