Byron Bay's endless beaches and reliable surf break s have been attracting surfers for years. But today its beaches draw visitors for meditation, walking and sheltered swimming as much as their tubular waves. kayak through clear waters beside a pod of bottle-nose dolphins in Cape Byron marine Park, or snorkel or scuba dive among sea turtles at Julian Rocks. Hit the popular right-hand point break, The pass, halfway between Main Beach and the Cape Byron Headland. Ride along isolated Seven Mile beach on horseback or practise yoga while overlooking the ocean.
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.
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 1880's, when Europeans make more permanent settlement, that the streets were named for other English writers and philosophers. The first industry in Byron was cedar - getting, the 'reed 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 Skinner 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 1950's and 1960's 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 long-boarders arrive in the 106-'s/ 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.