“Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.”
It’s been on my bucket list for years to be the first in Australia to see the sun rise one day. In order to do that, you need to be at Australia’s most easterly point, which happens to be in Byron Bay.
On a recent trip to Bangalow to visit Shannon, Willie and Xanthe, we made a plan to walk part-way around the headland before breakfast on Saturday.
While we didn’t make it to the point for sunrise, I can say for now that I’ve at least been to the Cape Byron State Conservation Area, including Australia’s most easterly point.
Just up from the point, literally, as there are stairs in between, sits the majestic Cape Byron Lighthouse.
Opened in 1901, the lighthouse has a range of 27 nautical miles (40 kilometres), shining bright over Byron Bay and the Pacific Ocean.
From May to late October, the Cape Byron Headland is good for a spot for whale watching with the majestic humpback whales often seen breaching the water and playing with their calves as they migrate head for the winter.
While we didn’t spot any whales on Saturday morning, Willie did point out a pod of dolphins frolicking alongside surfers in the waves off The Pass beach.
Once we were back down by the beach, we headed to The Top Shop on Carlyle St for a breakfast of bacon and egg burgers, coffee and acai bowls.
Here are 11 cool facts about Cape Byron Lighthouse in Byron Bay.
- The lighthouse was first lit on 1 December 1901. The opening included a banquet for dignitaries including the New South Wales Premier, John See, but due to adverse weather conditions his ship was delayed until the following day and the banquet was held without him.
- Standing tall, the lighthouse is 23 meters to the top of the lantern.
- The last lighthouse keeper was retired in 1989, when the lighthouse became fully automated.
- The Latin phrase ‘Olim periculum-nunc salus’ is carved into the door of the lighthouse. It translates to ‘Once a danger, now safe’.
- The lighthouse lens measured 2 meters in diameter, weighs 8 tonnes and contains 760 pieces of prismatic glass.
- The light flashes every 15 seconds and continually revolves even throughout the day when the light itself is out
- Half a million people visit the Cape Byron Lighthouse precinct each year.
- For a gold coin donation, you can go on an insider’s tour of the lighthouse. Tours run from 10am to 4pm daily, leaving every 20 mins.
- Visitors can wind their way up the spiral staircase to enjoy the 360 degree views from the top.
- Apparently a herd of mountain goats once inhabited the cliffs around the lighthouse, but were relocated in the 1990’s to protect the fragile coastal cliffs. The story goes that one lone female goat, ‘Wategoat’, evaded capture and has been on the run ever since.
- Fancy living in a lighthouse or at least close to one? The heritage-listed Assistant Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottages are available for holiday rentals from National Parks NSW.