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 Islands Information

Place: Byron Bay Australia

Byron Bay - An Alternative Australian Holiday Destination   by Miguel Scaccialupo


Byron Bay is a beautiful and culturally rich town located on the north coast of of New South Wales, an eastern Australian state washed by the waters of the Pacific Ocean. A popular coastal residential area known for its relaxed atmosphere and diverse population, it is also an increasingly popular Australian holiday destination.

About 180 kilometres south of Brisbane and 800 kilometres north of Sydney, the Byron Bay area is Australia's eastern-most mainland coastal region. Byron Bay enjoys a mild sub-tropical climate, with summer temperatures averaging 25 to 30 degrees Celsius and average winter temperatures only slightly lower at 20 to 25 degrees Celsius. The area's economy is based mainly on tourism and agriculture, with an estimated 1.7 million tourists visiting each year. Thriving small businesses focus on alternative, cultural and knowledge industries, and the area is home to a steadily growing population of writers, artists and filmmakers.

The town of Byron Bay is renowned for the rich diversity of its weekend markets, restaurants, shops and fashion outlets. The Byron Bay area including the hilly hinterland is also known as something of a mecca for alternative lifestylers who have enriched the local culture and economy with an enormous variety of small alternative food, art, craft, health and natural therapy industries. An area of spectacular natural beauty and glorious beaches, outdoor activities abound in Byron Bay, ranging from bushwalking and climbing in the nearby hills to surfing, diving, snorkelling, whale watching, gliding, hang-gliding, horse riding and bike riding.

The north coast of New South Wales is the traditional country of the Bunjalung people. Two sub-groups of the Bunjalung frequented the Byron Bay area, the Arakwal in the south and the Minjunbal in the north. Aboriginal people lived in and visited the Byron Bay area for over 20,000 years. They knew the area as Walgun (The Shoulder), a place of plenty with sheltered sandy beaches, abundant seafood, wildlife and rainforest fruits, and permanent clean spring water. Unfortunately, many coastal Aboriginal sites have been lost to sandmining and development, but the remaining sites provide strong evidence of a vibrant and versatile culture that thrived in an abundant natural environment. Middens, ceremonial Bora rings, burial sites and specially marked trees have all been recorded in the area. The surviving midden and camp site at Cape Byron's Palm Valley is definitely the oldest of its type in the region at over 1,000 years old.

Cape Byron is one of Byron Bay's main natural attractions, and is located just 3 km from the Byron Bay Post Office. Cape Byron has a well-deserved international reputation as one of the most beautiful locations in the world, boasting lush rainforest, rocky cliff faces, magnificent views of the Byron Bay hinterland and ocean, and excellent vantage points for watching whales and dolphins from the Cape Byron headland. At least two hours should be allowed for a comfortable walk around Cape Byron's 5km walking trail. The trail passes through coastal heath, littoral rainforest, banksia forest and many beautiful vantage points. Cape Byron's Aboriginal heritage lives on today, with members of the Arakwal clan, traditional custodians of the Byron Bay area, playing an active role in the preservation of traditional sites.

About the Author

Miguel Scaccialupo writes regularly on Australian Outback Tour topics including Alice Springs Tour itineraries and shopping for Aboriginal Art.