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Saturday, April 9, 2016

Cape Byron State Conservation Area, Byron Bay, New South Wales.

Cape Byron Lighthouse
A fine day was forecast so we decided to go to Byron Bay and walk around the headland. We parked at Captain Cook Lookout so that we could do the full circuit of the Cape Byron Walking Track. It is $4 an hour to park but because we have an annual NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service Parks Pass we didn’t have to pay. We recently purchased a 2 year Country Parks Pass for $75 and it has more than payed for itself in only a few weeks.

Cape Byron Walking Track: 3.9 km loop, moderate Class 3 walk. Short steep hills and many steps.

The first leg of the walk took us past Clarkes Beach where National Parks and Wildlife Services NSW hire out Beach Cottages. There are excellent views from the path back to Byron Bay. The water was clear and inviting and watching the perfect small waves rolling in we could see why Byron Bay is such a surfing mecca.

Looking back over Clarkes Beach to Byron Bay

Before long we arrived at The Pass where there is a small boat ramp and a Cafe.

The Pass
The pristine waters around Cape Byron play host to dolphins all year round and during the months of May to October humpback whales pass by on their migration between Antarctica and Queensland. There are signs posted at he beaches spelling out the rules regarding how close boats and other water craft can approach the dolphins and whales in order to not disturb them.

From The Pass we climbed up through Palm Valley to Wategos Beach. The tide was out and we had a pleasant walk along the sandy beach. 

Wategos Beach
Wategos Beach looking back towards Byron Bay.
We climbed the stairs at the end of the beach and made our way through coastal heath before climbing the many steps to Australia’s Most Easterly Point.

Australia's Most Easterly Point
From Australia's Most Easterly Point we continued on to a lookout just below the lighthouse complex.

Ascending to Cape Byron Lighthouse
The Assistant Lighthouse Keepers Cottages
From the lookout we made our way up many steps to Cape Byron Lighthouse. There are tours of the lighthouse every 20 minutes between 10 am and 3 pm for a gold coin donation. The Assistant Lighthouse Keepers Cottages can be booked as holiday accommodation through the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Cape Byron Lighthouse on the way up.
Cape Byron Lighthouse on the way down.
South of the Lighthouse Information Centre complex there is a lookout point with excellent views of Cosy Corner, Tallow Beach and Arakwal National Park.

Cosy Corner, TallowsBeach and Arakwal National Park
From here the Cape Byron Walking Track descends along Tallow Ridge through natural coastal bushland. There is a paragliding platform tucked into the ridge over Tallow Beach and I was tempted to give it a go but there was nobody in attendance at the platform when we arrived. I guess more organised people than me make bookings in Byron Bay. 

Tallow Ridge and Paragliding Platform (center).
We made our way along the sandy track and before long we came out at Lee Lane and were back at the car park.

Details for Cape Byron State Conservation Park:
Where: Lighthouse Road, Cape Byron, Byron Bay, NSW.
Vehicle Fee: Daily rate: $8 per vehicle/ $4 motorcycles at the Cape Byron Lighthouse and Information Centre carpark.
Parking: $4 per hour per vehicle at Captain Cook Lookout, Cosy Corner and The Pass carparks.
Walk: 3.9 km loop around the Cape Byron headland; moderate Class 3 walk. Short steep hills and many steps.
Facilities: There are toilets at Captain Cook Parking Area, The Pass, Wategos Beach and the Cape Byron Lighthouse and Information Centre. There is a picnic area at Wategos Beach. The Pass Cafe is right next to the track and the Cape Byron Lighthouse Cafe at the Information Centre has amazing views.

Cape Byron Lighthouse Tours: Every 20 minutes from 10 am to 3 pm there are tours of the Lighthouse conducted by volunteers ( Except Christmas Day and bad weather). Gold coin donation. No bookings required. Moderate grade walk. This activity is listed as suitable for children over the age of five.

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