Sadly enough to say, I am one of those Australians that may not realise just how lucky they are to live in this beautiful country! I have lived in Australia for 28 and a half years (it would be longer, but that's only how long I have been alive for), and over 3 of those years have been in Brisbane, Queensland. Now within easy driving distance from Brisbane (2 hours on a good day, 5 if someone forgets how to drive on the Pacific Highway), is a beautiful coastal tourist mecca called Byron Bay. My point? For some inexplicable reason, I have talked about visiting Byron Bay since I moved to Brisbane. On any given day, it wouldn't be unusual to hear me say 'you know where we should go to / where I want to go to / gosh I would love to go to – Byron Bay'. But somehow sleeping, eating homemade cookie dough and housework always seemed to take up my entire weekend. So when my husband suggested that we actually stop talking about Byron and actually VISIT Byron, I remembered why I continued to keep him around – he has some genuinely good ideas! So we booked a room, packed the car and prayed that the highway was clear (which thankfully it was). Here's a picture of me for no particular reason. Turns out we did not take one single photo of my face in the whole Byron trip, so this is the next best thing:
Ok so this picture clearly has nothing to do with Byron Bay or a lighthouse, but look how adorable my nephew is!
Now even though I had been talking about Byron Bay for years, I realised halfway there that I actually had no idea what was there and what we were supposed to do as tourists! All I knew was that there was a beach, and people loved it (yes I am a sucker for peer pressure – I will claim to be in love with something or somewhere that I know nothing about if it is universally popular). So after a quick check on the Trip Advisor
app, I had a list of activities to do. Admittedly it was a small list – the majority of the 'to-dos' were variations of swimming, surfing and eating.
Emma's Byron Bay To Do List
- Byron Bay Lighthouse
So first step (and easily the most popular attraction according to the people who could be bothered writing reviews on Trip Advisor), was to visit the Byron Bay Lighthouse. Admittedly I did not really read any of the reviews – I saw that it was highly rated and this was enough for me (hello peer pressure!). So with no idea of what to expect (except the obvious – being a lighthouse), we followed the signs and drove up the windy road to find a park, which is understandably difficult. Now, it's quite a hike to the lighthouse from the parking lot (which is fine, I had my walking thongs on), and the view was spectacular. Now I appreciate many things, especially when travelling and sightseeing, however I can honestly say that I have never been overly excited at the prospect of seeing a lighthouse. However I will humbly accept that this lighthouse was amazing, and I found myself staring at it in awe. I'm not too sure exactly why I liked it so much – it's not like it was haunted or owned by Johnny Depp (unfortunately to both), but I tried to take a photo to show how beautiful it really is.
Byron Bay Lighthouse from our car.
I feel that I need to make some very important points about visiting this lighthouse. There are things that a potential visitor must know, and admittedly these are probably mentioned copious times in the reviews, but I like to think that I make more sense than others.
Emma's Lighthouse Tips (with photos!)
- Parking is a valuable commodity – expect to park far away and pay $8 for the privilege. I was also surprised that Byron had not adopted the ticketless parking system like Brisbane – forget to display the ticket correctly on your dashboard or pay the price!
- Proper walking shoes are absolutely necessary to explore the area properly, and it is NOT properly signed (as far as I know – I wasn't really paying attention).
Climbing back to the car: If it seems like a shortcut, I can guarantee you it is not …
3. It is in no way wheelchair, walking frame or stroller friendly. It is only friendly to muscly calves and strong lungs and those not afraid of walking onto oncoming traffic
There are spots with no footpath … Cars seem to expect wandering tourists though so that's a plus.
4. There are magpies at the café. They are not afraid of you. They will eat from your hands whether you like it or not. Yelling at them only makes them laugh
I named them all 'Murder'. At least the view behind their murderous beaks was beautiful!
5. Byron Bay is called a surfers heaven for a reason. You will see the most glorious waves imaginable. Not advised for people with an overwhelming longing to surf and no real opportunity to, or those travelling with a husband who could not imagine anything more boring (can you imagine such people exist?!)
I would have sold my husband for the opportunity to teleport to those beautiful waves.
I can definitely see why the Byron Bay Lighthouse is rated so high – it really is more than just a giant light on a rock. It is an adventure in itself, and simply stunning. There are photo opportunities at every turn (however trying to take a photo without someone in the background giving a peace sign is harder than you would think).
“more than a light on a rock.” Classic.
Once you reach the lighthouse, there is actually not a whole heap to do. You cannot actually climb the lighthouse, and it is not like the TV show 'Round the Twist', so there no hilariously kooky family living inside it (Australians raised in the 90's will understand this reference and will feel my disappointment that this was not the case). So once you reach the lighthouse, get attacked at the café, and wistfully dream to be a surfer, you can either turn around and walk back to the car, or do what we did and explore the walking trails. The walking trails are approximately 2km long and are stunningly beautiful – eventually they lead to nowhere though, so continue walking at your own peril. Of course, 'Peril' is my middle name, so this explains the walking onto oncoming traffic picture of 4 paragraphs ago.
Putting the famed 'walking thongs' to the test. Pants are also recommended – for everyone's sake.
I can honestly say that the Byron Bay Lighthouse was not at all what I expected, and a very pleasant surprise. I will definitely visit again next time I vist Byron (which will hopefully be within the next 28 and a half years, and hopefully with pants and actual walking shoes). Highly recommended. Emma's Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5 (half a star lost because I was unsuccessful in selling my husband for surfing).