We picked up our campervan in Brisbane and kitted it out with plenty of food, booze and solar powered fairy lights. After that it was time to head on down to our first stop of our big old Australian adventure – Byron Bay.
For our first few nights in the van, we decided to treat ourselves and splash out on a proper holiday park. We stayed in Discovery Park, Byron Bay, which had a couple of swimming pools, nice camp kitchens and shower blocks. You could also hire bikes & go karts from reception.
There are plenty of cheaper ways to camp than holiday parks, but we wanted to ease in to our van adventure. Discovery Park cost us $45 per night for a powdered site, so about £30.
It’s on the outskirts of the town, about a 30 minute walk to the centre. We had one full day in Byron so decided to make the most of it by getting an early(ish) start and walking along the beaches into town. In hindsight, we really should have hired bikes – the sun was beating down all day, so walking 12km in the heat was a pretty bad plan.
The beaches are of course the main attraction of Byon Bay, and I can see why. There’s something for everyone… even nudists, although we didn’t go to that particular beach (it’s Tyagarah Beach for those who’re interested). The first beach on the way into town, Belongil Beach, is a doggy friendly beach and we had fun watching all the happy dogs playing about along the edge of the water, having the time of their lives.
Walking all the way over the beaches to the headland seemed to take no time at all with the sea breeze keeping us cool, and the closer we got to Cape Byron, the more the vibe of the beaches changed to become surf central. By the time we hit Clarkes Beach, surfers of all abilities were out on the water perfecting their skills. There were plenty of other people just chilling out on the beach working on their tans and, in the case of Blakey and I, scoffing ham sandwiches.
Cape Byron Hiking Trail
We’re not really ones for sitting on a beach for any length of time, so we were soon up again and decided to walk to Cape Byron Lighthouse and on the way stop at the most easterly point of the Australian mainland.
Turns out it’s a pretty hard walk in the boiling hot sunshine – I would definitely recommend starting walking before the sun gets too high in the sky. It’s not particularly steep or strenuous, it’s just bloody hot.
It’s a 4km loop which took us through varying landscapes of rainforest, beaches, grassland and clifftops. We started off on the boardwalk overlooking Main Beach, with a detour to Fisherman’s Lookout which overlooks The Pass, where all the experienced surfers were out playing on the bigger waves.
There’s a lookout point right at the end of the headland which had beautiful views of the beaches to the north. We were lucky enough to see pods of hundreds of dolphins leaping and swimming in the waves around the lookout, which gave us a great excuse to stop and soak in the view.
After a good little break at the lookout, we continued on up to the lighthouse, up a million steps. OK, so probably about 30 but the heat made everything seem much harder. The lighthouse was crowded with people who had cheated and arrived at the viewpoint by bus or car. It was a very nice lighthouse, finished in 1901 and still beautifully white and shiny. It attracts nearly half a million visitors per year so it must be good. I’m sure I would have appreciated it more if I was less sweaty and, by this point, sunburnt.
Looking south from the lighthouse gave us a beautiful view of Tallow Beach, which is apparently one of the most photographed beaches along the east coast. From our vantage point it looked totally unspoilt, backing onto Arakwal National Park with no buildings in sight for miles.
The loop continued back to town via a sheltered rainforest track along the ridge, which didn’t offer great views but by this time we were just pleased to be in the shade.
Byron Bay Town
By the time we’d finished our hike and arrived back in town, it was pretty late in the day. I can’t say we saw too much of the town, but what we did see was inviting and friendly – lots of interesting restaurants and little boutique shops, healthy looking cafes serving the latest vegan smoothies… it’s a cool little town to spend an evening but not somewhere you’ll want to spend your days – save those for the water.