My Legendary Drive around Byron Shire: Day 1
Today I enjoy private tour of the Cape Byron Lighthouse with park ranger Lee Middleton. It is located on the easternmost tip of Australia and is still fully operational. Built in 1901, it used to require three lighthouse operators, but now everything is automated.
To me it looks like it is perched on the back of a large green sleeping dragon that stretches out into the Pacific Ocean. There is a spectacular 700 metre walk from the lighthouse to the eastern edge of the country. Since the lighthouse is surrounded almost completely by water, there are actually two lights, the main light that throws flashes two beams every 15 seconds and a secondary passive red warning light that guides ships coming from the north. The main light is the original French Henry LePaute Fresnel lens, which is two metres in diameter and made up of 760 pieces of highly polished prismatic glass weighing eight tonnes, which Lee tells me is heavier than the largest African elephant. I can only begin to imagine how hard it must have been to get it up the 23 metre tower.
Of course the main attraction of walking up the 72 circular stairs is the stupendous view you get of the wide blue Pacific Ocean, across the red-roofed lighthouse keepers’ cottages to the long sweep of Tallow Beach to the south and over the gaggle of kayakers looking for dolphins at Wategos Beach to the north. Directly below us we see half a dozen huge turtles, possibly loggerhead or hawksbill, swimming in the clear waters as well as a couple of manta rays. Lee tells me that in the winter months, more than 22,000 humpback whales pass right in front of the lighthouse on their annual migration. Now that’s a perfect reason for me to return!
I am already looking for an excuse to come back as I love the tranquil surrounds of my accommodation at the all-suite Byron at Byron Resort which is immersed 45 hectares of rainforest behind Tallow Beach. I love the deep bath, the screened porches both front and back and the spacious living area with its kitchen and washer dryer….all the amenities you need for a relaxing beach vacation. And the food at the airy restaurant epitomises Byron’s relaxed style…fabulous fish and all manner of local fruits, vegies, cheeses, nuts and other goodies in inspired preparations.