The continent’s easternmost point
This rocky headland, 2 km east of Byron Bay, is the furthest east you can get on the Australian mainland. Several similarly romantic spots have been named after the notorious Romantic poet, Lord Byron. This is the exception. The cape was discovered by Captain Cook before Byron was even born, and was named after his more respectable (and almost equally gifted) grandfather John Byron, the celebrated navigator. John Byron believed in journeying further afield than the continental boudoirs which were to become his grandson’s favourite field of exploration. Byron senior’s expertise as a navigator gained him the nickname ‘Foul-weather Jack’. Historians dispute whether this was because he was an expert at getting out of foul weather, or because his presence simply attracted it. Either way, between 1764 and 1766 he circumnavigated the globe – braving typhoons, hurricanes and waterspouts en route. However, one cape he never rounded was Cape Byron. His round-the-world foul-weather odyssey bypassed the calm waters off Cape Byron by several thousand kilometres. (Foul-weather Jack’s reputation might not have survived the indignity of being becalmed.)
The lighthouse which now stands on the cape dates from 1901, and its beaming equipment is said to be among the most powerful in Australia. To reach the lighthouse, drive up from Byron Bay to the end of Lighthouse Road. A kilometre or so before the end of this road is the Captain Cook Lookout, where you can head off along the path which leads for 3 km around the headland.
Cape Byron is a favourite spot with sunrise watchers. Also you can often see dolphins playing far out in the ocean. Between mid-June and mid-July you can sometimes see the humpbacked whales on their migration north to spawn, and between mid-September and mid-October they follow the same route back towards the Antarctic.