Byron Bay is a beachside town in the north of the state of New South Wales in Australia. It is located 759 kilometres north of Sydney and 140 kilometres south of Brisbane. Cape Byron, a headland adjacent to the town, is the easternmost point of mainland Australia. The town has a population of about 5,600 people and is the nucleus of Byron Shire, which has in excess of 30,000 residents (ABS estimate 2003). Captain James Cook named Cape Byron after circumnavigator of the world John Byron.
For thousands of years Aboriginal people came to the Bay to swap stories, find marriage partners and trade goods. They called it Cavvanbah.
European history began in 1770, when Captain James Cook found a safe anchorage and named Cape Byron after John Byron, who had circumnavigated the world and who was later the grandfather of English poet Lord Byron. In the 1880s, when Europeans settled more permanently, streets were named for other English writers and philosophers.
The first industry in Byron was cedar-getting, the "red gold" from the Australian red cedar, Toona australis. The timber industry is the origin of the word "shoot" in many local names – Possum Shoot, Coopers Shoot and Skinners Shoot – where the timber-cutters would "shoot" the logs down the hills to be dragged to waiting ships.
Byron Bay has a history of primary industrial production (dairy factory, abattoirs, whaling until 1963, fishing) and was a significant, but hazardous, sea port.
The first jetty was built in 1886, and the railway was connected in 1894, and Cavvanbah became Byron Bay in 1894.Dairy farmers cleared more land and settled the area. In 1895, the Norco Co-operative was formed to provide cold storage and manage the dairy industry. The introduction of paspalum improved production, and Byron Bay exported butter to the world. The Norco factory was the biggest in the southern hemisphere, expanding from dairy to bacon and other processed meat.
working town. The smell from the meat and dairy works was, by all accounts, appalling, and the annual slaughter of whales in the 1950s and 1960s made matters worse. Sand mining between the World Wars damaged the environment further, and one by one all these industries declined.
After all the factories and industries closed, surfers discovered the wonderful natural breaks at The Pass, Watego's and Cosy Corner and the longboarders arrived in the 1960s. This was the beginning of Byron Bay as a tourist destination, and by 1973, when the Aquarius Festival was held in Nimbin, its reputation as a hippy, happy, alternative town was established.Byron Bay is part of the erosion caldera of an ancient shield volcano, the Tweed Volcano, which erupted 23 million years ago. The volcano formed as a result of the Indo-Australian Plate moving over the East Australia hotspot.