Byron Bay

 

Byron Bay


Byron Bay

Byron Bay is a different place. At times you may think you are back in the 1970's. It is not unusual to see people sitting around strumming a guitar, with long hair, wearing psychedelic flares, head bands and beads. Some of the locals are very poor and some are very rich. Backpackers are everywhere. Byron Bay is the most easterly part of Australia and because of this it is closer to the Continental Shelf and the deep ocean waters. This combined with the nutrients in the water and the temperature makes it a haven for all kinds of fish. Both temperate and tropical fish turn up here.

Byron Bay is a different place. At times you may think you are back in the 1970's. It is not unusual to see people sitting around strumming a guitar, with long hair, wearing psychedelic flares, head bands and beads. Some of the locals are very poor and some are very rich. Backpackers are everywhere. Byron Bay is the most easterly part of Australia and because of this it is closer to the Continental Shelf and the deep ocean waters. This combined with the nutrients in the water and the temperature makes it a haven for all kinds of fish. Both temperate and tropical fish turn up here.

It was a place of plenty, this point of land the Aboriginal people called Walgun, which means The Shoulder. It gave views, sheltered and sandy beaches, seafood, wildlife, rainforest fruits, and always clean spring water. Aboriginal people have lived and visited the area for at least 22,000 years, for Walgun was also a place for many Dreamtime stories. About 6,000 years ago, sea levels rose and drowned eight kilometres of land around Cape Byron, leaving it exposed as a coastal promontory and submerging many ancient Aboriginal sites.

Many coastal sites have also been lost to the ravages of sandmining and development. Burial sites, middens, scarred trees, and ceremonial Bora rings have all been recorded. In Cape's Palm Valley, the surviving midden and open camp site is over 1,000 years old - probably the only and definitely the oldest of its type in the region. The sites which remain are testament to a vibrant culture and an abundant environment. The NSW north coast is the traditional territory of the Bunjalung people. Two sub-groups included the Byron Bay area in their territory. The Arakwal were in the south; the Minjunbal had the north. It is estimated that 200 years ago, about 500 Aboriginals lived here.

Captain Cook sailed past in May 1770 and named Cape Byron as a tribute to Admiral Byron. Master of HMAS Rainbow, William Johns, mapped the bay and its three rocks in 1828. Cedar cutters made occasional camps at the bay and logs were shipped from Tallow Beach. The village of Cavvanbah was surveyed in 1884 and in December 1885, 200 lots were sold in the first speculative land sale. The land sales, building of the jetty in 1886, and opening of the railway in 1894 (when the village of Cavvanbah became Byron Bay), set the scene for growth. As the rush for timber was slowing dairy men were starting to settle the land. The late 1930's saw the beginning of sand mining. The whaling industry in Byron Bay had a short life. In July 1954, the first whale was taken for the Byron Bay Whaling Co. By 1962 the Bay's whaling industries was gone.

And than in the late 60's came the surfers, in the 70's the hippies and from the 80's onwards the yuppies, the gurus, the seekers and the boomers.

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