A Brief History of Byron Bay…

Have you ever wondered about Byron Bay’s past?

Byron hasn’t always been a laid-back surfer town…

The original inhabitants were the Arakwal people, part of the Bundjalung group. They called the area Cavvanbah, meaning meeting place.


Byron Bay has changed dramatically in the last 250 years. Here’s a time line of European history…

1770 : Captain Cook named Cape Byron as he was sailing past


1828 : William Johns on the HMAS Rainbow mapped the Bay

1884/5 : The village of Cavvanbah was surveyed. 200 lots of land were sold.

1894 : Opening of the railway. Cavvanbah was renamed Byron Bay.


Early 1900’s : Dairy and pig industry dominated.

1930’s : Sand mining was established between Ballina and Brunswick Heads


1954-62 : The whaling industry took as many as 150 humpback whales per year.


1960’s : Surfers discovered the many beaches around Byron Bay.


1973 : Nimbin’s Aquarious Festival established Byron Bay as hippy / alternative town.

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1980’s : Byron Bay discovered by backpackers as a must visit destination.


1990’s – present : Tourism is the largest industry in Byron Bay, with people flocking from all over the world to enjoy the beaches, the surf, the markets, the festivals and that famous Byron atmosphere!

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