Our Local Region
Many sightseeing and leisure activities can be enjoyed in Australia's beautiful Byron Bay Rainbow Region. These include swimming and surfing at a range of magnificent beaches, whale watching, snorkelling and scuba diving, kayaking with dolphins, and strolling along the Cape Byron Lighthouse Walk, taking in breathtaking ocean views.
There are numerous coastal walks and National Parks in which to discover bush walking trails, waterfalls and swimming holes. You can explore local markets, enjoy Byron Bay’s cosmopolitan cafes and restaurants, catch a show of local performers and musicians, and much more.
The Bundjalung Nation
The Bundjalung – Arakwal Bumberlin people are the recognised Aboriginal Traditional Custodians of Cavanbah (Byron Bay). They have lived in the coastal landscape around the Byron Bay area for at least 22,000 years. The Arakwal people, together with neighbouring clans, make up part of the wider Bundjalung Nation, which extends to Grafton and the Clarence River in the south, up north past Tweed River to the Nerang River in south Queensland, and out west to the Great Dividing Range.
Cavanbah means ‘meeting place’. With its expansive beaches and secluded places it was traditionally a favourite home base and meeting place for the Arakwal people and other Bundjalung nation tribes. Arakwal Country extends from Seven Mile Beach south of Broken Head to the Brunswick River up north, out to the escarpment west of Byron Bay, and east out into the Tasman Sea.
The Bundjalung of Byron Bay Aboriginal Corporation (Arakwal) was established in 1996 with a primary focus on strengthening Aboriginal identity, cultural values, customs and practices and working for the betterment of the Arakwal People, land and waters. This includes focusing on indigenous resource and co-management agreements, land-use plans, strategies and development proposals, Land and Coastcare activities, and working and caring for Arakwal National Park and the Cape Byron Marine Park.
Arakwal National Park and Cape Byron Marine Park
The Arakwal National Park is a nature reserve located 3.2km south of Cumbebin (Byron Bay) behind the dunal area along Tallow Beach. It is comprised of an expansive stretch of secluded sands bordered by 183 hectares of rich coastal heath which includes Tallow Creek, small lakes and wetlands. The Park is a haven for migratory birds and wildlife, and a great place for swimming, birdwatching and seeing humpback whales on their annual migrations.
Arakwal National Park is an important habitat for several threatened plant species and also a temporary home to a range of migratory animals. During autumn and winter, the growing, flowering and fruiting season attracts birds, flying foxes and micro bats. You can also see wallabies, white-bellied sea eagles and the superb fairy wren.
Humpback whales, drift by out to sea as they cycle annually between northern Queensland and the freezing waters of the Antarctic. In winter the whales head north to the Great Barrier Reef for warmer waters. In spring you can watch from the beach as the whales pass by on their way home from the Great Barrier Reef to Antarctica, many with calves.
From Sangsurya Retreat Centre you can take a magnificent nature walk through the pristine coastal bushland of Arakwal National Park. Leaving from Sangsurya, the walk takes approximately 35 minutes and culminates at the sweeping shores of Tallows Beach and its peaceful Ti-Tree lake. After swimming and relaxing a bus can be arranged for your return journey to Sangsurya.
The Cape Byron Marine Park is adjacent to the Arakwal National Park. It extends approximately 37 km along the coastline from the Brunswick River to Lennox Head and includes Belongil Creek and Tallow Creek. The marine park sustains many subtropical marine habitats which supports abundant biodiversity including some threatened and protected species.
Cape Byron is the most easterly point of the Australian mainland. The area includes Cape Byron Lighthouse, Cape Byron State Conservation Area, Wategoes Beach, the Pass, Julian Rocks and Clarkes Beach. Julian Rocks is home to numerous sea animals, including sharks, rays, turtles, eels, starfish and corals, which makes it a very is a popular snorkelling and scuba diving destination.
A drive to the Lighthouse from Sangsurya Retreat Centre takes about 12 minutes. From the Lighthouse you can enjoy walking around the headland pathways and taking a swim at the sheltered coves of Wategoes Beach or Cosy Corner. There are wonderful cafes along the way.