Spot Check: Byron Bay
Cape Byron is Australia's most easterly point. The famous lighthouse on top of the headland is actually a perfect place to check swell size and direction. To the north lies Wategos and The Pass and Tallows is on the southern side of The Cape. –eyereflect.com
All of the aerial shots were taken on Wednesday May 5, 2010 whilst a neat little 3-4ft ENE swell was hitting the nicely shaped bank at The Pass perfectly. – eyereflect.com
Looking back at iconic Cape Byron from east to west. You can see the ENE swell refracting and how the northern side of the cape is sheltered in Sth winds and the southern side in northerlies. – eyereflect.com
The sandbank at The Pass is in great shape at present. This shot was taken on May 5, 2010. There haven’t been any big swells to smash the banks up since the big E swell in May 2009 or Cyclone Jasper in late March/April 09. Cyclone Ului in March 2010 only got up to 5ft really. – eyereflect.com
An overview from above Spectators rock, the lookout and the tightly packed sandbank. You can really see how the sand congregates or builds up on the rocks after months of summer NE winds etc. – eyereflect.com
Another great angle of the bank at The Pass showing the length of ride possible from outside Spectators through to Clarke’s Beach.
Suss the chop outside. This is a typical day you may choose to surf The Pass. That is when everywhere is blown out and outta control in howling SE winds. Kieren Perrow slotted on an inside runner. – Shield.
The water is alive off Byron’s beaches. Whales, sharks, fish – you name it. There have been a few fatal shark attacks at Byron over the years. Divers have been taken off Julian Rocks, surfers at The Pass and Tallows. No need to stress, this guy is a dolphin. More chance of being killed by a random bee sting drinking a beer on the lawn at the top pub me thinks. – eyereflect.com
Ah Tallows the summer saviour. The classic back beach scenario. Protected from the NE wind. Tallows is a beautiful beach that can turn on, or be horrible depending on wind/swell conditions and of course bank quality. – eyereflect.com
Just south of Byron, down the other end of Tallows lies Suffolk Park and then Broken Head. Broken has a fun though often fickle point break and some nice beachies too. – Bernhard.
Ah empty back beach bliss on May 5, 2010. – eyereflect.com
You can still find some empty set ups if you’re willing to go for a hike. – eyereflect.com
When the sand builds up at The Wreck it generally shoots left and right in one or two separate A-frame peaks. The left can get extremely hollow at times. – Shield.
Belongil just north of Byron used to be home to The Meatworks factory back in the day. You can still escape the crowds if you are lucky. Again it has to be a small to medium, peaky swell or it just closes out. – Bartles.
Coastalwatch Editor Ben Horvath discusses the unique variables and characteristics that come into play at Australia’s most easterly point.
Cape Byron is Australia's most easterly point. The famous lighthouse on top of the headland is actually a perfect place to check swell size and direction. To the north lies Wategoes, The Pass and, in the distance, the beach breaks at The Wreck, Belongil and Tyagara, while southwards Tallows, Suffolk Park and Broken Head offer a variety of tempting beach breaks.
Wategoes is generally a slow mals wave, offering shelter from southerly winds. But keep an eye on sand buildup, as occasionally a faster hollow bank forms to catch out the crowd.
The Pass can be awesome or pussy, depending on the bank quality. If the sand is hard-packed outside of Spectators Rock right through to Clarkes, The Pass can be half a kilometre of hollow, wrapping fun, best in medium east to northeast swells and south to southeast winds or huge south swells and lower tides.
However, if the sand is disjointed or guttered and if the holiday season crowds are in full force, The Pass can be very frustrating, to say the least.
Clarkes often closes out but occasionally gets really good in peaky northeast swells or big, disjointed swells and offshore southerly winds. The Wreck is a pretty consistent beach-break that can get crowded because of its proximity to town. Peaky, often hollow wedges are the order of the day here, best in medium east to northeast swells or larger south’s with southwest to southeast winds. Farther up the beach past the old meat-works at Belongil and beyond can be a less crowded alternative, depending on bank quality -well worth a check, though.
On the southern side of the Cape, Tallows is a swell magnet that provides all-important protection from northeast winds. For this reason and also the fact that Tallows is quite a high-quality, consistent beach break, it does get crowded. It's best in west through to northeast winds and small to medium swells. Down the beach towards Suffolk Park and Broken Head there are often some good quality beach breaks in west or southwest winds and medium-sized swells. Broken Head Point can be insane if the sand is stacked against the rocks, as it often is in the autumn and early winter months. Best on low to mid tide with southwest to south winds and medium east to northeast swells, Broken can barrel for hundreds of metres along a shallow, dredging sandbank.
Just behind Broken, a series of back beaches and the northern end of Seven Mile are accessible to the adventurous. Go searching but tread with respect, as this is a full mini-rainforest setting.
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