Last October, I backpacked around Australia for five weeks. I went into the trip with a rough itinerary of places I’d like to go and things I’d like to see. Of course, when anyone is visiting Australia, normally wildlife tops the list. Initially, I did not build Byron Bay into my must-see’s. From what I heard and read, it was a beachy town with a lot of backpackers. Normally, that’s just not my style (the backpacker part), and I prefer less touristy places (cause trust me, I love beaches). However, my CouchSurfing host changed my mind because he insisted I head down for at least a few days. Any traveler knows to listen to the locals. Thank goodness he did, because guess what? I fell in love with Byron Bay’s wildlife and nature walks! I actually fell in love with the little town as well, even though I was expecting not to like it.
Byron Bay is full of hippie travelers. It’s one of those places people plan to spend a few days and then never actually leave. There’s a strong laid back, backpacker vibe, but in the best way. Byron Bay has lots of options for delicious food (gorgeous açai bowls YES PLEASE), shopping, and nightlife. I made lots of friends here, too!
Little did I know that I would encounter Aussie wildlife right away. I was fairly fresh to Australia, having only spent 4 nights in Coolangatta. I coincidentally planned my trip at the same time the whales migrate south back to cooler waters. The whales travel North in the winter for warmer waters to have their calves, and between September and November head back south during summer (we’re in the Southern hemisphere, remember). So yes, this means that the whales are swimming back WITH THEIR BABIES… and YES you could totally see the little ones breaching with their mothers, it was unreal!
All that to say…
What no one told me about Byron Bay: The abundant animal life!
I thought about doing a whale watching tour at some point, but this was entirely unnecessary as I got to see the humpback whales migrating in Coolangatta. I thought perhaps it was because I got lucky that day. When I arrived in Byron, I walked to the lighthouse there and spotted more of the humpback whales, though!
Unfortunately, I didn’t get to capture any pictures of whales on that walk (the photo is from Coolangatta), because I got sidetracked using all my camera battery on the pod of dolphins I saw… yeah, no big deal. Watching the dolphins surfing the waves was a one of a kind experience. I was grinning ear to ear all by myself and spent probably wayyyy too long just staring at them. What am I saying??? There’s no such thing as spending too much time watching wildlife.
Hands down my favorite animal in Byron Bay was this absolutely adorable wallaby. Of course, at the time, I had no clue what I was looking at. I had heard something about tree kangaroos, for some reason I just thought yeah that sounds right. It’s a little kangaroo! Nope, it was a wallaby!!! The name alone is so cute. This is what I came to see in Australia! And I was already seeing way more than I thought I would in the first week.
Sadly my zoom wasn’t good enough, but when I was at the lighthouse in Byron Bay, I could see a turtle swimming in the waters. Turtles are the cutest aren’t they?! Just me???
Head to the lighthouse and keep your eyes open for some of the animals! I wasn’t paying too much attention to the bird life (because: whales and dolphins) but I am sure there’s plenty. The walk goes along the coast, which boasts blue and turquoise waters and lots of greenery.
I heard that there’s a lot to explore in the hinterland as well, including a waterfall (!) but I didn’t have a car or time to plan that in. However, I’m sure you would encounter even more wildlife. If you’re into surfing, Byron Bay is also a great place to head (especially if you are a beginner).
So what are you waiting for? Head to Byron Bay to get a taste of Australia’s wildlife!