Tag Archives: Byron Bay

Sea changing Byron Bay

Copyright: Louise Creely

If you haven’t been to Byron in a while, be prepared to be surprised – and not just by the traffic jam going into the township.

The beach will take your breath away, but not in the usual way.

We’ve been coming here for over 20 years and we’ve never seen it quite like this.

Over the past few months of wild weather, metres of beach have been ripped away, including the fringing coastal heathlands, remnants of which now litter the usually pristine sand.

Copyright: Louise Creely

At the Clarke’s Beach Caravan Park, a place of many memories of crazy camping days with our kids, the stairs to the beach have been trashed.

Copyright: Louise Creely

Stairs to Clarke’s Beach Caravan Park…

It looks like the beach has been totally transformed, ripped away, never to return.

But wait. Long buried fences, uncovered by the waves, are a clue that the dune levels and the beach itself were once at about the same level it is now.

Copyright: Louise Creely

Waves, currents and tides constantly change the shape of our beaches. One day they can be carved away, and days, months, maybe years later, they can be built up again with huge deposits of sand and silt carried in from other beaches along our coastline.

Somehow, Byron’s beaches and surrounds still hold their charm. There’s just something about this place that makes you feel totally zen. And that works for me…

Copyright: Louise Creely

Copyright: Louise Creely

a beach somewhere…

The beaches near and not too far from us are so full of life, and not just human life (although there’s a lot of that). The ‘beachscape’ is always changing shape, carried away and built up again with the wild winds and shifting tides.

This weekend, on a visit to Byron Bay, the beach was back. Where not so long ago it was a strip of sand, now it stretches far and wide.

Copyright: Louise Ralph

dusk settles on another absolutely perfect day at Byron Bay…

And on another beach wander closer to home, the shoreline at Pottsville beach is littered with pumice stone. Queensland University of Technology’s pumice expert Dr Scott Bryan explained the mystery to Sydney Morning Herald columnist Tim the Yowie Man:

‘ “It’s the result of the July 2012 eruption of the Havre Seamount, which is about 1000 kilometres north of Auckland”… the underwater volcano spewed out a ”raft of pumice estimated to be more than 20,000 square kilometres in size”. That’s a surface area bigger than Belgium.’ (SMH, 10 January 2014)

A closer look at the ‘moving’ volcanic stones littering our beach reveals that marine creatures have hitched a ride on the pumice. Sometimes they are welcome, like coral-building species, and sometimes they are invasive species.

Copyright: Louise Ralph

mysterious creatures hitch rides on the pumice stone to seed or invade the oceans

There is something magical about wandering along a beach somewhere. Something that feeds your soul, connects you to the power and mystery of nature, and keeps drawing you back time and again.

Copyright: Louise Ralph

Sand squiggles or aerial views? It depends on your perspective…

Another Byron Bay sunrise…

When our weeks are so jam-packed that the fast-lane looks like easy street, there’s nothing better than jumping in the DA and heading off for some chill time in Byron Bay.

We arrive late afternoon Friday and, as always, head straight to the beach.

In January, ex-tropical cyclone Oswald cut a devastating path through Queensland and hammered northern New South Wales on its way to rain on Sydney’s parade.

Copyright: Louise Ralph

Ex-tropical cyclone Oswald leaves its mark on Byron Bay’s pristine shoreline.

The evidence of Oswald’s passing hits us immediately.

The sand has been effortlessly carved away, the beach is re-configured, swaths of coastal vegetation are gone.

But today, it’s calm and raining gently – and the insanity of city life and relentless storms has slipped away.

It’s one of those rare moments you just want to hang onto, when even the grey skies and persistent drizzle can’t dampen our spirits.

If I was any more relaxed, I think I’d fall over backwards.

Of course, the serenity can’t last.

EB is already nudging me to get my runners on so we can do the lighthouse circuit before the light fades.

Step aside Oswald… EB is a force to be reckoned with.

Copyright: Louise Ralph

Blissed out in Byron Bay

Copyright: Louise Ralph

It’s dusk and we’re walking up to the lighthouse at Byron Bay, that magnificent most-easterly point in Australia, where the azure sea wraps around the rocky headland.

From here, you can see humpback whales on their annual migration – heading north between May and August to breed and returning south between September and November. But there aren’t any whales out here today.

Today, we’re in for a treat – something I’ve never seen in decades of walking this Cape Byron pathway.

All the way along this stretch of coastline from the Cape to Tallow Beach, pods of dolphins are surfing the waves and feeding.

One pod of about ten dolphins is fishing, shadowed by gulls that swoop to catch fish darting too close to the surface in all the chaos.

More dolphins streak in, alerted to the action by the squawking gulls. It’s an incredible sight. At least eight groups of between three and ten (or maybe more) dolphins are here.

Four dolphins are more intent on surfing at breakneck speed down the front of waves than fishing. They duck and weave, then leap out of the water in what is a moment of sheer joy. We can’t help but laugh. It’s intoxicating to watch.

EB can’t stand still forever though, so he’s off, bounding up and down the awkwardly-spaced stairs to the lighthouse and back. It reminds me of trekking in Nepal, when our travel companions said he was more mountain goat than human.

With EB, there’s no bistaari, bistaari (slowly, slowly). But what’s not to like? He makes me smile as much as those exhuberant dolphins do.

Finally, I drag myself away from the dolphin antics, and we continue along the circuit through the coastal forest.

Male brush turkeys are intent on raking leaf litter into impressive mounds, where several females may be convinced to lay single eggs, before leaving the male to deal with the whole incubation thing.

EB decides to run down the hillside (he loves stairs, that boy), while I stop to investigate a rustle in the bushes. We’ve already seen a green tree snake today, so I’m not in a hurry to poke around.

But just off the track, staring at me with enormous brown eyes, is the cutest young swamp wallaby. They’re shy creatures, so it’s the first one I’ve seen here.

The tiny wallaby bounds off, and further along the track I see an adult. It’s bigger, more solid. It lifts its head to observe EB running up to meet me, then continues feeding, unperturbed.

Dusk has always been my favourite time of the day and this evening, after last night’s liquid burnt orange moon, just confirms it.

It also serves me right for not taking my camera with me. I’ve got to get used to lugging it around. Those smart phone cameras just don’t cut it… c’est la vie.

Copyright: Louise Ralph