Byron Bay is a ‘new’ town in the scheme of things, not far from Ballina, but most of all is a tourist party town. The traveller will quickly note the average age is much lower than other Northern Rivers towns. The visitor will take this into account when visiting. Be prepared for noisy pubs, restaurants and people and the smell of incense from the hippy community.
The history of Europeans in Byron Bay began in 1770, when Captain James Cook found a safe anchorage and named Cape Byron after John Byron, who had circumnavigated the world and who was later the grandfather of English poet Lord Byron. In the 1880s, when Europeans settled more permanently, streets were named for other English writers and philosophers.
The first industry in Byron was cedar-getting, the "Red Centre" from the Australian red cedar, Toona Australi. The timber industry is the origin of the word "shoot" in many local names – Possum Shoot, Coopers Shoot and Skinners Shoot – where the timber-cutters would "shoot" the logs down the hills to be dragged to waiting ships
Byron Bay has a history of primary industrial production (dairy factory, abattoirs, whaling until 1963, fishing) and was a significant, but hazardous, sea port.
The longboarders arrived in the 1960s. This was the beginning of Byron Bay as a tourist destination, and by 1973, when the Aquarius Festival was held in Nimbin, its reputation as a hippy, happy, alternative town was established.
There is no museum in Byron Bay.