Captain Cook lookout and picnic area

Cape Byron State Conservation Area

Overview

Family-friendly Captain Cook lookout and picnic area offers scenic coastal views, golden beaches and walking options in the beautiful Cape Byron State Conservation Area.

Type
Lookouts
Where
Cape Byron State Conservation Area
Accessibility
Medium
Entry fees

$4 per hour (pay and display machine). Or you can buy an NPWS Annual Pass.

What to
bring
Drinking water, hat, sunscreen
Please note
Remember to take your binoculars if you want to go birdwatching or  whale watching

Captain Cook lookout and picnic area in Cape Byron State Conservation Area provides parking and access to one of Australia's most popular beaches. Under the shadow of the iconic Cape Byron Lighthouse, you can step out on the popular Cape Byron walking track, an invigorating 3.7km walk taking in coastal cliffs, rainforest and spectacular beaches. 

With loads of parking and easy access to the beach, it’s a family-friendly picnic spot with something for everyone. Head down for a refreshing swim in the crystal clear waters before enjoying a picnic lunch.

Enjoy the reviving coastal breezes and natural beauty of the surrounding headlands, rainforest and beaches. Keep your eyes peeled for dolphins frolicking in the waves and be sure to pack your binoculars if you’re visiting during whale watching season.

For directions, safety and practical information, see visitor info

Current alerts in this area

There are no current alerts in this area.

Local alerts

For the latest updates on fires, closures and other alerts in this area, see https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/lookouts/captain-cook-lookout-and-picnic-area/local-alerts

Park info

  • in Cape Byron State Conservation Area in the North Coast region
    • Cape Byron State Conservation Area is open all hours, but may have to close at times due to poor weather or fire danger.
    • Cape Byron Lighthouse precinct is open 8am to sunset.
    • The Maritime Museum in the former Lighthouse Keeper’s office at the base of the lighthouse is open 10am to 4pm daily.
    • Opening before 8am for events or disabled access can be arranged by prior notice – contact NPWS Byron Bay office during business hours 02 6639 8300.
  • Park entry fees:

    Cape Byron Lighthouse precinct and Information Centre: $8 per vehicle per hour/$4 per hour motorcycles. Maximum 1 hour per vehicle per calendar day, including all NPWS annual passholders.

    Captain Cook lookout, Cosy Corner, and The Pass: $4 per vehicle/motorcycle per hour. Coin-operated and credit card payment available.

    Coach entry: $26 per coach up to 30 seats; $50 per coach 31 to 43 seats; $83 per coach 44 seats and over.

    Buy a pass (https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/visit-a-park/parks/cape-byron-state-conservation-area/visitor-info#Fees-and-passes).
  • More
See more visitor info

Visitor info

All the practical information you need to know about the Captain Cook lookout and picnic area.

Getting there and parking

Get driving directions

Get directions

    On entering Cape Byron State Conservation Area:

    • Follow Lawson Street east from Byron Bay until it becomes Lighthouse Road

    Park entry points

    Road quality

    • Sealed roads

    Vehicle access

    • 2WD vehicles

    Weather restrictions

    • All weather

    Parking

    Parking is available at this location, including some designated disabled spots – entry fees apply. It can be a busy place, so parking might be limited.

    Best times to visit

    There are lots of great things waiting for you in Cape Byron State Conservation Area. Here are some of the highlights.

    Spring

    With the weather being a bit cooler, it's the perfect time of year for walking, barbecues and picnics on the beach.

    Summer

    Summer holidays beckon you – enjoy swimming, snorkelling, surfing, building sandcastles, or relaxing in the shade.

    Winter

    Cape Byron is a great spot to watch for whales on their annual migration - remember to take binoculars.

    Weather, temperature and rainfall

    Summer temperature

    Average

    22°C and 27°C

    Highest recorded

    35.1°C

    Winter temperature

    Average

    15°C and 21°C

    Lowest recorded

    3.3°C

    Rainfall

    Wettest month

    March

    Driest month

    September

    The area’s highest recorded rainfall in one day

    350.4mm

    Facilities

    Toilets

    • Flush toilets

    Picnic tables

    Carpark

    Drinking water

    Maps and downloads

    Safety messages

    Beach safety

    Beaches in this park are not patrolled, and can sometimes have strong rips and currents. These beach safety tips will help you and your family stay safe in the water.

    Mobile safety

    Dial Triple Zero (000) in an emergency. Download the Emergency + app before you visit, it helps emergency services locate you using your smartphone's GPS. Please note there is limited mobile phone reception in this park and you’ll need mobile reception to call Triple Zero (000).

    Accessibility

    Disability access level - medium

    • Assistance may be required to access this area

    Permitted

    Fishing

    A current NSW recreational fishing licence is required when fishing in all waters.

    Prohibited

    Pets

    Pets and domestic animals (other than certified assistance animals) are not permitted. Find out which regional parks allow dog walking and see the pets in parks policy for more information.

    Smoking

    NSW national parks are no smoking areas.

    Visitor centre

    Nearby towns

    Byron Bay (6 km)

    Byron Bay is Australia's easternmost town and 'style capital' of the North Coast. It's a place of outstanding natural beauty, set against lush volcanic hills.

    www.visitnsw.com

    Kempsey (28 km)

    Kempsey is a historic river town close to national parks and majestic beaches. Kempsey is a convenient place for an overnight stop for anyone driving between Sydney and the North Coast.

    www.visitnsw.com

    South West Rocks (13 km)

    South West Rocks is a sleepy coastal retreat at its barefoot best. It's an oceanfront holiday town on north-facing Trial Bay.

    www.visitnsw.com

    Learn more

    Captain Cook lookout and picnic area is in Cape Byron State Conservation Area. Here are just some of the reasons why this park is special:

    Cape Byron Lighthouse

    Cape Byron Lighthouse, Cape Byron State Conservation Area. Photo: John Spencer

    Perched high above Byron Bay's glorious coastline, historic Cape Byron lighthouse was constructed on this rugged headland in 1901. Its landmark 22m high white tower houses the light that still illuminates the bay of an evening. To find out more about the lighthouse take a tour with an expert guide and be sure to check out the Maritime Museum. In days gone by, lighthouse keepers were responsible for igniting the lighthouse's light of an evening. The keepers have long been replaced by automated light systems; however the Victorian Georgian style cottages in which they lived remain as heritage listed buildings. Today they operate as holiday accommodation, having been carefully restored to offer modern convenience while retaining their historical charm and an insight into the life of a lighthouse keeper.

    • Walgun walk and cultural experience Walgun walk and cultural experience is a school excursion in Cape Byron State Conservation Area focusing on Stage 5 History (Years 9-10). Join traditional custodians to learn about Arakwal Bundjalung People’s ongoing connection to Country.
    • Walgun walk and cultural experience Walgun walk and cultural experience is a school excursion in Cape Byron State Conservation Area focusing on Stage 6 Aboriginal Studies, Community Study (Years 11-12). Join traditional custodians to learn about Arakwal Bundjalung People's ongoing connection to Country.

    Keepers of Country

    The Pass, Cape Byron State  Conservation Area. Photo: John Spencer

    Walgun, as Cape Byron is known by its traditional custodians, maintains spiritual, cultural and historical importance for the Bundjalung of Byron Bay (Arakwal) Aboriginal People. The pipi midden (shell mound) at The Pass is one of the largest and oldest in far north NSW.

    • Dolphin Dreaming Dolphin Dreaming is an Early Stage 1 (Kindergarten) school excursion in Cape Byron State Conservation Area, focusing on HSIE. Through story, dance and creative expression, Arakwal Aboriginal guides present the life and culture of Byron Bay's Aboriginal people.
    • Dolphin Dreaming Dolphin Dreaming is a Stage 1 (Years 1-2) school excursion in Cape Byron State Conservation Area, focusing on HSIE. Through story, dance and creative expression, Arakwal Aboriginal guides present the life and culture of Byron Bay's Aboriginal people.
    • Dolphin Dreaming Dolphin Dreaming is a Stage 2 (Years 3-4) school excursion in Cape Byron State Conservation Area, focusing on HSIE Geography outcomes. Through story, dance and creative expression, Arakwal Aboriginal guides present the life and culture of Byron Bay's Aboriginal people.
    • Dolphin Dreaming Dolphin Dreaming is a Stage 3 (Years 5-6) school excursion in Cape Byron State Conservation Area, focusing on HSIE Geography outcomes. Through story, dance and creative expression, Arakwal Aboriginal guides present the life and culture of Byron Bay's Aboriginal people.
    • Palm Valley Palm Valley, or ‘The Pass,’ offers well-equipped picnic areas right by the beach, plus a popular café, several walking tracks, and access to the Fishermans lookout.
    • Walgun walk and cultural experience Walgun walk and cultural experience is a school excursion in Cape Byron State Conservation Area focusing on Stage 5 History (Years 9-10). Join traditional custodians to learn about Arakwal Bundjalung People’s ongoing connection to Country.
    • Walgun walk and cultural experience Walgun walk and cultural experience is a school excursion in Cape Byron State Conservation Area focusing on Stage 6 Aboriginal Studies, Community Study (Years 11-12). Join traditional custodians to learn about Arakwal Bundjalung People's ongoing connection to Country.
    Show more

    View from the top

    Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae). Photo: Wayne G Reynolds

    Cape Byron State Conservation Area is part of a significant north-to-south regional corridor for migratory animals, including the fruit dove and cuckoo shrike. Locals you might be lucky enough to spot while touring the area include threatened wallabies and sea eagles. A peaceful walk through the area’s serene littoral rainforest, with plant life; such as laurel trees, white lace flowers and basket ferns, to admire along the way, is sure to further enrich your experience of the Cape Byron area.

    • Cape Byron walking track Enjoy spectacular coastal views along the Cape Byron walking track that takes you on a hike through rainforest, beach, grassland and clifftops to the lighthouse.
    • Wategos Beach Located just north west of Cape Byron and the lighthouse, Wategos Beach is one of Byron’s best places to picnic, paddle and play.
    • Whale secrets Whale secrets is a school excursion in Cape Byron State Conservation Area for Early Stage 1 (Kindergarten) students focusing on HSIE. Discover the secrets of whales through a playful mix of drama, games, story and ocean discovery.
    • Whale Secrets Whale secrets is a school excursion in Cape Byron State Conservation Area for Stage 1 (Years 1-2) students focusing on Science and Technology. Discover the secrets of whales through a playful mix of drama, games, story and ocean discovery.

    Plants and animals you may see

    Animals

    • Australian pelican. Photo: Rob Cleary

      Australian pelican (Pelecanus conspicillatus)

      The curious pelican is Australia’s largest flying bird and has the longest bill of any bird in the world. These Australian birds are found throughout Australian waterways and the pelican uses its throat pouch to trawl for fish. Pelicans breed all year round, congregating in large colonies on secluded beaches and islands.

    • Australian brush turkey, Dorrigo National Park. Photo: Rob Cleary

      Australian brush turkey (Alectura lathami)

      The Australian brush turkey, also known as bush or scrub turkey, can be found in rainforests along eastern NSW. With a striking red head, blue-black plumage and booming call, these distinctive Australian birds are easy to spot while bird watching in several NSW national parks.

    • Superb fairy wren. Photo: Ingo Oeland

      Superb fairy wren (Malurus cyaneus)

      The striking blue and black plumage of the adult male superb fairy wren makes for colourful bird watching across south-eastern Australia. The sociable superb fairy wrens, or blue wrens, are Australian birds living in groups consisting of a dominant male, mouse-brown female ‘jenny wrens’ and several tawny-brown juveniles.

    Plants

    • Wonga Wonga vine. Photo: Barry Collier

      Wonga wonga vine (Pandorea pandorana)

      The wonga wonga vine is a widespread vigorous climber usually found along eastern Australia. A variation of the plant occurs in the central desert, where it resembles a sprawling shrub. One of the more common Australian native plants, the wonga wonga vine produces bell-shaped white or yellow flowers in the spring, followed by a large oblong-shaped seed pod.

    • Cabbage tree palm in Dalrymple-Hay Nature Reserve. Photo: John Spencer/OEH

      Cabbage palm (Livistona australis)

      With glossy green leaves spanning 3-4m in length and a trunk reaching a height of up to 30m, the cabbage tree palm, or fan palm, is one of the tallest Australian native plants. Thriving in rainforest margins along the east coast of NSW, in summer this giant palm produces striking spikes of cream flowers which resemble cabbages.

    Environments in this park

    Education resources (1)

    School excursions (12)

    Captain Cook lookout and picnic area, Cape Byron State Conservation Area. Photo: John Spencer