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Whale tales by Paul Chai

Follow Paul's epic journey as he travels along the NSW coastline this whale migration season.

Cape crusader

Posted by: Paul Chai | 22 October 2012 | 0 comments
Cape Byron State Conservation Area walking track

Walking around the Cape Byron State Conservation Area offers whale-watching, people-watching and different types of terrain from beach and palms to rainforest and rocky coast, not bad for less than four kilometres.

My walk starts off with a visit to some of the amazing National Parks accommodation on offer at Byron, one of the very few places you can actually stay right on the beach up here. There are four places to stay but the pick of the bunch has to be Partridge Cottage which allows you to chill out right on the beach as well as indulge in a little time travel. This fifties shack has been renovated and decorated with the obsessive attention of a film set, from the fantastically retro kitchen to the aged surfboard hanging overhead on the back porch. In the backyard sits the quaint Geoff’s Shed which can sleep an additional couple of (close) friends – and which was once exactly what the name suggests (and is decorated with his old tools) — though the view is so beautiful I’m surprised he didn’t saw his hand off.

Trail blazing

From Partridge Cottage, or any of the other abodes, you take the Cape Byron track that snakes around the Cape Byron State Conservation Area. It’s a solid 3.7 kilometre ramble which will take a couple of hours with stops and diversions such as the loop of Bangalow palms just off Watego beach, the cute (and occasionally fully submerged) Little Watego beach, catching a glance at the official easternmost point of the Australian mainland (yes, there’s a sign) and swift change of scenery to coastal rainforest on the return trip.

Waving goodbye

Just before making my way up to the lighthouse for the second time in as many days, I pause and look out to sea just in time to catch a humpback enthusiastically fin slapping off in the distance. Given the almost comical volume of whale sightings I’ve had over the past couple of days it feels like he is just signaling to let me know the oceans is still teeming with humpbacks (or perhaps waving me off), while a small pod of dolphins surfs waves a bit closer to the shore. There are creatures of a different kind circling the lighthouse today, the dark wings of hanglider dipping often surprisingly close to the people wandering the track, by which time I have earned a beer in the Beach Hotel by my reckoning where I half expect to see a whale flapping about just beyond the waves.

Cape Byron State Conservation Area accommodation

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    • NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service
    • NSW