A Whale of a Time in Byron

We started our trip on tuesday at Sydney Airport where we all met, boarded our plane and headed to Arakwal Country – Byron Bay.  

After arriving at Ballina, we picked up our wheels and headed to our accommodation. We checked in and settled into the new digs before heading out to dinner. The local Services Club was our choice for the first night and the food did not disappoint! 

Wednesday morning had us up bright and early for breakfast before heading back to Ballina for our whale watching cruise which started on the Richmond River. This River is one of the dominant rivers on the New South Wales North Coast. It flows for 170 kilometres from the New South Wales/Queensland border.   

We got settled in the boat for our cruise and as soon as we headed out to sea, we were immediately impressed when we saw some whales. Wow! What spectacular creatures these mammals are. We must have seen dozens of whales that morning. 

Gabbi our marine biologist and tour guide talked us through some amazing facts about the Humpback Whales that travelled up and down the East Coast of Australia.  

Whale Facts

 Humpback whales weighs around 40 tonnes? Their hearts alone weighs about 220kg!  

– The average Humpback has a life expectancy of 80-100+ years, which is over quadruple what it was in the 1950s. 

 - Thanks to modern whaling laws, there are up to 40,000 Humpbacks traveling up and down the east coast of Australia every migration season. This is up from around 200 back in the 50’s!  

 – Female Humpbacks with calves hug the coastline more to stay in shallows to avoid the fights of the males.

 – Baby Humpbacks are born weighing around 1-2 tonnes and are 4-5 meters in length.  

– In the summer months, before the Humpbacks head back south to the Arctic waters, they eat around 1.5 tonne of krill a day. This is so they can fatten themselves up for the migration as they don’t eat during this time.  

– Only the male Humpbacks sing.

While we were on whale watching cruise, we also got to see some common dolphins, as well as some bottle nosed dolphins that inhabit the northeastern coastline around Ballina and Byron Bay.  

After our cruise we had worked up such an appetite we headed to Ballina RSL Club for a delicious lunch. After lunch we had a drive around Ballina and checked out the cute little Lighthouse before heading back to Byron Bay for the evening. 

Thursday was a day around Byron. We started at the Byron Bay Farmers Market where there was lots of fresh and home-grown produce. Next, we headed to the famous Cape Byron Lighthouse or, as we called it, the Byron Bay Lighthouse. Here we stood on the most eastern tip of Australia and got to again, watch whales head north on their migration, along with more dolphins.  

We then headed to the shops for a snack, a walk along the beach, and managed to do some more shopping.  

Friday we decided to head along the Hinterland Highway to Nightcap National Park, home of the spectacular Minyon Falls. This is located within the traditional lands of the Widjabul clan of the Bundjalung nation. This area is of major significance to the local aboriginal people and is respected for its rich cultural heritage value. 

From there we headed to the Crystal Castle to get our Zen on. We immersed ourselves among some of the largest crystals in the world. We ate at the vegetarian cafe, soaked up the healing sounds of the temple, and finished our day with a trip to the Macadamia Castle to sample some delicious home-made ice creams and macadamias.  

Friday night saw us celebrating one of our fellow travellers birthdays with a yummy dinner and cake. We finished the night off with songs and laughter. 

Unfortunately, all amazing trips have to come to an end, but not before 1 last stop. To the Byron Bay Cacao Factory of course. We were spoilt with a hot chocolate and delighting out tastebuds with some scrumptious chocolate delights.  

We made our way to the airport and headed for home. After landing back in Gadigal country, we bid farewell to our new friends. We hope to meet again for another amazing adventure soon.  

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