Cape Byron (Byron Bay)

Cape Byron is the easternmost point in the mainland of Australia, in far northern New South Wales. The lighthouse was built in 1901, so is probably the last of the Victorian era lighthouses.

Byron Bay Light at Sunset

Cape Byron Lighthouse
Probably Arca-Swiss monorail 5×4″ camera, Linhof Angulon 90mm lens, Fujichrome 50.

I arrived at the lighthouse on the 12th of June 1987 at what would have been about 5pm.  The lighthouse keeper met me as I got out of the car and he was concerned that Head Office had not told him I was coming.  There was a system where the lighthouse keepers would put me up for the night and I would pay them my travel allowance.  I didn’t really care, I was happy to sleep in the car but this was not a conversation I could easily terminate and a magnificent sunset was dissipating in front of me.

Eventually I got to take the shot above.  There’s a bit of lens vignetting at the top not present at the bottom which means I must have raised the front standard or lowered the back to correct for perspective and either perhaps I could have stopped down a little more or the lens was a bit restricted in its image circle.  Can’t say it bothers me, though.

Byron Bay Light at Dawn 0

Cape Byron Lighthouse
6.15am, 13 June 1987, Arca-Swiss monorail 5×4″ camera, f16 30 seconds,
Schneider Super Angulon 65mm lens, Fujichrome 50.

The last thing I would do each night was to work out where I wanted to be early next morning. This is the lighthouse and the sea before dawn. Because the lighthouse is on top of the cliff, it does not need to be very high.

Cape Byron Lense

Subsidiary light.
probably Mamiya 645.

This is a subsidiary light inside the lighthouse. You can see that the other side of the prison is red.  It is behind a window in the lighthouse and is directed towards a specific set of rocks. This light only becomes visible to mariners when they get close to the rocks.

However if you look closely, you will see that the actual light is a kerosene lamp with a wick that has not been lit. This indicates that it is an historic light that is no longer used. The current light is probably the naked bulb on the window ledge at the far right.

Cape Byron House through Lense-Edit

Cape Byron Lighthouse
13 June 1987, Arca-Swiss monorail 5×4″ camera

Can you see anything wrong with this image?

Well, it’s upside down. It is not usual to mount lighthouse lightbulbs from the ceiling. The image that you see of the lighthouse cottage and beach beyond the prism has been inverted by the prism. Our eyes actually work in the same way though our brain corrects the image.


Cape Byron prism and view
Nikon FE, 16mm f3.5 fisheye

Here is an image from close by, this time from outside the prism and with a very different lens.

11 comments on “Cape Byron (Byron Bay)

  1. […] Cape Byron/ Byron Bay (NSW) […]


  2. […] Cape Byron is the easternmost point in the mainland of Australia, in far northern New South Wales. Tsource […]


  3. Love the intimate views, Murray. And the intricate details of the lights and fresnel lenses…


    • Murray Foote says:

      Thanks very much Alessandro. It was very fortuitous to become comfortable with large format photography and moonlight photography and then receive the rare privilege of this project.


  4. Christian says:

    These are really nice images. I wish your book about the lighthouses would still be available, unfortunately its not.


    • Murray Foote says:

      Thanks very much Christian. Sorry, I thought I’d replied.

      I don’t think there’s ever going to be another edition. It may not even be possible, seeing printing technology has changed. You can pick them up second hand but they are not cheap.


      • Christian says:

        I know, I found some second hand versions. Maybe I will get one of these. Since I like lighthouses, its probably the way to go. Meanwhile I will view your images here.


  5. […] Cape Byron tower and rocks from road. […]


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