A brief history of Julian Rocks and Byron Bay
Aboriginal People have lived in the Cape Byron area for many thousands of years. The traditional landowners are Bundjalang people. A plaque at Cape Byron tells their story, of how a jealous husband threw a spear at a canoe carrying his wife and her lover. The canoe broke and sank, leaving only the prow and stern sticking out of the water, and thus creating what is now known as Julian Rocks.
James Cook discovered Cape Byron in 1770. He named it in honour
of Admiral John Byron, another British navigator, and grandfather
of Lord Byron. The naming of Byron Bay streets after literary
figures is just poetic licence. Cook noted Julian Rocks but did
not name them. On a chart from 1828 they were still unnamed. By
1883 they had been charted as Juan and Julia Islands.
Between the Pass and Middle Reef there is a string of rocky areas which provides interesting snorkeling, but this should only be attempted by strong and experienced ocean swimmers. There are also rocky areas between Clarks and Main Beach. Movements of sand within the shallow areas of the Bay are enormous, and exposed rock comes and goes, hulls fill with sand, so the quality of habitat for marine creatures in these areas changes over time
By far the best local spot for catching up with marine life is Julian Rocks. Commercial operators run several snorkeling and diving trips to Julian Rocks every day. Julian Rocks is rated as one of the best dive sites in Australia. Coral growth is limited but the abundance and diversity of larger animals is enormous. Leopard Sharks and Grey Nurses visit at different times of the year. Wobbegongs and turtles can almost always be seen. Julian Rocks is a Marine Reserve and the creatures are generally friendly.