The small coastal town of Lennox Head, NSW, has come a long way since the Bundjalung people engaged in tribal warfare on the long, golden sands of Seven Mile Beach. In 1828, this paradisiacal place was established and named by Captain Henry John Rous after Charles Lennox, the Duke of Richmond. Today Lennox Head is known for its rugged headland (hence the name), legendary right-hand point break and laid-back lifestyle.
However despite its many attributes, Lennox Head is often overlooked, as it’s located roughly 20 minutes south of iconic Byron Bay and 10 minutes north of the much larger town of Ballina. I’m sure that’s just how the locals like it too, particularly as it’s also home to interesting history, pristine beaches, fluffy meadows, tea tree lakes and a town packed with good cafes and shops.
I’ve always been drawn to the town’s headland – Pat Morton Lookout – which is the only place in the Northern Rivers (where I live) that makes me feel like I’m far away, perhaps in Ireland or England. It’s also a wonderful spot to bring the kids and enjoy the views and at sunset the place feels magical.
Continue down the sweeping headland past tufts of longs grass and lilac flowers towards the edge, where you can watch the precipitous 65 metre cliff collide with a fury of turquoise sea. Step back, lay in the meadow and just think what a superb part of the world you’re in. Keep going and at the bottom of the hill you’ll encounter Boulders Beach, which is named after the boulder-sized stones that line its edge.
Just yesterday, I was on the next headland past Boulders Beach known as Skennars Head. Popular with surfers and fishermen, Skennars Head is a wild, exposed spot and in the 1920s two fisherman were swept off the rocks here and almost drowned. Subsequently, residents installed an iron peg at the end of the point so fishermen could secure themselves. It’s since rusted away but has been replaced several times.
Take time to explore this area, as it’s excellent. However there’s plenty more to do around Lennox Head, NSW.
Below Pat Morton Lookout is Lennox’s famed right-hand point break, which is rated by surfers as one of the best waves in Australia. It’s not for the feeble though, as the wave can get heavy and the locals know how to ride. For me, just sitting on the grassy hill and watching surfers carve up these big, long walls is a treat and you’ll find many doing the same.
There’s also plenty of good breaks between here and Ballina known as the ‘magic miles’. In fact Lennox Head was declared a National Surfing Reserve in 2007 and it’s the largest of its kind in Australia.
Situated at the northern end of town is Lake Ainsworth, a tea tree-stained dunal lake that’s named after early settler and sugar cane grower James Ainsworth. It’s a superb spot for a swim or, as I’ve often done, a canoe and it’s great for kids as it’s virtually always calm. The lake is considered by many to have healing properties. It’s also a favourite with stand-up paddle boarders and there’s picnic and BBQ facilities near the shore.
At the southern end of Seven Mile Beach, out the front of Rayner Lane, lies the remains of an old tea tree fence. This was built sometime in the early to mid 1900s by Fred Hutley to stop the sea spilling into the lake during tempestuous weather.
Back near the town centre is the Lennox Head bora ring, which is a sacred Aboriginal site containing rings of raised, hardened earth where Aboriginal boys were once initiated into manhood. Most bora rings are now destroyed or built over and the ones I’ve seen survived by tenacious action or mere chance. So it was a pleasure to encounter this one that’s protected under Aboriginal Heritage and by a sign that discourages visitors from walking over it.
Stop, look and imagine life at this very spot hundreds of years past.
North Creek Road
A curious road that runs around the back of Lennox Head, NSW (inland) and into the small suburb of Skennars Head, North Creek Road has some sights worth investigating. Here sections of dry stone walls remain, which were made by settlers who made good use of the volcanic basalt strewn across their property. The walls were strategically constructed about 150 years ago in the days of agrarian toil, when men were paid three shillings a chain.
North Creek Road also harbours a ginormous cactus plant. What an absolute beauty this plant is, which appears well cared for and almost out of control.
Other honourable mentions include the town itself, which is in the process of gentrification and has some quality shops and a monthly market. Then there’s the hang-gliders, which launch from Pat Morton Lookout and soar above this very pretty part of the world.
Have you been to Lennox Head? Can you recommend any other things to do in town?