The Protesters Falls / by Marek Charytonowicz

We have been in Byron Bay for almost two weeks now and have done nothing but the beach activities. We loved that but we thought we need a break and we rented a small Kia Rio  for a day to get out of town and see the area a bit more.

The ocean decided to take a break from people too - a massive swell, an aftermath of the Cyclone Winston that hit Fiji only several days before, brought large waves and turned the beach into a whirlpool of sea foam. It looked spectacular but unless you were a. good surfer, it was better to stay away.

So instead we packed a few things and headed to the other side of Cape Byron to see a few places that Rhys - our surfing teacher had recommended. We reached Broken Head and then Lennox Head - small seaside town with a few nice cafes and shops. Their beaches - facing directly east - were both a whirlpool of massive waves and a sea foam from the swell. Quite a view that makes you feel a bit of respect for the forces of nature.

After that we decided to head inland and check out one of the nearby waterfalls - the Protesters Falls - that one of the shopkeepers in Lennox Head recommended. It took around an hour of winding country roads. At one point we attempted to find a hidden waterfall that an ice cream parlour owner in Byron Bay suggested to us. He gave us a hand drawn map  that we tried to follow but after some time of following a gravel road we found only massive potholes and a concrete 3 meter dragon guarding a road cross. Yes, a dragon - beautifully sculpted from some sort of concrete or clay.

We turned around and went straight to Protesters Falls instead - deep into the forest. 

The falls bears its name to commemorate the first successful social protests held in 1979 to change the conservation laws to stop the extensive logging of the forest. These protests and their outcome turned out to be one of the most important moments in Australian nature conservation history.

The falls were a 10 minute walk through the dense forest that brought to mind Daintree Forest with its giant ferns, tall trees and rocky path weaving its way among the vegetation. From time to time you would hear aloud crack and a massive dried palm leaf would fall down on the ground tearing its way through the canopy. It felt like being Indiana Jones about to discover an ancient treasure.

The treasure turned out to be a stunning 30 meter thin waterfall falling into a small rocky pond surrounded by lush rainforest and rocks. There was only one more couple there, quietly enjoying the sounds of the forest. The pond and waterfall was cold and refreshing - but it's not a comfortable swimming place as the bottom of he shallow pool is very rocky with a few tree trunks so it's easy to slip and hit yourself. What we also didn't know is that it's actually not allowed to swim here because of the mosquito repellent and sunscreen dissolving in water and endangering the local population of Fleay's Barred Frogs down the stream. Too late a discovery.

We spend a couple of hours there, simply taking in the forest atmosphere, the water spray rainbows in the sun, the sounds and the solitude of this place. It was a refreshing change after busy Byron Bay and we needed it.

It was difficult to leave this hidden gem and go back. In Byron we went for a walk and it looked like the swell is finally going down so we were looking forward to two more days possibly on the beach. Waves or no waves - the ocean always looks so tempting!