Byron Shire

Byron Shire is a local government area located in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales, Australia. The shire is located adjacent to the Tasman Sea about 50 kilometres (31 mi) south of the Queensland border. The shire, administered from the town of Mullumbimby, covers an area of 566.7 square kilometres (218.8 sq mi), and has existed as a local government entity since 1906. The shire was named for Cape Byron, itself named by Captain Cook in May 1770 in honour of Vice-Admiral John Byron.

Byron Shire
New South Wales
Location within New South Wales
Coordinates28°33′S 153°30′E
 • Density55.684/km2 (144.220/sq mi)
Established7 March 1906
Area566.7 km2 (218.8 sq mi)
MayorSimon Richardson (Greens)
Council seatMullumbimby
RegionNorthern Rivers
State electorate(s)Ballina
Federal Division(s)Richmond
WebsiteByron Shire
LGAs around Byron Shire:
Tweed Tweed Tasman Sea
Lismore Byron Shire Tasman Sea
Lismore Ballina Tasman Sea

The Mayor of Byron Shire Council is Simon Richardson, a member of the Greens.


Byron Shire was created on 7 March 1906 under the Shires Act 1906 (NSW) as one of 134 local government areas in regional New South Wales. On 16 May 1906, a temporary council of five members was appointed to administer it, and elections were held in November. On 4 December, the council convened for the first time with William Baker as its inaugural president. William Baker was born in Great Stanmore, England. His cousin, Alfred Joseph Baker was the first person to score a goal in international football against Scotland in 1870.

On 1 July 1908, the Mullumbimby Municipality was created out of part of Byron. On 1 October 1980, the municipality and the shire were re-amalgamated by direction of the NSW Minister for Local Government.

Heritage listings

The Byron Shire has a number of heritage-listed sites, including:

Towns and localities


In the 2016 census, there were 31,556 people in the Byron local government area, of these 48.2 per cent were male and 51.8 per cent were female. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people made up 1.8 per cent of the population, which is lower than the national and averages of 2.8 per cent and lower than the NSW state average of 2.9 per cent. The median age of people in the Byron Shire area is 44 years (up from the 42 in the 2011 census) which was slightly higher than the national median of 38 years. Children aged 0 – 14 years made up 16.8 per cent of the population (down from 18.5 in the 2011 census) and people aged 65 years and over made up 16.9 per cent per cent of the population (up from 13.3 per cent). This change over the 5 year period shows evidence of an increasingly ageing population in the Byron Shire which is in line with predictions of the nations future increase in age.[4] The ABS records marital status in everyone over the age of 15, in Byron Shire 37.1 per cent of the population is married whilst 18.1 per cent are divorced or separated. Whilst there has been little change in Byron since the 2011 census, compared to the national percentages there is a large difference. Of the Australian population aged 15 and older 48.1 per cent of the population is married and 11.7 per cent of the population is divorced or separated.[5] This shows that Byron Shire has a large discrepancy in marital status compared to the rest of the nation.

Population in the Byron Shire area has increased since the 2011 census with a population growth of 8 percent, this is a significant increase compared to the population growth between the 2006 and 2011 census which was 1.54 per cent. Whilst the growth since 2011 is similar to the Australian population growth on 8.8 percent, the growth in previous years, negative 0.51 per cent in 2001 to 2006 and 1.54 per cent in 2006 to 2011, is vastly different to the total population growth. This data suggests that Byron Shire's population is growing at an increasing rate much like the majority of Australia.[5] Byron Shire has an average of 2.4 people per dwelling, the same as in the 2011 census, and on average there are 1.8 motor vehicles per dwelling. In terms of median income Byron Shire lags behind the Australian average, with the median personal income in Byron Shire being $596 and the Australian median income being $662. The gap is even larger in the median household income bracket grouping with the Australian national median being $1438 compared to Byron Shire's $1149.[6]

A large proportion of Byron Shire residents are born in Australia with 68.4 per cent of the population, 52 percent of the population have had both parents born in Australia, meaning less than half the population is first generation Australian or a migrant.[7] The second largest country of origin is England with only 5.1 per cent, this reflects the diversity of those that aren't Australian born. Religion in Byron Shire is substantially different compared to the Australian population as a whole, 46.3 per cent of the Byron Shire population listed 'No Religion' in their 2016 census compared with only 25.1 per cent Australian wide. A total of 12.5 per cent of Byron Shire identified as Catholic contrasted to 24.7 per cent of Australia's population. Byron Shire area had a significantly lower proportion of houses where two or more languages are spoken at 9 per cent compared to the national amount of 26.5. The vast majority of houses in Byron Shire, 81.1, speak only English at home whereas 68.5 of houses Australia wide only speak English at home.[8]

Selected historical census data for the Byron Shire local government area
Census year197619811986199119962001[9]2006[10]2011[11]2016[1]
PopulationEstimated residents on census night10,916 15,426 18,342 22,599 27,007 28,916 28,766 29,209 31,556
LGA rank in terms of size within New South Wales61st 58th
% of New South Wales population0.42% 0.42%
% of Australian population0.15% 0.14% 0.14% 0.13%
Cultural and language diversity
top responses
English29.7% 27.9%
Australian25.7% 24.1%
Irish11.2% 10.5%
Scottish8.2% 8.0%
German4.0% 3.8%
top responses
(other than English)
German1.0% 1.1% 1.1% 1.0%
French0.5% 0.5% 0.7% 0.7%
Hebrewn/a 0.4% 0.6% 0.6%
Italian0.3% 0.4% 0.5% 0.6%
Spanishn/c 0.3% 0.4% 0.6%
Religious affiliation
Religious affiliation,
top responses
No Religion24.4% 30.0% 37.6% 46.3%
Catholic18.0% 16.6% 15.9% 12.5%
Anglican19.0% 15.7% 14.0% 9.7%
Uniting Church5.9% 4.8% 3.9% 2.8%
Buddhismn/cn/c 3.6%n/c
Median weekly incomes
Personal incomeMedian weekly personal incomeA$383A$477A$596
% of Australian median income82.2% 82.7% 89.7%
Family incomeMedian weekly family incomeA$932A$1,053A$1389
% of Australian median income79.6% 71.1%77.6%
Household incomeMedian weekly household incomeA$738A$885A$1149
% of Australian median income71.9% 71.7%77.3%


The table below gives a picture of the estimated resident population as at the census night. Between 1911 and 1966, data was sourced from the New South Wales Statistical Register, covering the Byron Shire and Mullumbimby Municipality. Since 1976, data was sourced from the Australian Bureau of Statistics for the merged Byron Shire.

Estimated resident population
YearByron ShireMullumbimby


Current composition and election method

Byron Shire Council is composed of nine Councillors, including the Mayor, for a fixed four-year term of office. The Mayor is directly elected while the eight other Councillors are elected proportionally as one entire ward. The most recent election was held on 10 September 2016, and the makeup of the Council, including the Mayor, is as follows:[12][13]

  Independents and Unaligned 2
  The Greens 4
  Labor 2
  Our Sustainable Future 1
Total 9

The current Council, elected in 2016, in order of election, is:[13]

  Simon Richardson Greens Mayor[12]
  Michael Lyon Greens
  Paul Spooner Labor Party
  Jeannette Martin Greens
  Sarah Ndiaye Greens
  Basil Cameron Our Sustainable Future Deputy Mayor[14]
  Alan Hunter Independent
  Jan Hackett Labor Party
  Cate Coorey Independent


  1. Australian Bureau of Statistics (27 June 2017). "Byron (A)". 2016 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 7 July 2017.
  2. "3218.0 – Regional Population Growth, Australia, 2017-18". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 27 March 2019. Retrieved 27 March 2019. Estimated resident population (ERP) at 30 June 2018.
  3. "High Conservation Value Old Growth forest". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Office of Environment and Heritage. H01487. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  4. "Australian Demographic Challenges Australia's Demographic Challenges".
  5. "Divorce in Australia". Australian Institute of Family Studies.
  7. "Census 2016, Ancestry by Birthplace of Parents (LGA)".
  8. "2071.0 - Census of Population and Housing: Reflecting Australia - Stories from the Census, 2016". Australian bureau of Statistics.
  9. Australian Bureau of Statistics (9 March 2006). "Byron (A)". 2001 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 22 May 2016.
  10. Australian Bureau of Statistics (25 October 2007). "Byron (A)". 2006 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 22 May 2016.
  11. "2011 Census QuickStats: Byron (A)".
  12. "Byron Shire Council - Mayoral Election". Local Government Election 2016. New South Wales Electoral Commission. 17 September 2016. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  13. "Byron Shire Council: Summary of First Preference and Group Votes for each Candidate". Local Government Election 2016. New South Wales Electoral Commission. 17 September 2016. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  14. "Cr Basil Cameron Elected as Deputy Mayor". Byron Shire COuncil. 29 September 2016. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
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