Eleven studies of the site were undertaken between 1991 and 2013, so we are fortunate to have a lot of information about the flora and fauna and its history. We continue to add to this data. Many of our team have worked with this site for long periods of time.

Since acquiring the property we have carried on the excellent revegetation works, feral animal control, weed control and waterway maintenance that was undertaken by the previous owners. We continue to maintain and improve habitats. Some of our ongoing works and management practices include:

  • Co-ordinated pest control activities with National Parks and Wildlife service, predominantly targeting the control of foxes and cane toads.
  • Assisting Byron Bird Buddies, The Cape Byron Marine Parks Authority and Council Rangers with the management of endangered shorebird nesting areas in the Belongil Estuary.
  • Continue the ongoing care and rehabilitation of the sites sensitve ecosystems including the Littoral Rainforest.
  • Ongoing vegetation management and fauna monitoring.

Within the 50 acres developed as Elements of Byron the total building footprint is 3.8%. The developed area contained roads, dilapidated buildings, landscaped gardens with introduced palm species and man-made water bodies from previous tourist development. It was some of the least sensitive land within the Elements of Byron site and within the broader 230 acre land holding.

The key design driver was and is nature. The vision was to let nature, not buildings, dominate. The villas were painstakingly sited around the existing mature trees, with trunks and branches curved around walls and decks and buildings designed to accommodate specific limbs. All non-native vegetation was removed and 175,000 native plants and trees were added. This is in addition to the 200,000 native trees planted by the previous owner.

The overall strategy was to work with rather than against the site’s characteristics including climate, established ecosystems, existing infrastructure and hydrological conditions. Ultimately this fostered a design response which minimises energy and water consumption, utilises passive design principles including natural ventilation and solar orientation and touches the earth lightly.

A state of the art Energy Management System in each villa is coupled with an energy monitoring and display function. This allows guests to watch their energy usage in real time via the TV and iPad in each villa (for example if you turn on the hairdryer you can watch the figures on the screens rise). The Energy Management System controls power and temperature and room access and is responsive to human presence through motion detectors. So when a villa is inactive the system will shut down the power, lighting and air conditioning, saving around 40% of power consumption.

Environmental education is integral to the guest experience. Complimentary Guided Rainforest Walks and Bird, Beach and History Walks are held four times a week and at additional times by appointment. Guests can sample bush tucker as well as get up close and personal with the resident fauna. Staff receive training regarding the sensitivities of the site including the Belongil Estuary. Signage directs guests away from areas of greatest sensitivity. Subtle interpretive signage helps guests understand the different flora. iPads in each villa share information regarding the different ecologies and explain how these are interpreted through the villa interiors and wayfinding. The colour palettes, fabrics and design reflect the ecology in which each particular villa sits, connecting guests to the land.

Through Byron Bay Railroad Company, a not-for-profit heritage rail organisation, the owners of Elements of Byron have reinstated the local train service. This operates along three kilometres of track linking Elements of Byron, the Sunrise Beach community and the Byron Arts Estate with the Byron town centre. The service is for the general public as well as resort guests and other travellers. Byron Bay Railroad Company has repaired the tracks and a bridge and in addition has built two platforms, a train storage shed and restored the two car rail motor in its heritage colours. The project makes use of discarded infrastructure, revitalising both the rail corridor and the 1949 era heritage train.

We converted the train to become the world’s first solar train. The “world first” status has been confirmed by the Australian Solar Council, the Australia Institute and The Guinness Book of World Records, among others. More at

Accolades to date include

For Elements of Byron:

- Winner, Excellence in Retail Development, Urban Development Institute of Australia NSW Awards 2018

- Commendation, Excellence in Sustainability and Environmental Technology, Urban Development Institute of Australia NSW Awards 2018

- Winner, Award for Excellence for Development across Regional NSW and Canberra, Urban Development Institute of Australia NSW Awards 2017

- Sustainability Award, Australian Institute of Architects Qld Chapter 2017

- Commendation in the Commercial Category, Australian Institute of Architects Qld Chapter 2017

- Best Large Scale Corporate Retreat, Qantas Business Travel Awards 2017

- Best Hotel Design, Society of British Interior Designers International Design Awards 2016

- Best Hospitality Building, NSW Master Builders Association Awards 2016

For the Byron Solar Train:

- Engineering Excellence Award 2018 Engineers Association Australia National Awards

- Rail Sustainability Award 2018 Australasian Rail Association

- Good Design Award Gold Winner 2018 Good Design Awards, Product Design Category

- Good Design Award Winner 2018 Good Design Awards, Engineering Category

- Judges Honourable Mention 2018 Clean Energy Council Solar Design and Installation Awards