The Northern Rivers of New South Wales, Australia is home to a diverse range of towns and regions known for their stunning natural environment, thriving arts and culture, friendly locals and exciting tourist attractions
Byron Bay has long captured the hearts of travellers from around the globe and for many the love affair lasts a lifetime. From world-renowned beaches to lush hinterland surrounds, Byron offers something for just about everyone with an eclectic and laid-back mix of alternative, surfie and trendy culture.
Originally known as Cavenbah or ‘meeting place’ by the original Bundjalung people of the area, Byron continues to live up to its traditional heritage with people flocking from everywhere to shop, surf, scuba dive and, of course, walk the famous Cape Byron Lighthouse track. Located at Australia’s easterly most point, this walk offers a stunning vista of migrating whales as well as resident dolphins and leopard sharks.
Known to many as the Rainbow region, Byron Bay is home to a thriving local community of musicians and artists and hosts a variety of colourful markets and festivals. The beaches are also popular for romance, with the Byron Bay Surf club being a favourite wedding venue.
While many come for rest and relaxation, there is also a lively nightlife to be enjoyed as the streets come to life with local and international musicians and street performances. Combined with the many great restaurants, cafes, clubs and pubs, there’s always something to do on those long summer nights.
More than a holiday destination, Byron Bay offers a unique lifestyle that has many coming back for more. Visitors can find accommodation to suit every taste and budget any time of year and no matter how many visits, there’s always more to explore.
Unspoilt by development, “Bruns” retains its laid back ambience and its traditional seaside village atmosphere. Brunswick Heads has a great range of dining options from simple fish’n‘chips to alfresco and fine dining. The fishing co-op at the boat harbour is the port of much of the fresh seafood that is served by the local restaurants and cafes. Nestled amongst the eateries are eclectic boutiques, home wares and collectibles shops. Find the unlikely and unusual, or for vintage inspired or rare collectables, follow the Second Hand Vintage Trail through the village and beyond.
The river runs beside the town, and you can enjoy a walk along the banks watching the pelicans and seagulls; fish from the bridge or a tinny; or stand up paddle board or kayak up one of the river arms. The kids can enjoy themselves in the river or at Torakina Beach, a safe family haven only metres from the surf beach. The Brunswick Heads Nature Reserve sits between the north arm of the river and the surf beaches of the Pacific Ocean.
Brunswick Heads hosts a variety of eco-friendly family oriented community events such as The Fish & Chip Festival and McGregor’s Family Carnival concluding with The Woodchop Carnival in January, the Mullum2Bruns Paddle in May, Old & Gold Festival on the June long weekend, and a Photographic Competition from July to September.
Located only 15 minutes north of Byron Bay, Brunswick Heads is perfect for a family holiday by the sea, a place to relax and just enjoy the Simple Pleasures of life.
The quaint village of Bangalow sits nestled amongst rolling green hills of picturesque farmland. Modern life is combined with tradition in this Federation village, which makes for an elegant presence. Surrounded by the character and charm of buildings of a bygone era, the village is the ideal setting for an unhurried morning brunch in a cosy café or a picnic in the park before you peruse the art galleries, boutiques and antique stores.
Take a leisurely sojourn on a Sunday morning to the popular and colourful Community Markets where local produce, clothing, and arts and craft are easily accessible. The markets are frequented by locals and tourists alike, and the shady Camphor Laurel trees under which the stalls are set up enable one to meander in an unhurried state of amazement and wonder at what you will encounter next. Be stimulated by sight, sound and smell.
The inaugural Billie Cart Derby was launched as a celebration of the Pacific Highway’s diversion from the main street, and was such a success that it has become a mainstay on the annual events calendar. Held in May every year, it is a vibrant and fun filled family event where the main street becomes a race track and billy carts of all shapes and sizes compete in this not-for-profit community event.
Festive atmosphere prevails each August when the annual Bangalow Music Festival is held, combining beautiful food with the music of world class musicians. The museum at ‘Heritage House’ contains information about the locality along with a comprehensive collection of historical articles.
Bangalow is very much a close knit community, where visitors are welcomed as friends.
There are numerous riverlets and many shore based fishing spots as the Richmond River widens and flows through the township of Ballina to the rock walls and out to sea. Ballina is located about a 30 minute drive south of Byron Bay. The Ballina Byron Gateway Airport is located here and regular jet services are provided to Sydney and Melbourne.
The Ballina area was first home to the wider Bundjalung Nation and was a meeting place for the Bundjalung people. The Bundjalung people in the area were treated to a smorgasbord of seafood and bush tucker. The remnants of elaborate fish traps still exist on North Creek. These traps consisted of rock walls surrounding small pools, fish would become trapped as the tide began to ebb.
Because of its geographical position it was only natural that Ballina was one of the first places settled by white man. The Ballina Naval & Maritime Museum provides a detailed insight into the history of the area. All major transport was carried out by ship, with the Richmond River providing a natural transport link to settlements further inland and a means of transporting red cedar downstream to be shipped around the globe. When the supply of timber began to dwindle dairy farming became the next big industry in the area. Today Ballina is a modern regional town offering all types of accommodation, shopping and eateries, with a river that is a natural magnet for visitors and locals. At Fawcett Park, in the town centre, you can enjoy al fresco dining with river vistas while the kids play nearby. The beaches of Ballina are magnificent surfing beaches. Lighthouse Beach and Shelley Beach are easily accessed. Entry to South Ballina Beach is accessed via the car ferry and offers outstanding surfing and beach fishing with 4WD access.
Take a step into nature’s wonderland and enjoy coastal treasures, lush hinterland and the river life of the Clarence region, just 1.5 hours south of Byron Bay.
The popular resort town of Yamba, known for its laidback beach lifestyle, makes a great holiday for young and old. Try out your board at Angourie’s surfing reserve, historical walks, boutique shopping and local events.
The Clarence is a food lover’s paradise; local produce features strongly in many restaurants and cafés. The Clarence River, running through the heart of the region, is ideal for sailing and cruising with broad deep expanses of water and 100 chartered islands to explore from Yamba at the mouth of the river to Grafton in the country. Excellent facilities line this beautiful river which was once the main trading route for timber getters and sugar cane farmers.
Superb National Parks protect the longest undeveloped coastline in NSW with endless stretches of golden beaches, perfect for swimming, surfing, snorkelling and fishing.
Explore the Solitary Islands Marine Park, accessed from Sandon and Wooli with 10,000 hectares of coral reef and an amazing diversity of marine life.