A Guide To Exploring Australia's Northern Rivers

Brunswick Heads © Flickr / Graham Cook
Brunswick Heads © Flickr / Graham Cook
Photo of Alice Duffield
27 January 2018

The Northern Rivers is mostly famous for the beautiful Byron Bay, but there is SO much more to the region. It’s packed with beautiful rolling hills, crystal clear swimming spots, and loads of small towns filled with great foodie joints to visit.

Where to stay

There are some great accomodation options in the hustle and bustle (if you can call it that) of Byron Bay, if you want to be close to the touristy buzz and famous beaches. Try The Lord Byron or Cactus Rose for a Byron-esque vibe.

For something a little different, head hinterland and stay at Tri – the gorgeous self-contained apartments on high stilts look out over the lush hilly landscape. Being only a couple of minutes from Bangalow means easy access to great food and shopping options.

Kick off 2018 with a well deserved getaway! 🙌🏻☀️🌊 😴

A post shared by The Lord Byron Hotel (@thelordbyronhotel) on

Where to eat

For a true Northern Rivers style eating experience, the best places to try are Three Blue Ducks at The Farm, Harvest Newrybar and Woods at Bangalow. At these venues you’ll get quality locals serving quality food that are sourced locally and pack a flavourful punch.

Though don’t stop there, there are so many more options for some top-notch nosh and cocktails.

Things to do

There are so many things to do in this region and it’s not just about swimming (though we’ll get to that soon). For a bit of a local culture experience, try the Tweed River Regional Gallery. It’s unexpectedly charming and holds the fascinating Margaret Olley Art Centre, which is well worth the visit.

If shopping and local artisans are your thing, head to Newrybar Merchants – a mecca of decor, fashion and other artisanal goodies. Once you’re finished, head over to Harvest for a long lunch. While you’re in the shopping zone head to the unique fossicker’s paradise of Chinderah Bay antiques and Sea Faring Museum.

A walk up to the lighthouse at Byron Bay to watch the surfers is always a great way to start or finish the day. At many times of the year you’re likely to see whales and dolphins putting on a show, too.

Byron Lighthouse | © Flickr / Bernard Spragg. NZ

Where to swim

Some of the best surf beaches for swimming in the Northern Rivers region can be found at Jetty Beach in Coffs Harbour, Watagos at Byron Bay, and Fingal Bay Beach. These are just a few of the amazing beaches dotted up the North Coast. Don’t be fooled into thinking you can only find crystal clear waters on the Coast though.

For some different swimming options there are quite a few tea tree lakes in the region. But don’t be put off by the colour of the water. The lakes have been stained by the surrounding trees and it’s rumoured that it’s great for your skin.

Killen Falls is a short drive from Ballina and a bit of a trek, but worth the slippery walk (you’ve been warned). It’s a great waterhole to cool off on a summer day.

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