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Byron Bay © Flickr / Bernard Spragg. NZ
Byron Bay © Flickr / Bernard Spragg. NZ

The Best Towns to Visit in Australia's Northern Rivers

Picture of Alice Duffield
Updated: 16 November 2017

The New South Wales Northern Rivers region is one that often gets overlooked by tourists and Australian travellers alike. If you’re from Brissie and you’ve done the 12 hour drive down to Sydney, you will have no doubt dropped in on more than one of these sweet towns, which are full of character and natural beauty (with some brilliant restaurants to boot!) We’ve rounded up the best picks for your next road trip so you can see lush countryside as well as crystal clear waters.

Byron Bay

Obviously a no-brainer and one of the most famous seaside towns in Australia, you can’t miss Byron. It is the busiest part of this region and there’s so much to do.Although it can be pretty touristy on the weekends, it’s worth the visit. Meander through the village, enjoy plenty of great foodie options and take a dip in the stunning blue waters.

Nimbin

While the whole of the Northern Rivers region can be said to be a little on the hippy dippy side, Nimbin really takes the cake. Buildings covered in colourful paintings, stoners clothed in tie-dye and more hemp products in one place than you ever thought possible. It’s like stepping into the ’70s (or what I imagine the ’70s to have been like!), a town where little has evolved over the years, and it’s well worth the visit.

Kingscliff

Not like the aforementioned Nimbin by any stretch, Kingscliff has become a really popular beach town in the last few years. Known for its fantastic seafood restaurants and pristine white sands, Kingsliff is the perfect base for your summer holiday, as it’s close to the busy Gold Coast as well as Byron Bay, but away from crowds.

Mullumbimby

About a 20 minute drive north of Byron, Mullumbimby is a decent-sized town with lots to see and do. Set amongst some stunning green scenery and rolling hills, the Mullum region is perfect for those with alternative inclinations, as there are yoga studios and wellness spas galore.

Brunswick Heads

This is one of the most relaxed and sweet towns you’ll find along the east coast. Brunswick Heads is set on a stunning aqua river and there’s easy access to a beautiful beach, too. There are some fantastic food options and independent boutiques all over the town, perfect for a day spent slowly wandering from shop to shop. Better yet – hire a canoe and soak up the sun on the pristine waters.

Bangalow

This quaint little country town is about 20 minutes inland from Byron Bay and filled with gorgeous people, cafes, boutiques and country charm. If you’re visiting on the weekend, be sure to have brekky at Woods, followed by a stroll through the farmers’ markets.