what makes a perfect day? ... a gentle breeze on a sparkling river? ... a feast of the freshest seafood? ...the exhilaration of hang-gliding over a breathtaking coastline?
... is it rejuvenating body and soul in a day spa or simply relaxing in a hammock with a good book?
The following trails can get you started on your quest for the ultimate Northern Rivers holiday...
Make your own itinerary or just get off the beaten track and explore.
The region’s friendly visitor centres can provide detailed maps and a wealth of local knowledge.
the treasure trail
Breakfast in the tranquility of a Murwillumbah county café... Its is a great way to start the day. Try a little shopping in Murwillumbah’s classic country main street and take in the works of leading local and national artists in the regional gallery. After breakfast, head off through Clothiers Creek to Bogangar and explore the coast road through to Pottsville and inland via Wooyung to Mooball with its cow pattern mitf and historic pub.
Heading back along the Burringbar Range, drop in to Stokers Siding to explore ceramics, glass, paintings, jewellery and crafts by local artists.
From Stokers Siding, follow the road to Uki. Uki has a great café, a healing centre, the classic Mt Warning Hotel and a famous market.
Take the Mount Warning turn-off from the Murwillumbah road and stretch your legs on the beautiful Lyrebird Track. Just off the carpark at the base of the mountain, this gentle walk winds some 200 metres through a forest of towering palms to a rainforest viewing platform. In Murwillumbah, the World Heritage Rainforest Centre is well worth a visit.
After a tough day’s treasure hunting, the riverfront Tumblegum Pub, just up the road, is a terrific spot to relax and unwind.
body & soul - the restoration trail
Dawn at the Byron Lighthouse is definitely one for life’s “must-do” list. The cliff-top walking track winds its way through bushland with panoramic views of the ocean and the distant mountains. The walk up from Wategos Beach takes about half an hour.
The region is something of a mecca for yoga students and throughout the region you’ll find practitioners of many disciplines, from Hatha, Aqua and Inga to yogalates.
There are morning or evening classes, yoga on the beach, in retreats or intensives. Local papers have a good range of listings or you can call the visitors centre for information.
After a walk and some intense meditation, you’ve earned breakfast at one of Byron’s many gourmet cafés. For a hearty brecky on the run, try one of the organic fruit and vegetable or specialty food stores – there’s a huge a range of healthy (and yummy) treats.
And don’t forget Byron’s Farmers Market every Thursday morning.
time for some serious shopping...
Byron has become famous for its shopping, with everything from handcrafted furniture to designer fashion and accoutrements. The Byron Arts and Industry Estate is renowned for its innovative, creative and entrepreneurial spirit. From humble beginnings, local businesses have earned international recognition.
Within the Estate, there are retail outlets for health food, organic oils, hand-crafted leather goods, children’s clothing, body products and fine furnishings.
There are renowned artisans and some amazing art spaces. If your inner being needs some R&R, there are scores of short courses, classes and workshops covering almost every conceivable area of intellectual or spiritual enquiry or endeavour. There are art workshops and regular drum, dance and cooking classes that nourish both body and soul — and are a lot of fun!
If you’re into new age and alternative lifestyles and philosophies, Byron is the place for you. You’ll find a huge range of books, videos, tapes and CDs on all things physical and metaphysical, from biodynamics to Buddhism, tantra to tarot, tai chi to chi tea.
Elevate your physical being with a little balloning, skydiving or gliding.
Or coming down to earth with the perfect end to an extraordinary day is in one of the Tweed’s vibrant clubs or restaurants.
Nightlife in the Tweed has everything from international cabaret acts, first-class sporting and recreational clubs to fine dining and the latest in gaming technology.
Visit the rainforest giants of the Border Ranges. The 64km Tweed Range Scenic Drive (easy vehicle access) skirts the rim of the ancient Mount Warning Caldera and includes several lookouts with breathtaking views over the Tweed Valley.
You can begin the drive from Murwillumbah or Kyogle, but for a fullday adventure, start from Murwillumbah and visit the amazing Lions Loop – where trains spiral up the mountain – on your way to Kyogle.
Saddle up on a cattle property and explore on horseback. Catch your supper in well-stocked Clarrie Hall Dam. Escape to Crystal Creek and wake each day to the call of the whipbirds, the gentle murmur of a sylvan stream and a gourmet breakfast on your balcony. If you prefer nature up close, there are excellent camping facilities in the Border Ranges.
the coastal cruise
Exploring the Tweed-Byron coastline is another great day’s touring. There are rugged headlands, idyllic picnic spots, ledgendary fishing, a string of funky coastal villages, and no end of exciting things to see and do.
Start the day with a stroll through the rainforest to Fingal Lighthouse. Watch the whales travel past during their annual migration (May to June).
Take the Coast Road to Kingscliff and enjoy a scrumptious breakfast in one of the many fabulous cafés. Join the dolphins for a surf or slap on sun screen and bask on the pandanus fringed sands of Cabarita. Continuing along the Coast Road to Wooyung, there are dozens of coastal treasures just waiting to be discovered. Each village has its own fishing spots or unspoiled beach and there are campsites, caravan parks, apartments and resorts should you decide to stay a while. Surfers should check out Duranbah Beach, Norries Headland and Cabarita. For anglers, the beaches and estuaries of Hastings Point are excellent for tailor, whiting, bream, flathead and mud crab.
If you’ve only managed to feed the fish today, the Brunswick Fishermans Co-op at Brunswick heads will look after you.
Back on the Highway, take the Mullumbimby turn-off to explore this popular town and its colourful shopping centre. From Mullum, take the back road towards Goonengerry and visit the Crystal Castle. Amid the spectacular crystal displays, you can pamper yourself with a massage, explore the fascinating bookshop, have a tarot reading or simply enjoy afternoon tea with a delightful view over the valley.
The aptly named Coolamon Scenic Drive follows the ridgeline back to the Highway and one of the region’s most spectacular lookouts with panoramic views over Byron.
Turn right at the highway to visit the heritage town of Bangalow. This beautiful village has excellent cafés, galleries, antique, designer homeware and clothing stores and an amazing array of local gourmet produce.
From Bangalow, take the back road through the rolling hills to Byron and relax with a cool
refreshment one of the towns famous pubs or clubs.
the discovery trail
Discover great food, wine, books and galleries and, perhaps, a little of yourself...
Start the day at secluded South Ballina Beach, a vast and unspoilt stretch of golden sand where you can fish, walk, meditate or 4WD. From South Ballina, head up river to Wardell and Broadwater for breakfast or morning tea. Ostas Tea House at Broadwater has some of the best scones and jam you’ll ever taste!
Loop back along Wardell Road (watch for koalas) and follow the signs to Victoria Park Nature Reserve. Stroll the boardwalk among the rainforest giants and keep an eye open for pademelons. Nearby Alstonville is one of the region’s historic treasures with many fine heritage buildings and galleries.
On to Lismore and lunch in one of the many cafés and restaurants that thrive in this vibrant university city. The Regional Gallery has a unique collection of photographs that document the 1973 Nimbin Aquarius Festival. The gallery’s collection includes such significant Australian artists as Margaret Olley, Lloyd Rees and Albert Namatjira.
Local stores offer an amazing and eclectic selection of fashion, books, beautiful gifts and cards and all things spiritual. A blend of traditional and alternative cultures, Lismore is the fascinating place to explore your hidden talents. Take a course in reflexology, pottery, painting or tarot — there is plenty to chose from.
With lively clubs, restaurants and other pubs, Lismore’s nightlife has something for everyone.
Accommodation is equally diverse – with everything from gorgeous B&Bs to hotels, motels, camping and caravan parks – so why not relax, let your hair down and enjoy a little Lismore hospitality.
World Heritage listed rainforests, tumbling waterfalls, rolling hills dotted with coffee, tea and macadamia plantations, charming rural villages and winding country roads that offer spectacular views at almost every turn — welcome to the Northern Rivers hinterland.
Head to Casino, celebrated as the beef capital of NSW, and explore the beautifully preserved art deco streetscape and the tranquil riverside parks and gardens. Visit the mini rail (Sundays) and view miniature steam and diesel locomotives that delight rail enthusiasts from far and wide. Ride the train and visit the rail museum in the original Casino Railway Station. From Casino take the Bruxner Highway back through Lismore and follow the signs to Nimbin, spiritual home of Australia’s alternative lifestyle movement.
Nimbin’s main street is like nowhere else on earth so sit back in one of the cosmic cafés and enjoy the passing parade. The Nimbin Museum documents the Aquarius Festival and over thirty years of hippie culture.
From Nimbin, follow the signs to The Channon, for a refreshing ale and fascinating insight into local history.
Each month the Channon Market attracts visitors from around the globe.
Dunoon, just down the road, is hailed as the ‘Macadamia Capital of the World’.
Nearby Rocky Creek Dam, the area’s main water source, has a delightful picnic area.
Nearby Minyon Falls is a must! The falls plunge 100 metres from forested cliffs into a deep, palm-filled gorge. A walking trail, picnic and barbeque facilities make Minyon Falls an excellent day-trip destination.
Federal is quaint little village that’s great for an afternoon treat and the heritage charms of Bangalow are the perfect way to end the day. Antique shops, galleries and designer boutiques abound and cafés and restaurants offer everything from a casual snack to five star cuisine.
beach hoppers trail
A morning swim at Broken Head Nature Reserve, where rainforested slopes meet secluded beaches, is a magical start.
From Broken Head, follow the Coast Road south to Lennox Head, and enjoy breakfast in one of the many funky cafés. Lennox’s Seven Mile Beach is famous for beach fishing and the point has one of the world’s great surf breaks.
Metres from the beach is Lake Ainsworth, a fresh water lake amid a forest of tea-trees. Take a dip in the tea-coloured waters and you’ll emerge feeling refreshed and revitalised.
South of Lennox, Pat Morton Lookout, with panoramic ocean views, is perfect for whale and dolphin spotting or for taking to the skies on a hang-glider.
On to Ballina where you can explore the beach and riverfront cycleways or look for whales from the lighthouse. Riverfront Fawcett Park is a top spot for lunch. You can enjoy succulent seafood as you watch the boats go by.
Take in a river cruise or visit the Maritime & Naval Museum. You can visit to the home of tea tree oil or enjoy browsing the community gallery.
Heading south, turn off the highway and take the car ferry to South Ballina where secluded beaches offer great swimming, fishing and surfing. You can even 4WD right down to Evans Head.
Take the Pacific Highway south to Wardell and Broadwater to visit Broadwater National Park. On the Broadwater-Evans Head Road, watch for the signs to Salty Lagoon Walk.
Just down the road, the sleepy fishing village of Evans Head has sheltered estuaries and beaches for everyone – from the 15km Air Force Beach, to the quiet pandanus fringed Shark Bay.
Two kilometres south of the Evans River is Chinamens Beach, a favourite spot for serious surfboard riders who ride the swell that sweeps around Goanna Headland.
There are camping facilities in Bundjalung National Park and Silver Sands Caravan Park is perfectly situated at the very mouth of the Evans River. Evans also has fine hotel, motel and holiday apartments.
the good life trail
The Richmond River, its estuaries and the surrounding countryside are a holiday playground with so many different things to see, do and experience!
Charter a tinnie or a yacht, paddle a kayak or relax on a luxury cruise. In Ballina, there are short river cruises and full day charters with everything from snorkeling to gourmet luncheons.
Firstlight, a large and luxurious, purposebuilt catamaran, offers day trips under sail, or two or three-day residential dive and snorkeling adventures supported by an experienced dive crew.
You can explore the pristine waters around Ballina Island with Ballina Adventure Kayaks and discover the teeming bird-life among the mangroves.
If you fancy land bound adventures, head for the hills and a round of golf — a very relaxing way to spend a morning .
For lunch, visit the tiny hamlet of Newrybar for a blend blends country charm, antiques, curios and a dash of contemporary style.
Treat yourself to a massage or a full holistic recharge in Lennox Head — come for the afternoon or stay for a weekend.
Enjoy an early dinner overlooking the magnificent Richmond River in Ballina.
With the evening still young treat yourself to a limousine ride to the cultural centre of Lismore.
Where a thriving performing arts community supports a lively calendar of music, theatre, dance and family entertainment.