Your guide to the Northern Rivers
TIS THE SEASON OF GIVING
In what’s becoming a not-so-secret garden, the Northern Rivers is still full of lesser-known locations that the locals are no doubt reluctant to give up. But it’s the Christmas season so why not share what our beautiful area has to offer. Even the more well-known locations are a must-visit, you just have to pick your time.
DON’T GIVE IN TO HUNGER
After spending a day sun baking on Main Beach in Byron, the majority of people will give in to their hunger and stop in at Fish Heads before they reach the town. But locals know you only have to walk less than 50m to reach The Loft, a recently opened restaurant and bar where you can enjoy a long and lazy afternoon overlooking the vibrant Jonson Street while the sun goes down. If you’re interested in trying local seafood and artisan spirits from the area, stay for dinner and treat yourself with a cocktail.
THERE’S MORE THAN JUST BYRON
Byron has rightfully earned its spot at the top of tourists list when visiting the Northern Rivers, but if you’ve ever seen one of your friend’s Instagram posts of them visiting a lush waterfall and swimming hole – chances are it’s not in Byron.
The country roads you will inevitably drive on once you’re out of Byron really do have a certain charm to them – just mind the potholes as some are a bit worse for wear.
Follow Bangalow Road heading South towards Suffolk Park out of Byron and take a right at the Golf Course – this is a continuation of Bangalow road and will take you straight to the heart of Bangalow, which could be considered the ultimate spot for a Byron Bay day trip. Visit the weir whilst in Bangalow for an idyllic picnic spot just off the main road – perfect for families and kids.
Could kill for Killen
Once you see this waterfall you’ll understand the rather dark title. It truly feels like you are in your own hidden paradise, with the waterhole surrounded by foliage draping over the rock walls. Before taking the bush track down to the waterfall, take a walk along the boardwalk and take in the views.
Killen Falls is home to one of the last standing remnants of the big scrub rainforest. The big scrub rainforest once blanketed the Northern Rivers before the cedar-getters cleared most of this forest and it is significant to the region. Killen Falls is located about 15min outside Bangalow on Killen Falls Road (off Friday Hut Road).
Ballina & Lennox
When the Byron crowd tires of boozy nights and hungover mornings, it graduates a short way down the highway to the more sleepy coastal towns of Lennox Head and Ballina.
Commonly known as just ‘Lennox’, it is the smaller of the two towns and like Byron, offers some of the nicest coastline in Australia. Right down the end of the main road, you’ll find Lake Ainsworth, a Tea Tree lake that is very popular with the locals for picnics and parties. If large crowds aren’t your scene try to avoid it on Australia Day. For breathtaking views, head to Pat Morton Lookout, a short walk or even shorter drive from the town centre.
If you’re feeling a bit peckish and want to try some local food with a relaxed vibe, head to either William St Cafe or Shelter Cafe. Both offer a wide range of delicious local and seasonal produce and both conveniently located on Pacific Parade.
Inbetween Lennox and Ballina you’ll find a popular beach with the locals. Sharps Beach. Rolling hills to one side and golden sand to the other, Sharpes is an easy choice for a beach out of the main drag – it’s patrolled too. Boulders Beach, also located between the two towns is great for no crowds and offers a beautiful and broody headland.
Ballina is a misunderstood gem of the Northern Rivers, if you’ve never been there before, one of the top spots to really get the lay of the land is to climb up Ballina water tower, you’ll get a great view of the town and the pristine coastline all the way up to Lennox.
In terms of beaches, the Serpentine (or North Creek Beach) is right in town and is the perfect spot for fishing, swimming and relaxing. Across the road from the Serpentine, you’ll also find Shaws Bay, another great place for swimming, especially for kids as there are no waves.
I couldn’t write about Ballina without mentioning Chef & Shuka, a Middle Eastern inspired cafe with the most delicious and traditional food. The head chef’s brother convinced him to bring his culinary skills up from Melbourne to open this cafe and I can’t express how glad I am that he decided to.
If you find yourself looking for a place to go out for a special dinner, go to Che Bon. A French restaurant located in the heart of Ballina. Friendly French owners and staff and delicious escargot. Bon Appétit.
On the flip side of the coin, what is it that keeps Byron going all night? What fuels the beating heart of Byron’s nightlight? Alcohol…naturally.
Of all the Byron Bay tours – especially Byron Bay brewery tours, we are confident that Behind the Barrel will offer you a unique and wholesome insight into the world of craft beer and spirits. When you’re done lazing on the beach, our tour is the perfect way to explore the Northern Rivers whilst learning about and sampling some of the best artisan beer and spirits in the world.