The NSW Northern Rivers and Coastal Region comprises some of the State’s most alluring coastal and inland destinations, from Byron Bay and Tweed Heads to Lismore and Nimbin. It’s the ideal destination for a four-day holiday with your loved one, packing an abundance of culture, natural spoils, fine dining and local history. Here’s an in-depth guide on the best NSW Northern Rivers and Coastal Region experiences.
Day 1: Local Experiences in Byron Bay & Ballina
Byron Bay is known for its historic lighthouse, boutique breweries and offshore surf breaks. Begin your getaway with a romantic morning hot-air balloon ride over Byron Bay. This one-hour sunrise flight reveals a bird’s-eye view of the region’s lush forests, rugged mountains and South Pacific Ocean coastline. You’ll be welcomed back with a delicious breakfast of locally-sourced food and sparkling champagne.
Drive 35 minutes south to reach another beachside haven. Home to the iconic Big Prawn, Ballina boasts a homey, small-town vibe with the Richmond River coursing alongside its sandy beaches and River Street shops and cafes. Hire a bicycle and cruise along the 25 kilometres of easy cycling paths. Ballina is the traditional home of the Nyangbul people, who you can learn about while cycling the Coastal Recreational Path. This pathway features revered heritage sites, interpretive displays, Indigenous murals and other culturally significant landmarks.
Once you’ve worked up an appetite, venture back to The Farm, located just outside Byron Bay. This working farm is home to a number of environmentally-focused businesses, including Flowers at the Farm, The Bread Social and Three Blue Ducks Restaurant. The Three Blue Ducks Restaurant serves delicious farm-grown meals, with no longer than two days between harvest to plate. After lunch, take a guided tour to meet the cuddly farm animals and learn more about The Farm’s sustainable practices.
Day 2: Gourmet Treasures in Newrybar, Eltham Valley & Lismore
Begin day two of your Northern Rivers couple’s holiday in Newrybar, a cosy hamlet about 20 kilometres from Byron Bay. Stroll along Main Street, where you’ll discover artisan retailers in heritage-style shops selling local artwork, crafts, antiques and stylish fashion accessories. Duck into the town’s famous bakery, Harvest Newrybar: Restaurant, Deli and Bakery, to dine on the seasonal organic fare in a traditional hinterland cottage.
If you’re craving something sweet for morning tea, a stop at Eltham Valley Pantry is a must. This award-winning restaurant is nestled on a farm with over 300 pecan trees where they source fresh ingredients for their signature pecan pies. Wash it down with freshly-roasted coffee, before taking a guided tour that showcases the entire pecan farming process, from growing to processing.
About 35 minutes away you’ll find Lismore, where World Heritage-listed rainforest surrounds heritage buildings. Pop into Flock Espresso and Eats to indulge in cold-pressed juices, turmeric lattes, organic coffee blends and meals crafted from local ingredients. Discover Lismore’s renowned artist community by wandering through the alleys around the cafe. These make up Back Alley Gallery, a colourful maze of murals and street art.
Spend the night at Eltham Hotel, a country-style pub tucked deep in the Northern Rivers hinterland. The spacious 2nd-floor rooms boast polished timber floors, plush queen-size beds and access to the hotel’s verandah. Finish your day with a local beer and wood-fired pizza at the on-site restaurant.
Day 3: Wide-Eyed Wonders in Tintenbar, Nimbin, Uki & Mount Warning
Spend the morning at Killen Falls in Tintenbar, where a picturesque swimming area backs into a 10-metre-high waterfall. Erosion has formed a shallow cave behind the waterfall, so you can rest on the rocks with your partner as water cascades in front of you.
Held every Wednesday, the Nimbin Farmer’s Market is a great place for fresh produce, alternative health products and live music in a friendly atmosphere. The laid-back village is a colourful haven near spectacular bush walks, lookouts and rock formations. If you miss the market, visit the town’s most notable shops, including Nimbin Candle Factory and Nimbin Art Gallery.
As you travel back towards the coast, make a stop in Uki, a historic village nestled at the base of Mount Warning. This creative community is home to Mavis’s Kitchen and Cabins. Book a table at the restaurant for a seasonal menu of produce sourced from farmers, artisans and the on-site organic garden. Stay in one of three unique cabins with private porches or balconies and lake views.
Before the day is over, experience the 1,156-metre-high Wollumbin Mount Warning from the air on a thrilling helicopter flight. You’ll have ample time in the air to admire this natural marvel from all angles, along with the sprawling expanse of stunning national parkland and hinterland that surrounds it.
Day 4: Up Close to Nature in Murwillumbah, Duranbah & Kingscliff Beach
Make the most of your last day with a sunrise kayak excursion on the Tweed River in Murwillumbah, about 15 minutes’ drive from Uki. Slowly paddle your way along the river, enjoying the peaceful natural landscapes and local wildlife before the rest of the world awakens.
Before you leave Murwillumbah, spend some time at Tweed Regional Gallery, located on the southern side of the Tweed River. Explore six exhibition rooms, which showcase an ever-changing display of paintings, photographs and artwork by national and regional artists. Duck into the adjoining Margaret Olley Art Centre, which honours the late-artist Margaret Olley, to admire artefacts from her former home, studio and private collections.
As you venture further through the Tweed region, you’ll encounter Tropical Fruit World in Duranbah, home to over 500 varieties of exotic fruits. You can sample fruit from around the world, take a tractor tour around the plantation, meet friendly farm animals in Fauna Park and purchase fruits from the Fruit Market.
Make your way to Kingscliff Beach before the sun sets, where you and your partner can try surfing during a lesson with an experienced boarder. Once you’ve carved enough waves, simply kick back on the sand and watch the sun melt into the water.