No stay in Byron Bay is complete without venturing west into the hills of the Byron Bay hinterland. You can easily spend a day just weaving through the villages, or plan ahead to do some of the bushwalks to natural features such as Minyon Falls and Protestor Falls.
Since European settlement, logging, cattle farming, dairy farming, bananas and also sugarcane have dominated the region, carving the hinterland into a series of small villages and hamlets connected by a meandering web of country roads, rolling hills, streams, rivers and abandoned railway tracks. In more recent times the region has also become known for its counter-culture, spawning many small organic and permaculture farms and multiple-occupancy properties. The region is also Australia’s premier macadamia producer, has a flourishing coffee industry, and sports dozens of B&Bs, guest houses, retreats, day spas and restaurants for you to soak up the tranquillity.
The Byron Bay hinterland once formed part of a giant volcano that was last active some 20 million years ago. The gradual erosion of this volcano has produced one of the largest calderas in the world,centred around the visually dominant Mt Warning (1100m) as its central magma plug. The remnants of this volcano can still be seen in the spectacular and undulating landscape, while the rich and fertile soil that remains has brought forth a vast variety of sub-tropical flora and fauna to delight nature enthusiasts, artists, photographers and bush walkers alike.To preserve and protect this unique eco system five World Heritage listed National Parks have been designated in the region and straddle both sides of the NSW—QLD border. Visitors have easy access to stunning waterfalls, ancient rainforests and abundant wildlife.
The best ways to see and get around the hinterland are by car or by taking one of the daily bus tours to Nimbin, which make several stops at significant points along the way.
If you’re driving, be aware of that heavy rainfall can result in creeks and streams quickly swelling and cutting off access. Maps of the region are recommended and are available from car rental offices, local tourist information offices, petrol stations, and some hotels and backpackers’.
Claiming to be the "Macadamia capital of Australia" Dunoon is also gateway to
Rocky Creek Dam
which supplies drinking water to the area and hosts a well-maintained picnic spot with barbeques, a playground, and the Rous Water Rainforest Reserve. There are several family-friendly walks through the reserve, ranging from 20 minutes to 2 hours, with options to walk across the dam wall, over an elevated boardwalk, and into the mature ‘Big Scrub’ rainforest of the Nightcap National Park.
The Channon village is famous primarily for the
The Channon Craft Market
Is held on the 2nd Sunday of the month at the showgrounds.The Channon also provides access to
Reached by a 15-minute walk through stunning bangalow palm rainforest.Swimming in the falls is not permitted as the waters are home to the endangered Fleay's barred frog. The name of the fallscelebrates Australia’s first successful anti-logging protest in 1979.
Perhaps the most infamous village in the Byron Hinterland is Nimbin. This once quiet dairy village was home to the 1973 Aquarius Festival that sparked a migration of hippies and those seeking alternative lifestyles to the Northern Rivers. Today, Nimbin is a bustling place filled with shops, cafes, museums, art and craft galleries and tourists; and no matter how conservative you look, don’t be surprised if someone offers to sell you a ‘cookie’!
The historic village of Eltham was once a bustling railway village. These days, you might like to drop in for a drink at one the region’s most loved country pubs, the Eltham Hotel,built in 1902.
Uki is a small village at the base of Mt Warning. It hosts a small number of shops, a pub, cafè and galleries.The climb up the mountain takes approximately two hours and is a popular amongst those keen to be at the first place on the Australian mainland to witness the rising sun.
Note: Mt Warning is known as ‘Wollumbin’ to the local Aboriginal inhabitants; it is sacred and they ask that you do not climb it.
The villages of Mullumbimby, Bangalow, Newrybar, Clunes, Federal, Rosebank, and Stokers Siding are also worth a visit, each of them holding their own history and charm.
Things to Do:
Located on the Pacific Highway between Bangalow and Ballina, the Macadamia Castle offers a family-friendly day out. The Animal Fun Park features a petting zoo, train, 18-hole mini golf course and a daily programme of interactive animal displays; teenagers will love trying out the Segway transporters. Priding itself on using fresh local coffee and produce, the café is famous for its fluffy pancake stacks served with a choice of macadamia toppings. There is also a find foods section featuring the largest selection of local food products on the northern NSW coast, including coffees, mueslis, jams, relishes and oils.
The Byron Bay Hinterland is a haven for bush walkers with easy access to:
- Border Ranges National Park
- Broken Head Nature Reserve
- Bundjalung National Park
- Mebbin National Park
- Nightcap National Park
- Victoria Park Nature Reserve
- WhianWhian State Conservation Area
- Wollumbin National Park
For more information on fees, access, and weather conditions, check with the NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service.