Destinations / Oceania

Unspoilt Nature in NSW’s Northern Rivers & Coastal Region

The wonder of nature abounds in NSW’s Northern Rivers & Coastal Region, from undulating mountain landscapes and lush World Heritage-listed rainforests to dazzling beaches and tranquil rivers. The Northern Rivers is not the place to stay indoors, especially when you have a range of scenic natural wonders, such as Minyon Falls, Cabarita Beach and Point Danger Lookout awaiting you.

Minyon Falls, Byron Bay

Minyon Falls
Credit: iStock

From Byron Bay, you need only drive 50-minutes to reach the magnificent Minyon Falls, which cascades over 100 metres past ancient rhyolite cliffs once part of the Tweed Volcano. Soak up the views of Minyon Falls from the scenic lookout and spot native wildlife, such as koalas and kookaburras. Walking trails let you explore the base of the falls, while the picnic area is perfect for an afternoon barbecue.

Wollumbin National Park, Tweed

Wollumbin National Park
Credit: Destination NSW

Immerse yourself in Australia’s spectacular nature at World Heritage-listed Wollumbin National Park. Its most prominent feature is the 1,157-metre-tall Mount Warning, which towers over the verdant Gondwana Rainforest of Australia. Lyrebird track offers an ideal introduction to the National Park, leading you under shady palms and past lyrebirds, whipbirds and other native wildlife. Pack a picnic and sit down for lunch by the babbling Breakfast Creek.

Bundjalung National Park, near Evans Head

Do you love water-based activities? Don’t miss the beauty of Bundjalung National Park, home to Pacific Ocean beaches, freshwater lagoons and multiple rivers and creeks. Covering 210 square kilometres, Bundjalung National Park is perfect for reef snorkelling, beach and river fishing, mountain biking trails and canoeing down Evans River. Enjoy a leisurely picnic at Shark Bay or visit Gummigurrah, an area used as a winter camping ground by the native Bundjalung people.

Cabarita Beach, Kingscliff

Cabarita Beach
Credit: Destination NSW

If you’re looking for a beach with great local dining options, picnic areas and a laid-back vibe, Cabarita Beach is the place for you. Located only 15 minutes’ drive from Kingscliff, its golden sand stretches out into the Pacific Ocean along the picturesque coastline. Keep your eyes peeled for humpback whales during migration season or grab your board to surf the fantastic breaks.

Toonumbar National Park, near Kyogle

World Heritage-listed Toonumbar National Park showcases a wealth of rural vistas, Indigenous culture, native wildlife and immersive walking trails across almost 15,000 hectares. Explore subtropical rainforests, swim in cool freshwater creeks or admire the dramatic volcanic peaks from scenic lookouts. For a memorable day in the park, organise a horse-riding excursion or chill out at the Iron Pot Creek campground.

Tweed River, The Tweed

Tweed River
Credit: Destination NSW

A highlight of the Tweed, the magnificent Tweed River is the perfect outdoor playground for kayaking, fishing, water skiing and stand-up paddleboarding. For a truly unique Tweed experience, join local Catch a Crab tour, which lets you catch live crabs, hand-feed pelicans and pump for yabbies. The crabs are then freshly cooked on board the boat.

Cape Byron Marine Park, Byron Bay

Cape Byron Marine Park
Credit: iStock

Stretching about 37 kilometres from the Brunswick River to Lennox Head, Cape Byron Marine Park exudes coastal splendour with rocky shorelines, tranquil Byron beaches, lush tributaries and mesmerising Pacific Ocean views. You can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities, from swimming and walking to fishing and scuba diving. Keep a lookout for migrating humpback whales, dolphins, grey nurse sharks and other marine life.

Richmond Range National Park, near Kyogle

Venture deep into the lush rainforest at Richmond Range National Park, about 1.5 hours’ drive from Lismore. The park’s peaceful campgrounds offer access to a range of walking and horse-riding trails, including the 400-metre-long Culmaran loop track, home to exotic animals, such as carpet pythons and fruit doves. If you prefer to drive, take the scenic route around Richmond Range and admire the panoramic mountain and rural vistas.

Nightcap National Park, Lismore

Experience the beauty of Lismore’s natural spoils at World Heritage-listed Nightcap National Park, where ancient rainforests are populated with rare animal species, including Albert’s lyrebirds. Hiking trails reward you with bird’s-eye views of Minyon Falls and Protesters Falls. Enjoy a picnic by Terania Creek or tackle the challenging 18-kilometre-long Goorgana walking track.

Ballina Historic Waterfront Trail, Ballina

Ballina Historic Waterfront Trail
Credit: Destination NSW

Combine regional history with unspoiled nature in Ballina as you walk or cycle along the Ballina Historic Waterfront Trail. You’ll see 19 interpretive signs that reveal fascinating historical information about the Richmond River, early European settlers and the native Nyangbul people. Dolphins are often seen playing at the mouth of the Richmond River and whales are frequently spotted from the North Wall.

Cape Byron Lighthouse, Byron Bay

Cape Byron Lighthouse
Credit: iStock

Nestled on Australia’s most-eastern point, the historic Cape Byron Lighthouse has been operating since 1901. Not only can you tour the lighthouse and learn about the various shipwrecks offshore, but you can also soak up uninterrupted vistas of the South Pacific Ocean and Byron Bay beaches and township. From the lighthouse, you can often spot whales, sea turtles and dolphins.

Byron Bay Main Beach

Byron Bay Main Beach
Credit: iStock

A short walk from the town centre, Byron Bay Main Beach is a sprawling expanse of white sand bordered by leafy parklands and alluring turquoise water. This family-friendly beach is patrolled by Surf Lifesavers and features a range of waterfront dining options. Go for a surf before heading to the Pacific Dining Room Beach Hotel for cocktails and hearty Australian fare.

Point Danger Lookout, Tweed Heads

No trip to Tweed Heads is complete without jumping across the Queensland-New South Wales border to Point Danger Lookout, named by Captain Cook in 1770. This iconic headland boasts fascinating maritime history, showcased at the Walk of Remembrance and Captain Cook Memorial. Spend some time admiring the panoramic Coral Sea views, where locals surf the headland breaks and dolphins play offshore.

Tweed Endeavour Cruises, Tweed Heads

Experience the cultural and natural highlights of the Tweed River by hopping aboard a Tweed Endeavour Cruise. You can take the scenic 4.5-hour return cruise to Stotts Island Nature Reserve, indulge in a two-hour morning tea and rainforest voyage or get hands-on during a yabbie and crab catching tour.

 

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