There is so much more to explore but here are ten amazing things to do for starters in the Northern Rivers of New South Wales. Visit a beach, explore hinterland, try good food and go to some cool festivals.
The Northern Rivers is an area of New South Wales with a chic and boho vibe. It’s most famous for Byron Bay.
The Northern Rivers region has a lot of cool features. Guests can choose to visit the beautiful Pacific coast beaches, deep valleys, or lush rainforests. Whatever you need, you can find it in the region around the next bend on meandering backroads. The climate here is perfect for travel any time of year.
The region of New South Wales is serviced by flights from Sydney, Melbourne and Newcastle to the Ballina-Byron Gateway Airport. Alternatively, driving from Brisbane or the Gold Coast takes one hour.
10 things you should do while in the Northern Rivers
1. Get up in the Air
The region’s scenic coastal and inland areas are best viewed from the air. To get a bird’s-eye view of the coastline and hinterlands, you can travel with eagles on a tandem paraglide flight or view the world below your feet on a hot-air ballooning experience. If you’re looking for speed, use a helicopter tour out of Ballina or Lennox Head to get breathtaking aerial photos and possibly see some whales.
2. Hanging five
You can surf for hours along the coast. For beginners, there are plenty of options for learning how to surf, and for more experienced surfers, surfing on a kite board is possible.
Those looking for a fun relaxing day on the water should go to Shaws Bay or Brunswick River. They’re great for stand-up paddle boarding.
3. Local drink recommendations: Sip and savour things to do
You are thirsty after all that walking; take a tour of the craft breweries and distilleries in the region. You will find samples as well as meet with brewers to learn about the brews and gins that are some of the best in the world. The tour includes a special stop at Cape Byron Distillery to learn about their botanical drinks.
If you’re in the area, Seven Mile Craft Brewery is a great place to go for a cold one. Located next door to the airport, this father-and-son operated brewery is the perfect place to sit and enjoy your holiday.
4. The Northern Rivers offers many river or whale watching cruises
Fishing in Ballina offers a rare and exciting opportunity, including fishing off the downtown pier or along a sandy beach.
Out of the Blue Adventures offers a wide range of tours, including one right on the water. As part of this tour, visitors get to interact with whales. When they go on a whale watching trip, they’ll have a marine biologist on board who is there to assist guests in their adventure. Whale migrations occur from June and November, so these migrations are guaranteed to take place or guests receive a free return trip.
5. The 5th thing on this list is like a cornucopia of local produce
Take a nice drive to the farm gate and fill your basket with fresh fruit and vegetables or, alternatively, visit the Farmers Markets on Tuesdays in Lismore and Wednesdays in Nimbin.
For artisanal gourmet products, Zentvelds Coffee Plantation and Roastery is the place to go. They teach the seed-to-cup process with a tour through their roastery, and you can take your own special blend home with you. Alternatively, visit Summerland Farm, a farm which grows macadamia nuts and avocados, as well as chickens which are free range. Their restaurant is open 7 days a week.
6. If you go to the Northern Rivers don’t forget to get creative
The Northern Rivers region is a great place for artists to find inspiration and there are plenty of creative spaces in hinterland towns such as Mullumbimby and Nimbin.
7. Get out and walk!
Walking is the best way to enjoy Ballina. Follow the coastal path north of Ballina and stop for a coffee at Lighthouse Beach Cafe for a perfect view of dolphins on waves. Walk up to Ballina Head for pictures of Richmond River (circa 1880).
Closer to Lennox head, there are a variety of ways to explore the area. For example, you can take a walk through Nightcap National Park and Protestor Falls. Alternately, you could enjoy a nature trail with Pat Morton Lookout.
8. Hit the greens and learn about all the other great things to do in the Northern Rivers
Fancy a round of golf? You’re in luck! There are some magnificent courses in this part of the world. Teven Valley Golf Course is a boutique nine-hole course tucked away in the hills behind Ballina. The Craig Parry-designed holes will test your skills, but the sublime surroundings more than make up for the challenge. The scenery and 18-hole course at Ballina Golf and Sports Club is another stunning setting to test your skills.
9. Saddle up
You have the opportunity to ride horses and explore the surrounding trails near Bangalow. Pegasus Park offers lessons for beginner riders and group trail rides, and more experienced riders can set off on their own.
10. So many reasons to dine in the Northern Rivers
Along the coast, there are many places you can visit. One option is Brunswick Heads. During your visit, try to get a snack at Bruns Bakery.
You can create a delicious gift for friends back home, by picking up some pecans from the Barefoot farms. You can also eat lunch at The Eltham Hotel.
The town of Federal is great for fresh sushi with a twist. The food at Doma Café is delicious!
There are so many more things to do in the Northern Rivers
We haven’t even scratched the surface of things to do. This world renowned region of Australia is a true jewel. All you need is a sense of adventure. We recommend bringing along a sturdy pair of hiking boots as some of the trails are absolute must do experiences. You can also find more things to do closer to Byron Bay.