Take a day trip or spend a week. There is a lot to discover in the World Heritage-listed rainforests, historic villages and green valleys of the Byron Bay Hinterland.
The beautiful beaches may draw visitors to Byron Bay, but most people soon discover that the hinterland is also worth exploring. With its green rolling hills, fertile farmlands, historic towns and rainforest, it offers a scenic and cultural contrast to Byron’s beach lifestyle. Cruise the maze of country roads and you’ll soon discover numerous eco-friendly, alternative lifestyle communities and tiny, picturesque villages. The hinterland is home to some of the state’s best fine dining experiences and shopping, as well as World Heritage-listed tracts of ancient, untouched rainforest.
Things to do
All the best cafés and restaurants in Byron Bay and its surrounds pride themselves on serving local produce. If you really want to get a taste of the Byron Bay hinterland, head 20 kilometres (12 miles) southwest from Byron Bay to the village of Newrybar. Here you’ll find Harvest restaurant, deli and bakery, which serves up the best of the Byron hinterland’s organic fruit and produce, from breakfast till dinner. What the owners can’t source locally, they grow themselves in their kitchen garden, visible from your table. Work up an appetite before you eat by browsing through the village’s galleries, clothing stores and artist workshops.
Stock up your picnic hamper with home-grown supplies or pick up a unique souvenir at the weekend markets in Bangalow, another typical hinterland town about 20 minutes southwest of Byron Bay by car. This is where Byron locals come to eat, shop and escape the summer holiday crowds. The historic main street shopping strip has an eclectic mix of fashion, homewares, antiques, art and gifts. Look out for Island Luxe, a beautifully curated store boasting a fashionable selection of homewares and clothing. Don’t leave town without trying some locally grown coffee in one of the many cafés and eateries. One Green Acre at the local bowling club is an unexpectedly good foodie find.
The small dairy farming town of Nimbin became the Australian heart of the hippy movement when it hosted the Aquarius Festival in 1973, and many of its locals still follow an alternative lifestyle. Most of the area’s farms are low-impact, organic or biodynamic and some shops are run on a co-operative profit-sharing model. Psychedelic murals adorn the streets, shops like The Green Bank and Hemping Around sell hand-made eco-friendly clothes and new-age cafés serve sustainably farmed produce – head to Truffula Seeds for organic treats or the Abundance Cafe for dishes made with home-grown organic produce. You can also visit the Nimbin Markets.
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