From Byron Bay to Brunswick Heads and more
Picture yourself gazing out over the spectacular ocean from the snow white sand on a Byron Bay beach. Perhaps a dolphin pod or whale passes by and a naturally beautiful, sun kissed local dives into a perfect rolling blue wave. You take a sip of your cool drink and think…boooooring…It could happen!
Drive around Byron Bay in a reliable car rental
Byron Bay, once the destination of families, hippies and backpackers is now a haven for the rich and tanned. So, if you've had enough of the designer beach towels and overpriced pretentious food, jump in a rental car and see what attracted the real folk all those years ago.
About half an hour north of Byron Bay sits Brunswick Heads and its miles and miles of pristine beaches, funky shops and cafes and beautiful river views. For families, Torakina Beach on the Brunswick River offers young swimmers a protected, calm place to swim and enjoy water sports. For surfers, Brunswick Heads Patrolled Beach, North Head Beach and New Brighton Beach are all good options. Brunswick Heads is a favourite destination for local tourists from the Gold Coast and Brisbane but lacks the prestige and publicity of Byron Bay, which makes it a good option for budget travelers and those seeking a quieter holiday.
North-west of Brunswick Heads is the regional centre of Murwillumbah. Featuring art deco architecture, a charming town centre, the mighty Tweed River and postcard views all around, Murwillumbah is a nice place to visit for a quiet cup of tea on the high street while deciding which way to head next.
Choose between any of the spectacular national parks, the family-friendly attractions at Condong, Springbrook and Natural Bridge, or to head down to the famed town of Nimbin, Australia's marijuana capital.
Springbrook National Park
For nature lovers, any of the local national parks will impress. The area boasts some of the loveliest forests in the state thanks to a high annual rainfall, and the Murwillumbah Visitors Centre will be able to provide you with information and maps. For families, the World Heritage Listed Springbrook National Park and Natural Bridge, 45 minutes north-west is a great option. NaturalBridge is a stunning crystal clear waterfall tumbling through the roof of a basalt cave, home to thousands of twinkling fire flies. The easy bush walk to Natural Bridge can be done at night (bring a torch) and you might also see several species of luminous fungi. If available, take the guided tour with a local forest ranger to see some unexpected wildlife, like the mud banks filled with giant, hidden and unbelievably creepy Trap Door Spiders.
Throughout Springbrook National Park, you'll find walking tracks, waterfalls and abundant wildlife. There is ample accommodation in the area including campgrounds.
If you're after a different kind of attraction, you'll be pleasantly surprised by Tropical Fruit World, just ten minutes north of Murwillumbah. It might be the poorer cousin to the famed theme parks of the Gold Coast but it offers a surprisingly entertaining day out and an absolute must for foodies. Sample some of the world's rarest and most delicious fruits (including the miracle Chocolate Fruit – where health food tastes and looks like chocolate pudding!), feed and pat native Australian animals and enjoy dozens of tasty, interactive, educational activities. For those not interested in visiting the whole attraction, there is a divine selection of delectable, unique fruity ice-creams and sundaes available to the public at the centre café as well as a tropical fruit market where you can pick up some unusual and delicious snacks for your drive.
Finally, there's the ever-controversial Nimbin. About 45 minutes south-west of Murwillumbah, Nimbin could have been a typical country town, nestled in picturesque rolling hills, producing milk or wool. Instead, the people of Nimbin produce, well, crops.
In 1973, the town hosted the Aquarius Music Festival, attracting hippies from far and wide, many of whom stayed on to establish a free-thinking, pot-smoking utopia where hippies, alternative thinkers, the police, the local indigenous folk, travelers, and local farmers co-exist in relative peace. The town boasts a comprehensive museum dedicated to the history of marijuana use as well as bright, cheery cafes and boutiques. The atmosphere is generally light and friendly and quite unlike anywhere else, however there is a seedier undertone which locals often blame on the influx of harder drugs into the town.
The annual harvest festival MardiGrass takes place on the first weekend in May with displays, arts and crafts, fashion, speakers, parades and a wide range of marijuana and hemp products – from soap, to fabric, to oil, to cookies, cakes and chocolates, and of course, plain old, no frills pot by the bag full.
Nimbin Hemp Embassy
While the local police are said to turn a blind (and rumoured to be quite bloodshot) eye to the goings on in Nimbin, police outside the town are not so liberal. While plenty of people indulge while in the town; it is not recommended to take samples away as police will often stop and search cars coming from the town.
While Byron Bay is undoubtedly a beautiful town that eagerly embraces tourism, the whole Tweed Coast and its hinterland is filled with breathtaking scenery and unique townships, so consider all there is to see when planning your road trip to the area.
Did we miss any other attraction from Byron Bay? Which one is your favourite? Let us know with a comment below!
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