Around Byron Bay
Byron Bay is the most well known settlement in the Byron Shire, but its suburbs and neighbouring villages and towns are delightful places to explore, each with their own individual flavour and attractions.
Less than ten minutes drive south of Byron Bay, Suffolk Park still feels like an old time seaside suburb slowly waking to a new day. it has older style houses mixed with modern beach houses and the caravan park. Built on the back of Tallow Beach, away from the hustle and bustle of Byron town centre, Suffolk Park’s wide, streets are perfect for bike riding and for kids to play safely.
A small, friendly shopping centre and tavern services local needs and most of the suburb is a flat stroll to the beach. Once you’re on the sand, the houses are invisible and the beach stretches into the distance, perfect for long walks.
‘Beachside’ Suffolk Park has plenty of holiday letting available.
At the south end of Tallow Beach, the rocky outcrops that give Broken Head its name are home to dozens of seabirds, while the waves that break around them host intrepid surfers.
Broken Head is a tiny settlement with just a handful of houses, one or two small resorts and a caravan park with a small shop, nestled into the thick rainforest of the nature reserve which surrounds it.
On good surfing days the car park is full, and at other times Broken Head is a forgotten part of Byron. The walking trail around the headland leads to the tiny, secluded Kings Beach or a winding dirt road through the rainforest will eventually bring you to Seven Mile Beach. Along the way you can stop off and walk down bushland trails to Byron’s most secluded spots to swim.
This outer suburb of Byron Bay is tucked on the lower edge of the escarpment, just inland from Byron itself. Most visitors don’t know it exists, unless they are lucky enough to stay in one of the exclusive guest houses or holiday houses there.
Ewingsdale is leafy and quiet, with ocean and lighthouse views from some properties and a country feel. There are no small building blocks in Ewingsdale – the suburb is full of rolling lawns, tropical gardens, birds and wildlife.
Byron’s neighbouring township, Mullumbimby, is known as ‘the biggest little town in Australia’. Mullumbimby is where the mainstream meets the alternative lifestyle, resulting in a town with a flavour all of its own.
Straddling the Brunswick River, at the foot of Mount Chincogan, Mullumbimby is a classic country town with wide, straight streets and pretty weatherboard houses. It’s home to many alternative lifestyles and its different residents cheerfully coexist in mutual respect. Every evening the town is taken over by rainbow lorikeets which gather in its tall palms and fill the air with their chatter.
Mullumbimby is home to Byron Shire Council and is a larger shopping centre than Byron Bay, making it a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. You can spend the day under a shady tree sipping coffee, watch the colourful parade of locals on the main street, visit the Mullumbimby markets once a month and the Fresh produce makrets every Friday Morning. Or perhaps partake of the many healing therapies available.
Keep an eye out for the annual Mullumbimby Chincogan Fiesta in September. If you’re feeling fit, the fiesta includes a foot race from the post office to the top of Mt Chincogan (300 metres high) and back.
The Brunswick River winds through the shire and spills out into the Pacific Ocean at Brunswick Heads, a gentle fishing village that’s a great haven for families and those wanting time out. It brings together river and ocean life like no other town in the shire.
You’ll never forget the water when you’re in Brunswick Heads. The village is centred on the blue sweep of the tidal river and the roar of the surf is always in the air. The fishing coop sells fresh and cooked fish on the dock.
To get to Brunswick’s surf beach you need to clatter over the old wooden bridge which spans the river. Fisherfolk line the rock wall breakwaters and a tiny beach at river mouth provides protected swimming for youngsters, while the often deserted surf beach stretches out for many miles to the south.
Brunswick’s resident white corella parrots play in the riverside park, which is fringed with cafes and restaurants. Brunswick’s classic old pub which looks over the river is a gathering point for all ages. The Fish and Chip festival in January celebrates the village’s past with woodchopping competitions.
Historic Bangalow, ten minutes drive up the hill from Byron Bay, has survived virtually intact from the late 19th century. It’s a picturesque village with lovingly maintained weatherboard shops and houses, now home to a thriving café and restaurant scene. Bangalow’s country village heritage is evident in its well-loved community halls, its historic agricultural show and its small, close-knit community.
Bangalow is home to some of the best art and antique galleries in the region and its monthly market, under the shade of the massive fig trees at the showground, is a colourful collection of all the region has to offer.
Bangalow has its share of performances and festivals including the billy-cart derby in which the main street is closed for a day of thrills and spills billy carts ranging from the basic to the backyard masterpiece. On Christmas eve the village lights up for its own carnival. Bangalow’s park and old time swimming pool are worth a visit any time of the year.
Lennox Head is best known for its right hand point break, where experienced surfers have to leap across a rock wall into the water to paddle out to it. This helps keep this top surf spot the preserve of experienced surfers and the site for surfing competitions including the biennial Lennox Masters Surf Classic, the All Girl Surf Showdown (June) and Gromfest for juniors (July).
The village is clustered in a small area at the foot of the headland, looking out to the north and unashamedly worshipping the ocean. Houses, pubs and restaurants line the edge of the beach to the north right up to Lake Ainsworth, a tea tree lake and camping ground that’s a haven for still water activities like kayaking and windsurfing.
The Pat Morton lookout on the Lennox headland is unparalleled for watching surf antics, hang gliders, dolphins and whales and is the start of a coastal walk that winds down along the beaches towards Ballina.
Situated on the mouth of the Richmond River, Ballina is a port city and a fishing centre. Its beaches and estuaries are the sites of excellent fishing and home to many birds and ocean creatures.
You can take advantage of Ballina’s cycleways and pathways to follow the coastline to Ballina’s east and look out for humpback whales (between June and October), dolphins, sea turtles and sting rays. There are plenty of cafes along the way.
Ballina is home to many restaurants, nightclubs and a huge variety of accommodation. As one of the key regional centres in the northern rivers district, it provides shopping and services for surrounding areas.