Heading down the coast from Byron Bay, stop off at the little seaside village of Lennox Head. If you’re a keen surfer, you’ll have definitely heard of Lennox Head as it is a mecca among surfers and famous for its right hand point break Lennox Point – which is one of the top 10 surf breaks in Australia. It is also where you will find Lake Ainsworth, a freshwater lake that has distinctive tannin-stained waters – caused by the surrounding tea trees.
30 kilometres south of Byron Bay is Ballina. The highway actually bypasses Ballina, but its worth the detour. If you’re stopping for just a short time, set yourself up the beach in a park, with some fish and chips and a cold drink, and watch the boats sail by.
Just past the Ballina turnoff, the Bruxner Highway leads you towards Lismore and Nimbin. Along the way, stop off at Alstonville though and grab yourself some yummy goodies from the Macadamia nut and Avocado farm.
A world of arts
Lismore is located on the doorstep of a number of World Heritage Listed National Parks, and it is also home to more artists and buskers per capita than anywhere else in Australia. Its well known for its cultural diversity and creativity, as well as its relaxed lifestyle and the city itself is not only vibrant, but there is also plenty of history evident, with many buildings dating back to the 1800s, as well as plenty of arts, crafts and live music.
Lismore was once a part of the rainforest which was referred to as “The Big Scrub,” – less than 1% of this remains now following European settlement. You can still see a remnant of this rainforest on the Southern Cross University grounds and at Wilsons Nature Reserve.
Another thing that Lismore is well known for – its fresh produce. The rich volcanic soils of the area help to produce some of the best food in Australia! Take a walk along the river’s edge, visit the Heritage Park playground (including a train ride!), sip on a coffee and relax.
About an hour from Lismore is where you will find Nimbin. If you’re Australian, you would have heard of the town. Nimbin is part of what is known as the “Rainbow Region”, an area of cultural importance to the Indigenous Bundjalung people. It is famous for its alternative subculture – stemmed from the communes which started to build up in the area on the 1970s and 1980s.
Writer Austin Pick’s impressions of the village were: “It is as if a smoky avenue of Amsterdam has been placed in the middle of the mountains behind frontier-style building facades. … Nimbin is a strange place indeed.”
To enter the town, whatever direction you go, the scenery is farmland and stunning landscapes and national parks. The shops are colourful, the air is … well … let’s just say “green” … and you can see why Nimbin is such a mecca for back-packers, musicians and artists, healers and hippies.
Stop off at the Nimbin Candle Factory. It’s actually been said that Nimbin candles are the best candles in the world to meditate by, and they’re also used extensively in ceremonies, colour therapy and spells in many areas. The colours are amazing, the smell as you enter the factory is overpowering in the most wonderful way, and it’s a lot of fun watching the process of how the candles are made.
Somewhere to stay
There are plenty of accommodation options throughout the region, from seaside apartments in Ballina, to hotels in Lismore, and guest houses in Nimbin.
Near Alstonville you will find a little haven – the ultimate romantic getaway. Pines on the Plateau is a bed and breakfast, self-catering country retreat. Here, it’s easy to lose yourself amongst the ancient trees of the hinterland and the lodges are not only comfortable, but also extremely tranquil! There are two cottages, beautifully decorated and the wrap-around verandah overlooks the gardens, lush green farmland and finally the mountains on the horizon. The views are amazing and mixed with the decor, you are truly set to experience an all-country feel. With a breakfast hamper awaiting you, and welcoming personal touches, this is a wonderful place to stay.
If you’re looking for somewhere to stay in Lismore, the Gateway Motel is a popular, relatively new four star motel that is less than a 5 minute drive to Lismore CBD. The motel’s gardens are beautifully landscaped and there is an in-ground swimming pool, as well as undercover parking out the back. You can either dine at the restaurant or get yourself some room service, and there are a range of room options to choose from.