Teaming up with Camplify and Destination NSW, we are discovering the very best winter vibes of Byron Bay and NSW northern coast, tasting the culinary scene, and enjoying the region’s stunning natural landscapes.
In the second half of our trip along the east coast (look back on the first half) we plunge into the thriving culture and experience the beautiful countryside of the Byron Hinterlands, followed by the coastal holiday vibes of the Tweed Heads region.
Camplify, the peer-to-peer Caravan hire and RV sharing community set us up with the ultimate ‘glampervan’ from Cosy Campers to take us on this journey. We lived and cruised down the coast in Juanita, a stylish and rather luxurious motorhome decked out in wooden timber interiors, solar panels, USB ports, a stocked fridge and spacious lounge and table area that transforms into a comfy queen size bed.
Perched on a on the corner of a residential street, a few blocks back from Clarke’s beach front, you’ll find Top Shop, a corner shop turned quaint cafe, serving delicious in-house and takeaway breakfast and lunch food. They’ll be locals and tourists alike, hanging out on the surround lawn and eating burgers, toast and acai bowls on tables and benches. Ordering at the counter, you choose your food from the large chalk boards, but we guarantee you will also find yourself unable to resist one of the fresh baked pastries, muffins and croissants lining along the bench front.
For breakfast, we tried the fruit loaded acai bowl, avocado and lemon on sourdough, and shared an oh-so-scrumptious pear pastry, while sipping excellent coffee by Single Origin Roasters. We were tempted to come back for lunch, with the menu boasting burgers gourmet burgers made with Farmers Markets ingredients, eggs
The Byron Hinterlands is dotted with beautiful towns, nestled amidst the rolling fields and lush forests. Our first stop was Bangalow, and we were lucky enough to be there on the fourth Sunday of the month, when the town holds the Bangalow Markets. Sprawled across large forest grounds shaded by giant camphor laurel trees, the markets attract locals and visitors from nearby towns to the once a month colourful display of stalls, live music and food. There was stall holders selling everything from art, fashion, crafts, herbals, gourmet food and more. Soak up the vibrant atmosphere and sample the local delicacies while sitting back and enjoying the local performers. Afterwards, take a stroll down Bangalow’s main street and check out the vintage stores, fashion boutiques and cafes.
Tip: Ready for another coffee fix, we wandered along the main street of Bangalow and came across a hole in the wall, called Sparrow Coffee. The coffee here was divine, strong and very smooth – definitely give it a try.
Have a picnic to the backdrop of sweeping views over the hinterlands and ocean. Head to a local grocers or supermarket back in Byron Bay and stock up on your favourite snacks, or, if you are lucky enough to be driving a Cosy Camper, they provide a fridge stocked with cheese, strawberries, dips and crackers. The lookout we stopped at for a picnic in the Cosy Camper, was located on the corner of Hinterland Way and Coolamon Scenic Drive. It can be easy to miss, so keep an eye out for the turning onto Coolamon Scenic Drive on your right, as you head from the direction of Byron Bay.
Our beer tour at Stone and Wood Brewery was a real highlight of the trip. Fiercely independent and with an environmentally friendly focus, Stone and Wood Brewery has been delivering handcraft beer since 2008 in Byron Bay. We, along with a few other visitors, started the tour by sitting around a table, listening to the origins of Stone and Wood, by the brewery’s two resident beer experts. Stone and Wood blend for experiences not styles, their beers each resembling a location.
Their award winning Pacific Ale is inspired by Stone and Wood’s home by the Pacific Ocean, fused with fruity aromas. The Garden Ale is inspired by happy times hanging in the backyard with friends; while the Green Coast is influenced by the rolling grassy plains and coastal atmosphere between Byron Bay and Newcastle. The tour continued on inside the brewery, where we were taken through the process of how the beer is made and how different flavours are achieved. It then concluded with a paddle board, to sample the different types of beer – including some exclusively on offer at the brewery.
Yoga! A trip to Byron is not complete without a little early morning zen, and movements to energize you for the day. Open to avid yogies and beginners alike, the Bondi Yoga Centre was the ultimate way to start our Monday morning. We attended the Purna Flow class, that ran for an hour and a half, and focused on breathing and smooth transitions between poses. Per their website, Purna is described as ” meaning integrated or complete, incorporates not just the physical postures but also meditation, pranayama breath control, philosophy and the yogic personal and social code of ethics.”
The yoga centre is located not far from Byron’s main beach, so be sure to go for a post-yoga swim to refresh – trust us, you will work up a sweat!
A visit to Byron Bay is not without spending some time at one of its beautiful beaches. By 11 am the sun was shining so we headed to Wategos on the Northern end of Byron. The water was fresh, but surprisingly not as cold as we thought it would be during the winter months. The crowds were also not as a big as they are in summer, but there still was a nice atmosphere of local beach goers, families and surfers hanging out.
Afterwards, we embarked on the hike up the hill to Byron Bay’s light house. It being much cooler during the winter, it meant the walk to the top was a lot less sweaty and exhausting than doing it during the summer. It was worth reaching the top for the spectacular panoramic views over the pacific ocean, Byron Bay, and all the way to the rolling Hinterland hills.
Located in the small historic town of Newrybar, is Harvest, the Hinterland’s much loved restaurant, deli and bakery. Harvest retains its beautiful country charm with the rustic interiors, while adding hints of contemporary sophistication and innovation with its modern seasonal dishes. The food vegetables are grown form the Harvest’s garden, bread from the onsite bakery, and other fresh produce from local farmers and artisan producers.
For lunch, we chose to share several dishes, a memorable one being the baked sweet potato and macadamia cheese with Davidson’s plum. The dish was not what we expected – and we were impressed. The sweet potato was a creamy puree, and the macadamia cheese was incredible, while the plum sauce added the right amount of zing to compliment the nutty cheese and sweet potato flavours. Other delights we enjoyed were the ballina prawns with pickled seaweed, dooja lime and kelp butter, the roast celeriac, with cumin eucalyptus, ricotta gnudi, fermented grains and the braised sugarloaf cabbage with pandanus vinegar and shaved parmesan.
After Lunch, we started the drive to Rummery Park Campground in the heart of Whian Whian State Conservation Park. The drive, taking about 45 minutes in land, is rather enchanting, as the climate gets a little cooler, and the vegetation gets greener with more thick trees lining the windy roads. This would be our first and only night camping in an unpowered site, in the middle of a national forest. At first it felt a little eerie, but then after setting up the campervan and settling in to the site, the whole experience was really thrilling and enjoyable. We were without phone reception, electricity, proper lighting at night and yes – no flushing toilets! However, Juanita, our glampervan on the journey, came with board games, deck chairs, tables and lights inside for us. The inbuilt fridge made it possible to stock up on snacks and food for dinner.
Rummery Camping Ground is located about two kilometres upstream, from the Minyon Falls lookout. Waking up early, we embarked on the hour walk through the dense lush rainforest along the side of the running river at about 9 am. Being their early was a serene, (and slightly eery) as we were the only ones in the park. The air was still crisp and cool, and the atmosphere was silent, apart from the sound of singing birds in the distant. The view of Minyon Falls is spectacular, and there is the option to embark on the thirteen kilometre track down to the foot of the falls.
About a 20 minute drive from Minyon Falls, is the quaint town of Federal. On the main street is a general store, a coffee shop and roaster called Moonshine Coffee, and a modern Japanese and Australian fusion joint called Doma Cafe. Since 2012, Doma has been operating from within the rustic walls of a renovated timber house, set amongst a lush garden courtyard, serving fantastic food you’d only expect from a swanky city restaurant. That is what makes it so enjoyable – you get the delightful contrast of countryside charm and laid back vibes, while served delicious combination of contemporary Japanese and western food. It makes this cafe a real gem in the heart of the hinterlands, and one worth stopping by on a day trip or on your way to Lismore or Nimbin.
For lunch we tried the zingy Miso eggplant and quinoa salad, the salmon sushi and chicken katsu burger. The flavours of the salad were sweet and fresh, while the different textures of the salmon sushi almost melt in your mouth, it was remarkable. Be sure to check the blackboard inside near the counter for daily specials.
Feeling so impressed with the lunch menu, we had to check out what they did for breakfast…and we kind of wish we didn’t as it sounded incredible. You can expect Aussie classics with a twist, like Bacon and Egg Rolls, Japanese style hash browns and French toast loaded with fresh fruit and bacon. Or try the avocado salsa on toast, the chia porridge or Soba Noodle Salad with Truffle Oil. The coffee was delicious too, but we also couldn’t resist a Stone and Wood Pacific ale after our fantastic tour on Sunday.
After lunch we started on the hour drive up north to Kingscliff, our last stop before flying out of Brisbane back to Sydney. The drive is easier enough once you get on to the Pacific Highway. We stayed at Tweed Coast Holiday Park Kingscliff North which was a very pleasant and smaller park located about a kilometre from the main strip of Kingscliff. Because the park is right on the beach front, makes it the perfect starting point for a late afternoon walk down down the esplanade to the main shops and cafes.
To conclude our six day road trip, we enjoyed a meal at Paper Daisy, at the Halycon House in Cabarita Beach. The open dining space is furnished with Parisian style chairs, timber tables and bookshelves lining the walls. There is a true beach/ocean theme going on here, with interiors splashed with shades of blue and cool creams, and the inside area opening up onto the resort-style patio and pool area.
We started with the fresh wholemeal sourdough with macademia butter and Aperol spritzes – keeping in theme with the summer holiday vibes of the restaurant. Delicious mains include their Radicchio salad with orange, fennel & walnuts,Celeriac poached in almond milk with celery heart & black garlic and Roasted rye noodles with sour tomato, fennel & prawn. Other mouthwatering mains on the menu is their Grilled & glazed fish with lemon aspen, witlof & jerusalem artichoke Caramelised pork neck with davidson plum glaze, oca & radicchio.
That concludes our six day Winter Road trip from the Sunshine Coast to Byron Bay. Thanks again to the awesome guys at Camplify, and Cosy Campers for sending us on the trip in the awesome Glampervan, Juanita. . Spending time up the north NSW Coast and Sunshine Coast during the winter months proved that a holiday here is an adventure any time of the year. The warmer temperatures mean more time to be outdoors and enjoy the beaches, while exploring the region’s diverse and delicious culinary scene, breweries, markets and local communities is an enjoyable experience all year round.
To find out more about Camplify, and find out how you can hire a Caravan, Motorhome or Campervan from just $40pn, head to camplify.com.au. Renters must be 25 years or older.
For more on the places I visited during my travels:
Top Shop – 65 Carlyle Street, Byron Bay NSW – Official Website
Bangalow Markets: Market St, Bangalow NSW – Official Website
Stone and Wood Brewery – 4 Boronia Place, Byron Bay NSW – Official Website
Yoga Flow – 6 Byron Street, Byron Bay NSW – Official Website
Harvest Cafe – 18-22 Old Pacific Highway, Newrybar Village NSW – Official Website
Doma Cafe – 3 Albert Street, Federal, NSW – Offical Website
Paper Daisy – 21 Cypress Crescent, Cabarita Beach, NSW – Official Website
This trip was made possible with the support of Camplify,Destination NSW and Sunshine Coast Tourism.>
Photo credit: Destination NSW