|Ballina - Murwillumbah|
|Far North Coast|
As the Pacific Highway winds its way towards Queensland, the scene becomes more sub-tropical. This far north coast region is particularly attractive, with beautiful beaches backed by cane fields and lush rainforested hills.
North of Coffs Harbour, the highway sweeps inland to Grafton - the ‘City of Jacarandas’ on the Clarence River. Big rivers around Grafton set the pace for focus on water activities with everything from flatwater canoeing to the most challenging whitewater rafting. Beyond here lie the gentler paced beach and fishing resorts of Iluka, Yamba and Evans Head.
Further north you then reach Ballina, on the Richmond River and another popular holiday resort. There are great beaches in the area, you can surf, fish and visit the Big Prawn, located beside the highway. Just out of town, the Thursday Tea Tree Oil Plantation is worth a visit.
The best is yet to come, however! Turn off the highway beyond Ballina and take the coast road to the small surfing village of Lennox Head, then continue to Byron Bay - the gem of this far north coast region. Alternative-lifestyle ‘Byron’ is deservedly famous for its beautiful beaches and excellent surf. There are some wonderful cafes and restaurants, a good range of crafts shops, plenty of walks and a host of outdoor adventures - the diving here is particularly good. From Byron you can take enjoyable excursions inland to charming villages like Bangalow and Mullumbimby.
The highway then passes the fishing centre of Brunswick Heads before turning inland to the sugar cane country around Murwillumbah. There’s lots to see and do here - visit the World Heritage Rainforest Centre and a sugar mill or, if you’re feeling energetic, take the challenging walk to the top of Mount Warning. The views are nothing short of sensational!
Beyond Murwillumbah, Tweed Heads is the last New South Wales town before the highway heads across the border into Queensland.
Where to Stay
Time required: 2 - 3 days are needed to really explore the area