The NSW North Coast has a lot going for it, from the surfie town of Byron Bay to the hills of Nightcap National Park. But if we let you in on a little secret, there’s more to see and do in this area than you might think – especially for kids.
What the North Coast lacks in theme parks it makes up for in natural attractions. There are loads of quiet beaches and national parks to explore, and even an extinct volcano you can climb if you’re fit enough. For those who want an active trip, head out horse riding on the beach with Pegasus Park, go mountain biking through the scrub with Mountain Bike Tours, or learn to surf with Let’s Go Surfing Byron Bay.
There are also some great family tourist towns all up and down the coast, from Kingscliff just near the Queensland border down to Byron Bay, Yamba and Evans Head. If you like camping, pick one of the beachfront parks so you can wake up to the sound of the surf – North Coast Holiday Parks are usually a good option.
On the highway in between Ballina and Byron Bay, make a pit stop at Macadamia Castle. You’ll recognise it straight away for its medieval ramparts and giant knight in shining armour. Inside, there are all sorts of flavours of macadamia nuts, a petting zoo, putt-putt golf and an adventure playground.
In Brunswick Heads, a small fishing town on the north side of Byron, it’s always busy but still feels really chilled. There are some awesome cafes and restaurants, in particular Yami’s and The Terrace. For the best dining experience here, the locals recommend you grab some fish and chips from Starfish and eat it in the riverside park.
There’s a local hire service renting out kayaks and canoes, making it easy to explore the river. If you’re fearless, join the other local kids jumping off the bridge at high tide, or head down to Torakina, a safe swimming beach just near the mouth of the Bruns River.
Byron Bay is the star destination of the area, especially if you’re a surfing fan. Join the locals at The Pass for an easy wave, or if you’re more advanced head round to Cosy Corner. For all the non-surfers, you’ll still have plenty to see and do with trendy shops, cool cafes, and plenty of awesome people-watching spots. Make time for the lighthouse walk, which passes up along the foreshore, over the rocky headland and up to the cape.
A short drive inland is Mount Warning, the remnant of a long extinct volcano that once covered much of the area. Bushwalkers scale the lofty mountain just before dawn to see the first sun as it hits the east coast of Australia. The climb is fairly easy and only takes a couple of hours, but at the end you’ll need to pull yourself up using chains, which is a bit more challenging. Still, it’s seriously worth it.
If you want a quiet holiday where you just spend time with your friends, Yamba and Evans Head are the best places. Both have a laidback vibe that seems to make your holidays last longer. To get the lay of the land, head out on one of Shane’s Famous 10 Buck tours which leave daily from the YHA Hostel. Shane will take you on a tour of the town, show you the best beaches to surf or chill and over to Blue Pools, where if you dare you can scale the adjacent cliffs and jump in.
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