7 lesser known spots to take tourists on the Nth Rivers
THE Queensland "border bubble" expansion and the fact most NSW residents are effectively confined within the state means the Northern Rivers is the place to be for many hailing from either side of the border.
The big ticket items for visitors to the regions, and those holidaying at home, can be obvious, from spotless beaches to gin distilleries.
Below the surface, however, there are plenty of lesser-known things to enjoy across the region.
1. Soak up more remote waterfalls
Minyon Falls is well known but located in a more remote part of the region, Hanging Rock Falls is a beautiful place to visit.
Located on Williams Rd in Barkers Vale, the waterfall is easy to access and sits in a lush, quiet setting.
This location, near the main route between Kyogle and Uki, is perfect for a picnic but signs at the site warn visitors of the dangers of swimming there after drowning deaths in 2015 and 2010.
2. Make something beautiful
The beauty nature gives us is a cornerstone of the Northern Rivers' appeal.
And the region's talent in the floral industry has helped to secure its status as a top region for glamorous, gorgeous weddings and events.
Locals and visitors alike can engage with the materials and minds behind some of this beauty with a creative workshop, like those offered at Pikt Flowers on Myocum Rd, near Byron Bay.
The business, run from a third-generation farm just minutes off the highway, offers a floral class where you can learn tips of the trade including bouquet techniques, garland and wreath-making skills and more.
3. Explore the waterways by kayak
It's in the name: the Northern Rivers explored by any form of watercraft is an easy recipe for a great day out.
There's a particular beauty, though, in the serenity of a river explored without a motor.
On a kayak or canoe, you can explore the region's waterways while chalking up some exercise.
Great places include the Brunswick River (launch from the boat ramps in Mullumbimby or Brunswick Heads), the Tweed River (try any boat ramp between Murwillumbah and Tweed Heads), Terranora Inlet, Lake Ainsworth, or the Evans River.
4. Get sky-high
After you connect with nature down low on the river, go higher to see the valleys and downs from a different view.
Border Ranges National Park has a wealth of options for short or longer hikes, perched on the edge of the state.
If you're not up for the walk, there are some great views you can simply drive to, like Blackbutts Lookout.
Also check out the stunning Cambridge Plateau scenic drive on Richmond Range National Park, between Casino and Kyogle.
5. Hike in the dark
The Northern Rivers has a wealth of wildlife but many of the region's creatures are nocturnal.
This can make it difficult to find them in the wild, but this is made easier when you hike in the dark.
Vision Walks Eco Tours run night-time wildlife experiences, complete with night vision goggles so you can see critters like possums, pademelons, bandicoots, tawny frogmouth and more with ease.
The company also hosts daytime tours, including to Minyon Falls.
6. Lap up the fresh seafood
There's nothing quite like enjoying local seafood when you're on the coast.
The North Coast is blessed to have the fruits of the sea available at their freshest.
In Ballina, take advantage of the Co-Op or other stores near the Big Prawn to enjoy the best the town has to offer.
In Tweed Heads, you can sometimes still get prawns fresh off the trawlers, or there's a wealth of seafood outlets around the town.
7. Support a local business
Many of them need it now more than ever, and it's one of the simplest choices you can make to improve a visitor's impact when they stay on the Northern Rivers.
In any direction, on and off the main drags, there are countless towns and villages filled with small shops and boutique cafes.
Locally owned businesses give back to the communities they're a part of, and especially in light of the impacts of COVID-19, they need all the support they can get.
So wherever you take the loved ones visiting the Northern Rivers, share the love with some of the many small businesses that help to make our region what it is.