TOURIST DRIVE 28
Enjoy a change of pace and discover the charm of the Ballina & Byron hinterland.
This stunning drive is reminiscent of the Tuscan countryside where you will find something special around every corner. A working farm, quaint historic villages, artist studios, and plenty of divine cafes and B&B's.
Fill your basket with fresh local produce from one of the many roadside produce stalls along the way. If National Parks with rainforest and waterfalls also appeal to you, then this scenic drive offers so much to see and do.
Allow at least six hours to experience the array of attractions along this 70km tourist drive however a full day is suggested. The official attractions are indicated by the white on brown tourist drive signage, other attractions with the # symbol are Visitor Centre recommendations.
Take the Mullumbimby exit off the Pacific Highway at Gulgan Road, heading for the town centre of Australia’s ‘biggest little town’. The town lies at the foot of Mt Chincogan in the Brunswick Valley. Take in the street vibe and experience the music from one of the many buskers.
CRYSTAL CASTLE & SHAMBHALA GARDENS
To get to Crystal Castle & Shambhala Gardens, follow the signs for 8.3kms along Coolamon Scenic Drive. Walk amongst the gods in the stunning gardens and rainforest. Touch the World Peace Stupa, find yourself in an ancient labyrinth, and indulge in delicious coffee and food while enjoying the magnificent views over the hinterland. The Crystal Castle is a must visit for those seeking a health and wellbeing experience.
# Minyon Falls (16kms via Goonenary) is a plunge waterfall descending more than 100 metres over the huge rhyolite cliffs which were once part of the Tweed Volcano. The large viewing platform, offering views down to the base of the falls, is easily accessible from the carpark. There are picnic tables to sit and enjoy the surroundings and a range of short to medium tracks for the experienced walker so you can access the base of the waterfall. Please note this is a 27km detour from the official Tourist Drive but well worth the time.
Return to the Hinterland Way via Coolamon Scenic Drive (27kms), turn left and enjoy the breathtaking 360-degree view encapsulating the Byron Lighthouse, Mt Chincogan, Mt Warning and green pastures from Scarabelloti's Lookout.
Continue along Hinterland Way for 6kms until you reach the Bangalow exit. A detour off the official Tourist Drive will take you to the township of # Bangalow. Here you can enjoy some retail therapy and sample the delicious local produce at one of the award winning eateries. Bangalow is one of those country gems. A picturesque, largely nineteenth-century streetscape of tall verandahed buildings, shady trees and quiet parks.
Take the time to explore the popular historic village of Newrybar, filled with old world charm, antiques and artisan shopping. It's a quaint hamlet village nestled in the hinterland above Lennox Head and home to Australia’s oldest bakery that incorporates a well-known eatery and deli. Newrybar is 6kms south of Bangalow along the Hinterland Way.
THE MACADAMIA CASTLE
Get up close and personal with Australian wildlife and reptiles at The Macadamia Castle and enjoy the live interactive shows and enjoy the opportunity to touch and hold the animals. Sample the range of fresh hot roasted macadamia nuts and be sure to order their famous pancakes topped with nuts and ice-cream. The Macadamia Castle is 3.5kms south of Newrybar along the Hinterland Way.
TINTENBAR AND TEVEN
Drive from The Macadamia Castle to Tintenbar (6.8kms) and Teven, a further 3.5kms, stopping at the roadside stalls to stock up on farm fresh produce. From Tintenbar, detouring off Tourist Drive 28 to the north along Friday Hut Road will allow you to explore # Killen Waterfalls, # red door ceramic studio, and macadamia plantations. The extra 18km loop would bring you to # Brooklet, # Fenleigh and then back to Tintenbar.
Alstonville is an Aladdin’s cave for curio hunters and culture buffs, with its historic buildings, classic Australian federation architecture, antique shops, galleries and cafes. Throughout the surrounding plateau are subtropical parks and gardens with the iconic Tibouchina blossoms showing their brilliant display of violet purple flowers in late summer and autumn. The drive between Tintenbar through Teven to Alstonville is 9kms.
SUMMERLAND HOUSE FARM
Learn about our regional produce at Summerland House Farm, a working macadamia and avocado plantation set in the hills of the Alstonville Plateau. The farm has a Tractor Farm Tour, Mini Golf, Water Park and Children's Playground. ‘The Grocer’ a regional food showcase, Cafe, Nursery, Gift Shop and Museum. If you are visiting the area, Summerland House Farm is a ‘must do’ experience and a memorable, inspiring organisation. The licenced café is known for their High Teas! The property is a 3km journey from Alstonville's Main Street via Wardell Road.
VICTORIA PARK NATURE RESERVE
Escape to Victoria Park Nature Reserve, one of the last remnants of the Big Scrub, the rainforest prominent to the natural landscape of the Northern Rivers region, and walk the short 300m boardwalk to see over 150 species of trees including White Booyongs, Red Beans, Morton Bay Figs and the extremely rare jointed Baloghia. It's a 7km journey from Summerland House Farm to Victoria Park via Dalwood.
The drive, 13kms from Victoria Park to Wardell, takes in spectacular rural vistas as it rises to the top of the Alstonville Plateau along Wardell Road.
Upstream on the Richmond River, the river village of Wardell boasts historic timber buildings including Mayley House (1910) and other 20th century constructions. Grab a freshly baked bulging top pie from the local pie store, wander over to the jetty and admire the historic Wardell Lift Span Bridge.
Download a copy of the self-guided Wardell Walkabout Heritage Trail from discoverballina.com. This is the end point of your hinterland discovery via the signposted Tourist Drive 28. However the drive to # South Ballina over the Lift Span Bridge and along the Richmond River, before taking the Burns Point Vehicle Ferry back to Ballina is a highly recommended scenic journey.
ADDRESSES FOR GPS
Mullumbimby Town Centre, Burringbar Street, Mullumbimby NSW 2482
Crystal Castle & Shambhala Gardens, 81 Monet Drive Mullumbimby NSW 2482
Minyon Falls, Minyon Falls Road, Nightcap National Park, Repentance Creek NSW 2480
Scarabelloti's Lookout, Coolamon Scenic Drive, McLeods Shoot NSW 2479
Bangalow Town Centre, Byron St, Bangalow NSW 2479
Historic Village of Newrybar, Old Pacific Hwy, Newrybar NSW 2479
The Macadamia Castle, 419 Hinterland Way, Knockrow NSW 2479
Village of Tintenbar, Tintenbar Road, Tintenbar NSW 2478
Alstonville Town Centre, Main Street, Alstonville NSW 2478
Summerland House Farm, 253 Wardell Rd, Alstonville NSW 2477
Victoria Park Nature Reserve, Victoria Park Road, Dalwood NSW 2477
Wardell Town Centre, Richmond Street, Wardell NSW 2477