Bangalow takes everything great about its coastal sister of Byron Bay – including a passion for food, a tight-knit creative community, and a love for the great outdoors – and distils it into a laid-back package befitting this hinterland setting. The main street is a postcard-perfect line-up of historic Federation-style buildings, today home to innovative eateries that hero local produce.
The great outdoors
This small town, 15 minutes inland from Byron on the North Coast of NSW, enjoys an idyllic setting surrounded by farmland – all fruit and macadamia orchards, groves of Bangalow palms and rolling fields with wide-eyed cows. It’s wrapped in rainforest, with hiking trails leading to waterfalls, and lookouts offering glimpses of the Pacific Ocean.
Located on the eastern edge of town, just off the main street, Bangalow Parklands is a cool, green haven replete with towering pine trees enveloping a swimming weir. Dive in, wander through forest or spread out a picnic rug while kids burn off some energy in the playground.
The other way to cool down is by taking a dip in the natural pool at the base of Minyon Falls in Nightcap National Park. Admire the 100-metre drop from the escarpment to the forest floor, then hike down through World Heritage-listed forest – Nightcap is part of the UNESCO Gondwana Rainforests of Australia, and it’s just a 30-minute drive from Bangalow.
The surrounding fields also grow coffee, which you can sip at establishments like Zentveld's Coffee Farm and Roastery or Butcher Baker Bangalow, where beans are roasted by local crew Unity, and where every loaf of bread and flaky pastry is made daily on-site. If you prefer to sip craft beers, Common People is a new brewery operated by a crew of Northern Rivers locals. The oh-so-cool Woods cafe (sister to Byron’s hipster hangout Folk) is filled with recycled timber and pot plants, its chefs preparing tasty plates almost too pretty to eat.
Pioneering no-waste chef Matt Stone opened You Beauty in mid-2022, promising a classic European bistro with a farm-to-table ethos. It’s just around the corner from his woodfired pizza and pasta bar, Ciao Mate! Red Ginger, meanwhile, would not look out of place in downtown Shanghai, the store’s shelves stocked with Oriental objects and teas, which you can pick up to take home after a yum-cha feast.
Ten minutes south of Bangalow is Newrybar, a tiny village that’s worth a visit for breakfast or lunch. It’s home to the famous Harvest Newrybar, a cafe, bakery and deli spread across three beautifully restored historic buildings. The Little General serves great coffee and lots of local goodies. There’s also the Newrybar Eats and Produce Markets every Wednesday if you want to meet some of the farmers and growers.
More food awaits at Bangalow Market, which transforms the town’s tree-lined showgrounds on the fourth Sunday of every month. This is an epic gathering of bakers, makers, viticulturists, farmers and friends, with piles of seasonal produce to peruse, as well as arts, crafts and fashion.
In between eateries, Bangalow’s main street is dotted with independent boutiques. Visit Island Luxe for covetable homewares and furniture with a Nordic twist; Johansen for women’s fashion in an earthy palette; and Wax Jumbu Emporium for everything from clothing and jewellery to crockery crafted by local artisans. Our Corner Store is an effortlessly cool take on its classic namesake edifice, stocked with simple and beautiful pieces for around the home and garden.
The Shed, Newrybar
Festivals & events
The only time the sounds of the rainforest are drowned out is during the Bangalow Music Festival, an annual celebration of chamber music attracting acclaimed classical musicians from around the world. It’s held here every August – at other times of the year, catch a local musician (or one of the area’s rock-star residents) at the Bangalow Bowling Club or Bangalow Hotel.
Back at the showgrounds is September’s Sample Food Festival, a culinary extravaganza uniting food stalls from restaurants and producers with pop-up bars, masterclasses, cook-offs and celebrity chef appearances.
When you arrive, accommodation offeringsrange from grand estates with views over the hinterland to chic villas, cosy cottages, peaceful retreats and historic guesthouses. Perched atop a sprawling macadamia plantation, the elegant Hinterland House offers stunning views across the mountains, and comes fitted out with a pool, fire pit and large wrap-around porches. For rustic country charm, head to Forget Me Not Farm Cottages for a home-away-from-home stay in repurposed 19th-century workers' cottages.
Bangalow is an 8.5-hour drive north of Sydney or just a two-hour drive south of Brisbane. If you prefer someone else to navigate, catch the train to the nearby town of Casino, and connect via bus. Alternatively, fly into Ballina Byron Gateway Airport, 20 minutes away, or the Gold Coast Airport, 45 minutes away
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