They call Kyogle, in the Northern Rivers region of the NSW far North Coast, the Gateway to the Rainforest. This charming hinterland town began life as a timber camp in the 1830s and is a great base for exploring nearby UNESCO World Heritage rainforest and the tiny villages built around them.
Rainforest and national parks
Enjoy leisurely drives to magnificent national parks in the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area – Richmond Range, Toonumbar, Border Ranges, Wollumbin and Nightcap. Wander through ancient rainforest on walking trails, and discover rainforest birds and other native wildlife.
In the Toonumbar National Park, northwest of Kyogle, you’ll see peaks from the eroded remains of a shield volcano which erupted 23 million years ago. Take the Murray Scrub walking track to a towering stand of old growth red cedar. You’ll hear the calls of very rare birds on this 5.5km loop.
North of Kyogle is the Border Loop walk in the Border Ranges National Park. The 1.5km circuit from the lookout meanders through rainforest where koalas doze. About 400 metres below the lookout is the historic Border or Spiral Loop, the first standard gauge railway that linked Sydney and Brisbane.
Villages to visit
Follow the pretty half-day Tabulam scenic drive to visit the village of Tabulam. You’ll cross the Clarence River onto Australia’s longest single-span timber truss bridge. Woodenbong is close to the Queensland border. Browse handmade gifts at Country Brushstrokes and tee off at the Woodenbong and District Golf Club.
Camping and fishing
You can pitch your tent at the tranquil Iron Pot Creek campground, near the start of the Murray Scrub trail that winds past Bangalow palms and strangler figs to the red cedar. There are picnic tables and other amenities, and the pristine creek with crystal-clear waterholes is a swimming paradise.
The creek flows into Toonumbar Dam, a popular spot for fishing and boating next to the Richmond Range National Park. You can walk across the dam wall - it’s 229 metres long and 44 metres high. The lake is regularly stocked with bass and there is a boat ramp at Bells Bay, 3km north of the dam wall.
Getting there and where to stay
Kyogle is an eight-hour drive north of Sydney and 2hr 40min from Brisbane. You can catch the train direct from Sydney to Kyogle and the journey takes around 12 hours. Or fly into Ballina Byron Gateway Airport, 1hr 15min away. You’ll find places to stay that suit various budgets. The Commercial Hotel has refurbished rooms and its own bowling alley!