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Lismore is the capital of culture of the Northern Rivers region on the NSW far North Coast. But then, it’s so much more than that. Set on the banks of the Wilsons River, this pretty country town has transformed from a dairying community into the vibrant gateway to one of the State’s most beautiful regions.
Art and culture
You’ll find art all around you in Lismore. There are sculptures along the riverbank on the Wilsons River Experience Walk. For cutting-edge street art, wander the laneways of the Back Alley Gallery to see more than 60 works. The city has a rich musical culture too. One famous Lismore success story is the rock band Grinspoon, formed here in 1995.
A great way to experience the galleries, vintage stores and markets is on the Arts, Vintage and Retro Trail, a walk that includes street art and the Lismore Regional Gallery. The gallery has an impressive permanent collection, with works by Margaret Olley (another Lismore local), Jon Molvig, Peter Powditch, Lloyd Rees, Albert Namatjira and Thea Proctor.
The fabulous events calendar features theatre, performing arts and concerts year round. Join the fun of the Lismore Lantern Parade Festival, held on or around every Winter solstice, the longest night of the year. This event celebrates art, nature and community with a parade featuring illuminated puppets, fire art and pyrotechnics.
Eat and drink
If all this art makes you hungry, browse the weekly Lismore Organic Market. The region’s volcanic soils produce a range of delicious produce, including macadamia, avocado, stone fruit, blueberries, coffee, beef, pork and dairy. Taste the town’s growing foodie scene at Bircher Bar or The Dirty Wilson, and stop for cocktails at live music lounge Dusty Attic.
Aside from its thriving cultural scene, this is a place of great natural beauty, surrounded by the free-flowing Wilsons River and national parks. UNESCO World Heritage-listed rainforest can be found just north of Lismore. And a short drive south, you can spot koalas in the wild in the Tucki Tucki Nature Reserve or tour the Koala Care Centre.
Getting there and where to stay
Lismore is an eight-hour drive north of Sydney and 2hr 20min south of Brisbane. You can also catch a train from Sydney to Casino and then a coach to Lismore, with the whole journey taking around 12hr 30min. Or fly into Ballina Byron Gateway Airport, just 40min away. Lismore is a great base for the region with a huge range of accommodation to suit all budgets.