Fly into the Gold Coast – Coolangatta Airport – from NZ I caught a direct flight from Christchurch. Then hire a car and head South. Before you know it you are in NSW, head away from the high rises on the waterfront towards more laid back beaches of northern NSW.
The Northern Rivers of NSW is lush and large rivers empty into the sea, providing a perfect base for holidays, and exploring. The surf keeps on rolling in from the Pacific, making it a popular surfing spot. Or head up the rivers for an inland experience.
Byron Bay is the most well known beach, and it is also the busiest. You pay for parking everywhere, if you can find a park. On my first day I found a park, and forgot about the paying for parking part of the deal. Luckily I got back to the car just as the ticket man was coming down the road.
Before that I managed the best body surfing I have ever had – confession here – I am not a great body surfer. But at Byron Bay I caught every wave before it broke, and surfed into shore. Head up to the Lighthouse for some great views on this, the most eastern piece of land in Australia. Walk or cycle if you can J – not much parking there.
Accommodation at Ocean Shores
We are staying at Ocean Shores in The Surf Shack – just what it says. Cheap and easy going stay with Ian. Very friendly – your own upstairs space with two rooms, and potential for more to stay. You have your own fridge and access to the kitchen to cook.
North of Ocean Shores is the small coastal settlement of New Brighton – worth the drive – every Tuesday morning a great little Farmers Market The Yum Yum Tree Café is a fantastic – excellent coffee, and I loved The Frenchie for Breakfast.
If it is busy on the main beaches, head there at full tide and park under a tree beside the river, and swim among the mangroves. When the tide goes out cross the road and over the sand dunes to the beach. No parking problems here.
My sort of town – a few great shops to browse, good coffee, and no charges for parking. Swim in the river as the tide comes in – beautiful and clear. Lots of people around, but not teeming like Byron. Rent a kayak or SUP and head up Simpson’s Creek on the tide, and then let the current take you back down. We took floaties and put in up river as the tide was turning – a very leisurely float down the river. Lots of fun – though my knees got sunburnt! Bicycles can be hired at the Reflections Holiday park and it is a great way to get around – no parking problems and some excellent off road cycle lanes connect the beaches J The holiday park is on Simpsons Creek that runs into Brunswick River – great swimming, and right beside the small town.
At night remember The Brunswick hotel has great live music in the evening outside under umbrellas.
Lots of towns and beaches to explore
- Bangalow – with its main street of old buildings
- Byron Bay – shops shops shops
- Brunswick Heads – manageable
- Beaches too crowded – head along the rivers as the tide is coming in
Cruise up the River
Byron Bay Cruises offer morning and evening trips from Brunswick Heads marina, and a longer trips with kayaking, but they were not busy enough to go the time I wanted to. A shame as I was looking forward to heading up the river.