Longboards, backpackers and the most powerful lighthouse in Australia keeping a watchful eye over us all like a proud circling Sea Eagle; it really is an Endless Summer in Byron. For those looking for some respite from the surf, where else can you explore near Byron Bay? You’ll be pleased to hear there are some mouth-watering nature escapes just a hop, skip and a rock jump away.
Minyon Falls - Nightcap National Park (45 minutes drive from Byron Bay)
A 45 minute drive from Byron Bay can land you in this World Heritage listed adventure paradise. Home to the traditional Widjabul People the area features heavily within Aboriginal dreaming stories and its spiritual nature is almost tangible here. If only those ancient eucalyptus trees could speak…
Did you know: Nightcap National Park has the highest rainfall compared to anywhere else in New South Wales. Approximately 2500mm per annum.
As the saying goes though, with great rain comes great waterfalls, and Minyon Falls is an iconic one that you should definitely chase down.
The pot at the end of Minyon Falls’ rainbow is a plunge pool so stunning no artist could ever re-create its incredible beauty. It’s best reached via the 7.5km / 4.5hr Minyon Loop track, a gloriously steep meander through lush tropical vegetation in what feels like a wildlife sanctuary.
Ranger’s Tip: With great rain also comes great responsibility – it is essential to check weather conditions and pack accordingly for any excursion to a waterfall or swimming hole.
Protester Falls - Nightcap National Park (1 hour 15 minutes from Byron Bay)
If you like your waterfall experience with a side salad of history, then Protestor Falls should satisfy your appetite. On 16 August 1974, over a 100 people formed human barricades at Terania Creek to prevent tree-felling bulldozers and police from ploughing down the rainforest, effectively saving the falls that we get to enjoy today. One word: legends.
Ranger’s Tip: If you do intend to swim in the plunge pool, try to avoid using insect repellent or sunscreen wherever possible as this can contaminate the pristine water.
Bundjalung National Park (40 minutes from Byron Bay)
Stretching for 40km along the coastline, this national park boasts secluded beaches, endless sand dunes, wetlands, freshwater lakes and headlands (otherwise known as the perfect explorer’s cocktail). There’s one microadventure that’ll definitely float your boat too; paddling the tea-tree lined Jerusalem Creek for 4.6km and staying overnight at Black Rocks Campground.
Broken Head Nature Reserve (20 minutes from Byron Bay)
A short 10km escape from the backpacker-opolis of Byron is its fun older cousin; a secluded adventure sanctuary that’s entrenched in Aboriginal heritage. Once you’ve waded through the steep sub-tropical rainforest to reach one of the secluded bays, let the exploring commence. The rockpools and caves around the beaches here are also incredible. Make sure to do the Three Sisters Walking Track (not to be confused with the Blue Mountains FYI!), a 1.6km return loop that’ll have you mesmerised by its beauty. Oh, and you’ll regret not packing a picnic if you don’t – just saying.
Whilst there is strictly no camping in the Byron coast area national parks, here are some Accommodation options if you’re looking to spend a night, or three here.
Mebbin National Park (1 hour 30 minutes from Byron Bay)
The volcanic landscape and dramatic backdrop of this lesser-known national park make it especially alluring to those looking for somewhere away from the madding crowd. Hiking and mountain biking are some options you have here, so base yourself at Cutters Camp campground and let the good times roll.
Many rare and exotic birds and reptiles call this park home. ‘Stephen’s banded snake’ is one such tree-dwelling habitant. He’s not just a missing pet snake belonging to a distraught local boy called Stephen, it is in fact a snake species in its own right.
When you’ve really earned it (and I mean really earned it), the pleasure one feels when a cold drink passes the lips is indescribable. Stone and Wood Brewing Company’s motto is “Born and raised in Byron Bay, brewed and bottled in the Northern Rivers” – their brewery is a great place to finish off a trip to this region, pop in for a tasting paddle and a tour of the brewery. It goes without saying of course that the designated driver should not exceed the legal consumption limit.