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The Northern Rivers region is on the far North Coast of New South Wales, stretching from Grafton to Tweed at the Queensland border.


Map of Northern Rivers

  • 1 Alstonville
  • 2 Ballina
  • 3 Byron Bay - once an alternative lifestyle town, now a booming beachfront destination, firmly on the backpacker and seachanger route
  • 4 Casino - "Beef capital of Australia"
  • 5 Grafton – city of Jacaranda trees on the Clarence River
  • 6 Lismore - largest town in the region
  • 7 Murwillumbah
  • 8 Nimbin – alternative community in the Byron/Lismore hinterland
  • 9 Ocean Shores
  • 10 Tweed Heads – the southern, low-rise, and more family friendly end of the Gold Coast
  • 11 Yamba – what Byron Bay used to be
  • 12 Kyogle

Other destinations[edit]


The Northern Rivers is a region on the North Coast of New South Wales and has a variety of beaches, rivers, world heritage listed rainforests and rural scenery. The region has seven different shires with a diverse range of unique towns and villages.


The Northern Rivers has a history of Italian settlement and the locality of New Italy was settled in 1882 by Italian pioneers who attempted to cultivate the area's difficult interior, while additional phases of migration followed in the 1920s and again with the post-World War II influx of European migrants anxious to escape their war-ravaged country. They typically leased hilly land from local farmers on which they cultivated bananas, moving to other trades when the local banana industry declined when refrigeration and better transport links facilitated the supply of cheaper competition from Queensland.

Get in[edit]

There are flights to/from Sydney and Grafton from Lismore Regional Airport (LSY IATA). There are train stations in Casino and Kyogle that are serviced by the Brisbane to Sydney train, as well as coach services to other regional towns.

Get around[edit]

Many backpackers catch the coaches that ply the Brisbane to Sydney route.

Passenger trains no longer directly service most of the region.

If you want to get outside of the main centres, then you will need a car, or to take a tour. Public Transport is limited however the following should allow a more adventurous traveller to get around.

Buslines Group provide public transport to Ballina, Lismore, Casino, Kyogle, Evans Head, Woodburn and Coraki. They also provide less frequent connections to Grafton and Tenterfield. Study the timetable before travelling and be sure you won't be stranded. Most of the drivers are fairly friendly and the buses are in radio contact with each other so connections should be fairly easily made.

Blanch's bus company provide service to Ballina, Lennox Head, Byron Bay, Bangalow and Mullumbimby. Services on Route 640 at least are around every 2 hours on weekdays and Saturdays at least during daylight hours. The Sunday service exists however it is limited.

There are numerous other operators who run school buses around the region. These allow regular passengers however the primary drawback is they are only running at school times.


The Northern Rivers is home to 5 World Heritage Listed National Parks, the most bio-diverse region in Australia and stunningly beautiful

The beaches in this area are beautiful, and worth exploring. Take the tourist drive from Murwillumbah to Tweed Heads – this will take you through the Tweed River, as well as the coastal areas.


  • Tweed Tourism Inc (Tweed Heads, Murwillumbah and Kingscliff Visitor Information Centres), PO Box 19, Tweed Heads NSW 2485, +61 7 5536 6737. Operating the Visitor Information Centres at Tweed Heads, Kingscliff and Murwillumbah. Maps, posters and souvenirs. Accommodation, tour and cruise booking service. Murwillumbah and Tweed Heads Centres open 7 days. Kingscliff Centre open Wednesday to Sunday. or Phone 1800 674 414 (within Australia only)


The type of food offered in the Northern Rivers varies by city and town, so not every place has something that will suit your tastebuds. The town of Casino is well known for its beef and the town markets itself as the "beef capital of Australia", while other cities like Ballina or Byron Bay are well known for its seafood.

Those on vegetarian, halal or kosher diets won't find it too difficult to find food that suits them in larger towns like Byron Bay, but might find it harder in towns like Casino.


Stay safe[edit]

Always swim between the flags

Crime is not a huge problem in most of the Northern Rivers, but is significantly much more of a problem than it is compared to the rest of New South Wales. Drink spiking is something that commonly occurs in Byron Bay, and one should be aware of it. See Byron Bay#Stay safe for more about this, while other towns such as Nimbin get much worse where illegal drugs are sold openly, and is a common spot for police checks, and arguably, is possibly the most dangerous town in the state.

Go next[edit]

This region travel guide to Northern Rivers is a usable article. It gives a good overview of the region, its sights, and how to get in, as well as links to the main destinations, whose articles are similarly well developed. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.