One of my favourite local trails is a drive around the Byron Hinterland, 50 minutes south of the Gold Coast in New South Wales. Just 30 minutes down the highway from home, we often first jump off at the coastal village of Brunswick Heads, where there's plenty of good coffee, shopping and unspoilt natural charm. Last time we tried Pantry No.8 - good Merlo and a quaint ambience. The kids love the inlet park at Brunswick, to stretch their legs and burn off some energy. Personally I love the retro Second Hand Rose Emporium, 2 doors down from Pantry No.8, where I could happily browse for hours.
Back on the road and just another 20 minutes south, Byron Shire favourites abound - a region that takes its food and fresh organic produce very seriously.
There are Farmers Markets galore in the Northern Rivers. Here are just a few well worth a visit in this district;
Alstonville Showgrounds Market - 2nd Sunday of the Month ❤ Ballina Community Market - 3rd Sunday of the Month Circus Ground, Canal Road ❤ Ballina Twilight Market - Every Thursday 4pm-8pm Fawcett Street ❤ Bangalow Farmers’ Market - Every Saturday Behind Bangalow Hotel ❤ Bangalow Village Market - 4th Sunday of the Month - Bangalow Showground (July market pictured below) ❤ Blue Knob Markets - Every Saturday 9am-1pm Blue Knob Hall ❤ Brunswick Heads Market - 1st Saturday of the Month Memorial Park ❤ Byron Bay Community Market - 1st & 3rd Sundays of the Month ❤ Byron Farmers Market - Every Thursday Buttler Street Reserve ❤ Caldera Farmers Market - Every Wednesday Murwillumbah Showgrounds
Harvest Cafe & Deli on the Old Pacific Highway at Newrybar Village is a must stop spot. Open 7 days from 8:30am for breakfast and lunch. Dinners on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings. Their local organic produce is showcased beautifully, with lots of their own-grown greens in side veggie beds (pictured below).
Harvest Cafe has recently refurbished a 99-year old bakery adjoining the Cafe, where an elegant function room caters for special occasions (pic above). The cottage next door houses their deli; larder, cheese cabinet and specialty meat room.
Bangalow Sweet Pork at Alstonville proudly offers 100% Australian pork from the region - award winning, hormone and antibiotic free produce, reminding us all how bacon used to taste and should taste.
A relative new comer to the Byron Hinterland food scene is Lilianas Cafe, 15 minutes from Byron Bay in Possum Creek. I've yet to dine there (hopefully next weekend) but friends and family are singing their praises, especially regarding the food presentation and very special setting. Let us know if you've already been!
Sarah Wheeler’s Pure Melt Chocolate offers handmade organic chocolate produced entirely from scratch and supplies Mullumbimby businesses including D’Lush Deli. She also sells at various local markets - check the website link for more details. Sarah has new chocolate flavours evolving all the time, however chilli and cinnamon, rose and cardamom are just two of her very latest. Eltham Valley Pantry between Lismore and Byron Bay is another hidden treasure well worth a detour, off the beaten track on a picturesque pecan farm Open to the public: Tuesday to Friday 10am - 3pm and Saturday & Sunday 9am - 4pm.
Driving past properties with stunning views, like Sicilian born John and Lyndall's 130 acre orchard on top of Tyagarah Hills is a great highlight of exploring this region by car. So many beautiful farms, it seems anything would grow in such rich red Aussie soil. John and Lyndall have over 200 varieties of tropical and subtropical fruits on their property. Australia's most easterly point, Byron Bay lighthouse off in the distance.
Hope you can make the trip sometime soon too. x