Five reasons coasties should head west
HEAD west, coasties!
Eighty-five per cent of Australians live within 50km of the coast, most in the cities and country coastlines on the Northern Rivers attract thousands of residents and tourists.
The coastline is stunning, lengths of curved beaches lapping their waves to the shore and when visitors come to the area, the first place they want to go is Byron Bay, mainly because they know it.
Byron Bay has a brand. Byron Bay is a brand.
When my sister and her son from Adelaide came north, they were keen to visit Byron.
We walked to the lighthouse, across steep cliffs on easy walkways leading up to the bright, white lighthouse where we enjoyed a mango ice cream before our descent.
There were lots of people doing the same thing, and when we went to a restaurant in town for dinner, we were told it would be an hour and a half wait.
Same at the next restaurant, and only half an hour at the third one we tried.
Eventually we settled for a mediocre hamburger joint that was packed but we could at least get a table.
The streets of Byron were filled with tourists having the Byron Experience.
Do these tourists go west and explore beyond the bay?
Here are five reasons residents and tourists need to head west for a visit.
1. It's not far
Kyogle is less than an hour and a half from Byron.
It is less than an hours to drive to Coraki and an hour and a quarter to Casino. Add an extra half-hour from Casino and you hit the village of Mallanganee. Take a day trip, crank up you favourite music and hit the road.
2. The drive is stunning
This is not an exaggeration. Soft green hills, farmland with cows finally munching green grass and country towns with wide streets and plenty of parking. The Richmond Range at Mallanganee is breath taking and offers views across the sparsely populated valleys.
3. The people are friendly
When I say friendly, I mean super friendly. Walk into any pub or shop, they'll say g'day and be genuinely interested in where you're from and why you're visiting their town.
4. The food is awesome
Paddock to Plate isn't a food trend out here, it's a lifestyle.
Farmers on the land eking out a living, see them at the saleyards, in their element buying and selling cattle. In Casino, the steak is always good and unbelievably affordable, And guess what, you'll only have to wait ten minutes for your meal.
5. The feel-good factor
Richmond Valley, Kyogle and Clarence Valley have suffered years of drought and then months of bushfires.
While the rains have come and made parts of the area look more like Ireland than Australia, small businesses and cafes need your financial input.
Spend the night at one of the pubs, eat out, your money spent in these rural towns will be appreciated. Plus you get a good feed and have a fabulous time.
• Find out where to go at the Richmond Valley Tourist Information Centre in Casino or the Visitor Information Centre in Kyogle.
SO MANY places to visit, so little time. Here's a few to start on.
Kyogle: pretty shops
BlackBerry Wren is a boutique shop with upcylced, revamped vintage furniture and mirrors. The shop owner makes frilly bloomers and flowery overalls. She also grows her own roses which fill the pretty shop with a beautiful scent.
Mallanganee: what a view
Little Cambridge cafe sits atop Mallanganee overlooking the Cambridge Plateau and Richmond Ranges. The cafe offers delights such as Tim Tam cheesecakes and the best slow cooked home made food you've had for a long time. This is such a popular spot your have to book in advance.
Casino: art deco treat
There's a lot of art deco buildings in Casino. Start with the Post Office on Barker St with its imposing pillars. The Casino Historical Society have put up signs and created a history walk through the town.
Coraki: relax by the river
Take your pick of the pub for a beer, the bakery for a bun or one of the cafes for a coffee. All of them are on Coraki's main street facing two rivers. I defy you not to relax.
Casino: buy and sell cows
The theatre of the Casino saleyards is a sight if you've never witnessed it before. Rock up early Wednesday morning and see farmers buying and selling cattle at auction.
What are your waiting for?