'I live in the Byron Bay hinterland. These are the secret holiday spots the locals visit.'

My Insta DMs have been clogged lately with queries about the 'beautiful spots' where I spend my days, asking for insider knowledge of their whereabouts. 

Truth be told, having only called the Northern Rivers home for four years now, there is still a large part of me that feels less local, and more wide-eyed wanderer, even in my own backyard. 

That said, since becoming a mother to my now two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, I have found myself marvelling at the magic of our home surrounds — emphasising to anyone travelling to Byron Bay that they must hire a car, because they mustn’t miss out on all the incredible local gems you just can't stumble upon by foot in the town. 

Yes, there is plenty to do in Byron Bay proper... but there is something to be said for the gems that lie in the Hinterland and surrounding local towns.

Here are a few of my favourite secret spots:

Where to brunch near Byron Bay.

WOODS in Bangalow.


This is my favourite spot to write from — you'll catch me here sipping a silken carob cacao and eating the chef's scramble (aptly named the "Campbell Scramble" after chef Sam Campbell) or diving into a divine banana bread, complete with miso maple butter and seasonal fruit.

WOODS is the perfect place for brunch or to get some work done. Image: Supplied.


When you're done eating, take your time perusing the Art Precinct, complete with vinyl record store Flo Records, local jewellery boutique Chandra Collections, and retail favourites Rowie and Assembly Label.

The Art Precinct Bangalow. Image: Supplied.


The Belle General Cafe in Ballina.

Situated on the beachfront of Shelly Beach, Ballina, The Belle General cafe has a menu packed with a delicious lineup of Allpress Espresso coffee and plenty of gluten- and dairy-free options (we are in the Northern Rivers, after all).


I suggest grabbing your food to go and taking it across the road, where the kids can run on the sand, explore the rock pools or take a mid-morning dip in the ocean. And on your drive home, swing past Ballina Bunnings to wave to the Giant Prawn (the kids will love you for it!).

Where to take the kids near Byron Bay.

Harvest Deli in Newrybar.


Nestled in the charming small hinterland town of Newrybar, and only a short drive from Byron, Harvest is a must-visit for pastry lovers. Grab a freshly made croissant and a coffee to go (BYO mug is encouraged!), and roam the beautiful gardens, where the team grow produce for neighbouring Harvest Restaurant (a fab dinner venue for the adults!).

Harvest is beautiful for the whole family, with a sweet play area complete with chickens (!) for the kids — and if you're lucky enough to attend on a Thursday morning, you might even make it for story time, when books and nursery rhymes are read for the kids while Mum and Dad sit back and enjoy their chai in the morning sun.

Story time at Harvest. Image: Supplied.


Once story time is over, spend your day in the beautiful surrounding boutiques packed with local produce, vintage clothing and the perfect souvenir shopping for home.

The Fairy Trail in Brunswick Heads.

A hidden gem in Brunswick Heads, the Fairy Trail is a magical, fun and free activity for the whole family. Stop into the Visitors' Centre to receive your clue sheet and then stroll through the beautiful beachside town to uncover all of the hidden homes of the fairies.

Watch: The Fairy Trail in Brunswick Heads delights adults and children alike. Post continues after video.

Video via ABC.

Hot tip: grab something to eat at The Brunswick Hotel afterwards, or go for a swim at Torakina Beach, a beautiful spot for the whole family.

Where to unwind near Byron Bay.

ASHA Holistic Bodywork in Alstonville.


For those of you seeking a deeper drop, you can't look past a bodywork session with Asha. Her unique take on massage teamed with cranio-sacral therapy and intuitive touch will have you floating off the massage table. She has appointment options in Alstonville as well as Byron's Industrial Estate, which is within reach for most out-of-town visitors.

Little Company in Byron Bay.


Only a short drive out of Byron town, Little Company is a must-visit for their signature Ritual Facial. Set on a heated massage bed (yes, you read that correctly!), imagine the best facial you have ever had... and then amplify it with a guided body scan meditation and foot massage. 

Add on an LED red light therapy treatment (complete with 15-minute guided meditation while you lie back and relax), or go all-out with a lymphatic drainage massage with Santé by Simone at Little Company.

The Banya in Mullumbimby.


With an 18+ entry, this is one for Mum and Dad (or maybe just Mum!). Described as an "immersive social, bathing and dining experience" in the heart of Mullumbimby, The Banya offers the chance to disconnect and unwind in a group bathhouse — complete with lap pool, two hot mineral pools, a wood-fired sauna, a steam room and a cold plunge, as well as five massage treatment rooms. 

After your session, enjoy a drink and meal at the on-site bar and dining.


Where to eat near Byron Bay.

Ciao Mate in Bangalow.

Now, it is to be noted that I am as "foodie" as they come, and Italian is my favourite. In my humble Masterchef-obsessed opinion, you cannot go past pizza and pasta. (And wine. Or a negroni. I'm not picky.)

What I ate in Ciao Mate Bangalow. Image: Supplied.

Thankfully, we have Ciao Mate — Bangalow's answer to really, really good Italian food. Be sure to book, and sit out in the courtyard if you can. Featuring local sustainable ingredients and founded by the same team behind The Eltham Hotel and You Beauty (two more standout dinner spots in the region), this is one for the hit list.


Capiche in Ballina.

If you (like me) can't get enough Italian food, Capiche offers a modern approach to coastal Italian dining in a prime ocean-front position. Watch the sunset dip over the panoramic sea as you choose from woodfired pizza, house-made pasta and locally sourced seafood.

Capiche. Image: Supplied


The pizzas are handmade with slow-fermented sourdough bases, plus there's a house gluten-free option that is as good as the real deal.

Where to day-trip in Byron Bay.

Killen Falls, Tintenbar.

For the nature lovers, you can’t go past a visit to Killen Falls. Take a beautiful scenic Hinterland drive and arrive at the top of the falls where a steep-ish hike awaits you. Once at the bottom, enjoy a dip underneath the waterfall and wash off that sweat before taking the hike back up to your car.

But word of warning: on a scale of zero to peak athleticism, we're looking at about a seven. It's a steep climb back up, and quite rocky. Wear proper shoes. And don't take the kids unless you’re prepared to carry them!

Buckley's Chance and Home Alstonville, Alstonville.

Now I may be biased (read: I am) but this neck of the woods I call my hometown is really up-and-coming. In the past 18 months we have seen some great new developments, including Buckley's Chance — a great spot for brekkie or lunch with the kids (or dinner and a vino for the adults) — and Home, a local food and provisions store featuring delicious daily-baked treats and a constant line-out-the-door (because the cakes are THAT good).

Home, Alstonville. Image: Supplied.


The Hinterland drive out to Alstonville alone is worth the visit. Image: Supplied.


Federal Doma Cafe and Crystal Castle.

Another beautiful Hinterland drive, and you are rewarded with a sweet, small town and incredible food at local favourite Federal Doma Cafe. Think home-style Japanese dishes in a beautiful outdoor setting. 

On your drive home, call into The Crystal Castle to get your real "Byron" hit. If you check the daily schedule, you might even make it for a Crystal Sound Healing (held at 12pm and 3pm each day). The giant crystals are something to behold, especially if you’re travelling with kids.

Truth be told, I am only scratching the surface when it comes to the gems we have to visit in the Northern Rivers region. But if you use this list as your starting point, I can guarantee you're in for a beautiful, rewarding visit next time you're in the area.

Want to know how to make travelling with kids work? Read here:

Feature Image: Supplied.

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