As local business owners lately we are hearing too often reasons not to get in the water. We are lucky that the actual experience of living in Byron Bay, and the Hinterland that surrounds us, is a rich one; The North Coast of NSW is more than just our beaches, we have a whole world of heritage listed rainforests, waterholes, eclectic villages and even wine-making regions all within 3 hours drive of the Byron Shire. Common Ground has teamed up with Patagonia to celebrate this with you.
Cathy Sullivan and Glen Casey, own the only locally owned and operated Patagonia store in Byron Bay. “We like to unplug at least once a month so we can be a family that plays together, so we can stay together. Our store sells responsibly made outdoor products, meaning we do business causing the least amount of harm possible on the natural environment.”
Over the course of the next few months we are going to load up on Patagonia product, fill up Case’s Landy, take our market bought food and head into our big beautiful backyard.
Our first adventure was last weekend:
Saturday 28th November
Weather conditions: cloudy, humid, on-shore, chance of rain and windy.
The aforementioned forecast for any parent would be weather conditions for a day of hell with your kids. Not fun to be at the beach, too many hours in the day to kill inside and no surf. Or, if you are sans kids, these days could perhaps mean a good book, long lunch or something we all wish to avoid – housework.
We have found the perfect solution to your ‘neh, not such a great beach day’ worries. It’s called native TV.
Grab your gang and get outdoors!
For our first adventure, we headed inland, west, for 1 hour and arrived at our destination, Sheep Station Creek just outside Kyogle at the base of The Border Ranges. The ascent up the ranges is breathtaking, think lots of dramatic drop-offs with as-far-as-the-eye-can-see views of the rainforest mountains that hug and wrap around Byron’s Hinterland. And the best part, no 4-wheel drive is required. The road is well maintained and not too bendy for those of you who get car-sick.
Pit stop 1: The camping ground of Sheep Station Creek. Whatever the weather this camping ground has you covered. Plenty of zoned camping spaces, 4 choices of walks that lead you deep into the forest and the waiting waterfalls, clean (and not smelly) toilets, BBQ’s, fire pits and best of all a sunken/covered/seated fire pit in case of rain. Nothing can beat the smell of rain and a burning log fire – native TV at it’s best.
The campsite is open and on relatively flat land, meaning we can extend our kids a little independence to explore. You can see them from a distance, it feels safe, and best of all you can see any creepy crawlys coming as the grass and scrub is well maintained in and around the camping zones.
Top tip: As this is a great rainy day adventure, and as you are in a rainforest, it’s a good idea to pack shoes with good grip (our daughter switched into gum boots upon arrival) and a waterproof jacket. Take some salt in case of the odd leech and apply your aeroguard at this point!
After lunch, and a 25 minute drive up onto the spine of the Border Ranges, we arrived at
Pit Stop 2: Blackbutt lookout. If you ever want to feel like you are flying in the clouds, come here! The weather changes rapidly, so if it is misty and mysterious when you arrive wait less than 10 minutes and majestic views as-far-as-your-eye-can-see will appear out of nowhere!
The view takes in the whole of the Tweed Caldera, one of the biggest erosion calderas in the world. It is one of the few places on earth where the erosion process can be seen all the way down to the underlying pre-volcanic sedimentary and metamorphic rocks.
The Blackbutt lookout is a place where you can see Wollumbin (Mt Warning), Mt Chincogan, Nuthingulli (the Julian Rocks) and Cape Byron all in a perfect line. All of these landmarks hold great significance in our local Aboriginal culture.
The misty trails are quite simply stunning places to create photos of you and yours enjoying the best that Mother Nature has to offer. Oh, and there are picnic areas, toilets and lots of sticks for pretend sword fights. Oley!
Top tip: Bust out the waterproof jacket, even if it’s not raining, so you don’t feel damp during the rest of your drive, after your leisurely stroll through the mist!
Pit stop 3: The beauty of the drive along the spine of the ranges is in the little things you see along the way. We told our daughter Willow that we were in Fern Gully and we were going to visit Tinkerbell’s home. We found her home in the base of an ancient tree, and we saw where the fairies went into their homes in the trees, spider webs and tunnels, and we foraged for what fairies eat, wild rasberries that are abundant along the sides of the road.
She pretty much lost it…and her mouth never closed the whole time we were there!
The come down.
Pit stop number 4: Coffee at Sphinx Rock Café.
A cool little space set on a beautiful piece of land, with a creek wrapping around it and views of Mt Burrell. It is next to the Mt Burrell convenience store (where you can get fuel) on Kyogle Road between Kyogle and Murwillumbah. They have a sandpit and toy area for kids, and on Sunday afternoons have live music. The food and coffee is great too! It is open 7 days.
After a quick coffee we head back towards Murwillumbah and stop at a couple of lookouts just off the road to take photographs of Wollumbin, and take in the amazing landscapes.
Take the shortcut and turn right just before Murwillumbah to head through the back road to Stokers Siding, you will pop out on the Burringbar Range and be back in Byron in under 30mins.
If you would like more tips or information about our adventure or have of your own tips for a great local adventure to share, please feel free to pop in and see Case or Cathy at the Patagonia store 1/58 Jonson St, Byron Bay.
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