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Tourism to Northern Rivers on the rise following floods

October 11, 2017 OTA News No Comments Email Email

Travel to the NSW Northern Rivers has picked up after the floods in March 2017, according to accommodation bookings data from the world’s largest hotel price comparison platform

HotelsCombined partnered with National Geographic and the NSW Government’s tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW as part the Government’s North Coast Flood Recovery Support Program to help grow tourism on the North Coast.

Data reveals the region has experienced an average of 22 per cent growth per month since June this year, with tourism in August reaching a similar level as the peak period in January. August this year was 17 per cent higher than the same time last year.

The Northern Rivers is situated on the North Coast of NSW which starts just north of Coffs Harbour, reaches inland to Grafton and Lismore, then up to Tweed Heads. The floods forced the temporary closure of many accommodation operators across the region, with the towns most impacted including Ballina, Byron Bay, Lismore, Nimbin, Murwillumbah, Kingscliff, Chinderah, Tweed Heads, Kyogle and Casino.

Chris Rivett, Head of Marketing at, says: “There is truly something for everyone in the Northern Rivers and I think most Australians hold a special place in their heart for the region. In fact, Byron Bay-based accommodation Villas of Byron was the national winner in HotelsCombined’s inaugural Recognition of Excellence Awards. It beat almost 25,000 accommodation providers across the country to take out the top spot.

“Queenslanders and NSW residents love the region because they can easily travel there – it’s close enough to home yet far enough away at the same time, and it’s easy to sneak in a three- or four-day holiday to recharge. After months of extensive clean-up efforts, most operators have reopened their businesses, and I think many people will be considering a visit to the Northern Rivers as the weather starts to get warmer,” Chris said.

NSW Minister for Tourism and Major Events Adam Marshall said, “The March floods took an enormous toll and after the tireless work of the local community, the North Coast is back on its feet and it’s great to have the opportunity to promote some of the region’s best attractions with key industry partners such as HotelsCombined and National Geographic.


“Whether it’s a beach holiday in Tweed Heads, Kingscliff or Byron Bay, or a stay further inland in Murwillumbah, those considering a holiday should look no further than the beautiful NSW North Coast to experience some of the country’s best beaches, great food and unique accommodation,” he said.


The joint partnership also provided the opportunity for travel journalist Lynette Bolton to visit the area.


“The Northern Rivers is quite possibly one of my favourite parts of Australia. You think a region so picturesque can’t get any better and then you discover that every town is so focused on living off the land and being sustainable, which I think is a huge drawcard. What really adds to the appeal is that it has a fantastic food and wine scene, is an emerging cultural mecca and its pristine beaches, waterfalls and bushwalks are some of the best in Australia,” Lynette said.

Lynette shares her favourite things to do in the Northern Rivers over a four-day trip.

Day 1: Hot air balloon ride over Byron, cycle through Ballina and eat at The Farm. I begin my getaway with a hot air balloon ride over Byron. This one-hour sunrise flight reveals a bird’s-eye view of the region’s lush forests, rugged mountains and South Pacific Ocean coastline. After driving 35 minutes south to Ballina, home to the Big Prawn, I hire a bicycle and cruise along the Coastal Recreational Path to see heritage sites, interpretive displays, Indigenous murals and other culturally significant landmarks from the Nyangbul people.

After working up an appetite, I venture back to The Farm, located just outside Byron Bay. This working farm is home to several environmentally-focused businesses, including Flowers at the Farm, The Bread Social and Three Blue Ducks Restaurant. Three Blue Ducks serves delicious farm-grown meals, with no longer than two days between harvest to plate. After lunch, I take a guided tour to meet the cuddly farm animals and learn more about The Farm’s sustainable practices.

Day 2: Explore Newrybar, eat a slice of world-famous pecan pie and wander through Lismore. I begin day two in Newrybar, a cosy hamlet about 20 kilometres from Byron Bay. Artisan retailers in heritage-style shops along Main Street sell local artwork, crafts, antiques and stylish fashion accessories. Then I stop at the award-winning Eltham Valley Pantry, which is nestled on a nearby farm with more than 300 pecan trees where they source fresh ingredients for their signature pecan pies, and take a guided tour that showcases the entire pecan farming process, from growing to processing.

My next stop is Lismore, where World Heritage-listed rainforest surrounds heritage buildings. I wander through Back Alley Gallery, a colourful maze of murals and street art, to discover Lismore’s renowned artist community, before I settle in for the night at Eltham Hotel, a country-style pub tucked deep in the Northern Rivers hinterland. The spacious second-floor rooms boast polished timber floors, plush queen-sized beds and access to the hotel’s veranda. I finish my day with a local beer and wood-fired pizza at the on-site restaurant.

Day 3: Swim under a waterfall, experience the Nimbin Farmer’s Market and stop by Mount Warning. I spend the morning at Killen Falls in Tintenbar, where a picturesque swimming area backs into a 10-metre-high waterfall. Then I head to the Nimbin Farmer’s Market (held every Wednesday) to enjoy fresh produce, alternative health products and live music in a friendly atmosphere.

I make a stop in Uki, a historic village nestled at the base of Mount Warning to spend the night at Mavis’s Kitchen and Cabins and book a table at the restaurant for a seasonal menu of produce sourced from farmers, artisans and the on-site organic garden but before the day is over, I experience the 1,156-metre-high Wollumbin Mount Warning from the air on a thrilling helicopter flight.

Day 4: Kayak in Murwillumbah, stop at Tropical Fruit World and head to Kingscliff. I make the most of my last day with a sunrise kayak excursion on the Tweed River in Murwillumbah, about 15 minutes’ drive from Uki. I spend some time at Tweed Regional Gallery and the Margaret Olley Art Centre, before departing to Tropical Fruit World in Duranbah, home to over 500 varieties of exotic fruits. I conclude my trip at Kingscliff Beach, making it just in time for a surfing lesson before kicking back on the sand and watching the sun melt into the water.

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