Ah Byron Bay. The beaches. The lighthouse on Australia’s most easterly point. That crescent-shaped bay. The epic festivals and the chill, boho vibe. The magical Bundjalung Country with an energetic spark big enough to jolt you out of the humdrum.
The reasons to visit this northern New South Wales enclave are almost innumerable. But while the township of Byron Bay itself has the reputation, it’s the ‘burbs and beaches to the north and south – and the Byron Hinterland – that hide a trove of epic Slow Stays for switching off and settling into that slow Northern Rivers’ flow.
From Murwillumbah to Mullumbimby, Federal to Newrybar, and between the heads of Brunny and Lennox, the hills and valleys are alive with the sound of sweet, sweet bliss.
Here are five Byron Bay hinterland and Northern Rivers Slow Stays to add to your list.
Off-grid looks slightly more luxurious at Salty Cabins’ two Byron Hinterland retreats. Hidden amongst gum-dotted scrubland at Yelgun, The Cabin and The A-Frame both offer absolute solitude – with the flip side of Byron’s energy only 30 minutes away. Room enough for four people, the unique A-Frame structure (perched atop a circular deck) creates the sensation of camping in nature, minus the tent. Float between the living area and the sleeping quarters, where you can peer out the glass walls over the majesty of Bundjalung Country below.
Upping the ante even further, The Cabin is all minimalist, Scandinavian simplicity from inside to out. Wood and adobo-clad, the cosy cabin is where you’ll spend days lounging on the deck or soaking in the sunken outdoor bath, dappled light landing gently. Wines around the crackling fire are a must before taking in the expansive beauty of star-lit skies over the dark hills and valleys of Northern Rivers country.
Lillian Rock, NSW
Never heard of Lillian Rock? Well, this well-kept secret is surprisingly close to Byron Bay and other Northern Rivers delights despite its low-key reputation. Especially when you consider the abject solitude and serenity it casts from every angle. In the shadow of Bundjalung spiritual site Wollumbin (Lillian Rock itself is also sacred), luxurious retreat Froghollow Lakehouse can be found nestled in this lush landscape, waiting to help you press the reset button. Play in the lily-pad covered lake (with included kayaks), laze on the sundeck or soak in the sheltered, rainwater jacuzzi while peering out over the pond (even a heavy rainstorm won’t stop you!). Of course there’s plenty of adventure around, so if you’re feeling energetic go beyond the property boundary to discover why it’s called the Rainbow Region.
Ask anyone that’s spent time in the Northern Rivers and they’ll all say the same: there is something palpably magical about this landscape. And the enchantment is thick at Rosalita’s Rest, hidden in a nook of rainforest north of Byron Bay. Designed by passionate permaculturists, the two quaint cabins are like a gateway to another realm, where being at one with nature is as simple as waking up. Every action feels like a meditation on the meaning of life and the simple beauty of the world around us. Reset with peaceful moments by the lake, and a soak in the outdoor bath under fairy lights surrounded by the soothing drone of cicadas. Go fully into the zen with an outdoor yoga session or make your way to Brunswick and South Golden Beach for a slight change of pace.
Mullumbimby Creek, NSW
A stay at Blackbird Byron feels like immersing yourself in peak Northern Rivers lifestyle. Effortless, cool, easygoing and, importantly, relaxing; it’s a Slow Stay that wears its boho luxe heart on its sleeve. In fact, the whole vibe is so covetable, you’ll find yourself dreaming about ways to recreate it at home – to add just a touch of the chill to your usual frenzy. Hidden in the hills behind hippie haven Mullumbimby, it feels much further from the buzz of Byron Bay’s bustling streets than the scenic 32-minute drive it is, meaning you can have your cake (organic, of course) and eat it too!
Country cottages don’t come much more beautiful, or luxurious, than Heartwood Farm in the Byron Hinterland. Sitting high on a ridge at an endlessly green 100-acre dairy farm, where well-fed cows graze and amble unhurriedly, the two-bedroom cottage is as charming as it is comfortable. This is the place for making your inner-child giddy with glee. Endless swims (either in the Wilson River or the heated plunge pool) are interspersed with swings under the fig tree, paddock picnics or lazing around reading. Wrap a big ol’ nostalgic bow around it by ending the day giggling around the fire-pit, toasting marshmallows until bedtime. And, only four minutes from the tiny township of Federal, you can nab a table at much-loved Doma Cafe and check out Federal General Store for some local goodies.