With Queensland’s border opening to parts of NSW from October 1, border towns on both sides are expected to be flooded with interstate tourists.
We’ve done the busy work and have broken down the best hidden tourist gems from NSW’s newest border bubble, ranging from tea-tree lakes to sapphire fossicking.
While most of these experiences can be done as day trips or multi-day stays, Queenslanders will still need to complete a border pass when crossing into NSW.
Make sure you come prepared for your interstate journey and ensure you don’t travel outside the border “bubble” to not risk two weeks in quarantine.
Skydive Byron Bay
The best way to socially distance is from 15,000 feet in the air, all while taking in a spectacular view of the local Byron Bay coastline.
Skydive Byron Bay offers tandem skydiving experiences that will give you the biggest adrenaline rush since lockdown – and you can even take that experience home with awesome video and photo packages.
Find out more at skydive.com.au/byron-bay
Byron Bay Coffee Trail
If an adrenaline rush isn’t for you, take advantage of the local subtropical climate and sample some of the regions award-winning coffee producers.
While you’re able to find loads of local brews in cafes on Jonson Street, the best experience is heading right to the source at plantations like Zentvelds, Newrybar and Ewingsdale.
Only a short walk from Seven Mile Beach, Lake Ainsworth allows families and couples alike a pleasant destination to swim in and at the same time, soothing sunburns and skin irritations.
Ballina’s Tassiriki Ranch and Beach Horse Riding
Just 15 minutes from Ballina, Ballina’s Tassiriki Ranch offers visitors the chance to experience a beachside horseriding holiday coupled with cozy cabin-style holiday accommodation that’ll give you the seclusion for the perfect coastal escape.
The ranch also features beach fishing, whale watching and surfing all within walking distance of your cabin.
Find our more at tassirikiranch.com.au
Lismore Regional Art Gallery
If you’re keen to experience the region’s vibrant arts culture, the Lismore Regional Art Gallery is a small but strongly cultivated piece of regional identity.
Currently showcasing exhibits on aboriginal identity, “soft textures” and local agriculture, the museum also features a unique collection of photographs of the iconic 1973 Nimbin Aquarius Festival.
Find our more at lismoregallery.org
Nightcap National Park
Those looking to stretch their legs might find their best fit within Nightcap National Park, playing host to ancient World Heritage-listed rainforest, picturesque picnic areas and campgrounds.
Just over an hour’s drive from Byron or 50 minutes from Lismore, the park offers an ideal day trip from any area of the NSW bubble.
Wild River Tours
If you’re keen on casting a line, Wild River Tours based out of Casino will take you straight into the heart of some of the best bass fishing waters in the country.
You don’t even need to fish to reel in an amazing experience with the kayaking and canoe river tours also on offer.
Find out more at wildrivertours.com.au
Aranyani Bison Adventure Tourist Park
Along the same stream of unique inland adventures, you’d be remiss to pass up a stay at Aranyani Bison Adventure Tourist Park.
Yes, you read that right, there are Bisons within the grounds.
The Park also plays host to over 1180 acres of land and provides habitat for a great diversity of plants and animals, with over 50 of them being classed as threatened species.
Australian Standing Stones
For those seeking something truly different, the Australian Standing Stones in Glen Innes Centennial Parklands pays homage to the Celtic contributions to the region and Australian culture at large.
Dubbed Australia’s “mini-Stonehenge”, the attraction features one of the best photo ops on the North Coast – pulling Excalibur out of the ground – making it a must-see destination for young and old.
Positioned on top of one of the world’s richest mineral belts, Emmaville is just an hour’s drive from Glen Innes or 90 minutes from the Stanthorpe/NSW border.
It’s the perfect destination for “hidden gem” hunters seeking their own sapphire surprise and there are plenty of homesteads and caravan parks nearby for those who want to stay.
Tell us your favourite “hidden gem” in the NSW bubble in the comments below.
Originally published as Ten hidden gems for your northern NSW escape