From Kingscliff to Lennox Heads, you’ll find a plethora of incredible Northern NSW day trips just south of the border.
If you’re living in the Gold Coast (or even Brissie), a quick trip to the Northern Rivers is within easy reach. Hit the road early enough, and you’ll spend an entire day basking in its glory and still get home in time for tea.
Need some inspo on where to go? We’ve rounded down the top seven day trips to Northern NSW.
Drive time from the Gold Coast: 40 mins
Can’t be arsed with a long drive? Uncrowded Kingscliff boasts pristine beaches a stone’s throw from the state line. Aquatic activities like swimming, snorkelling, and surfing are the big drawcard here—these turquoise-tinged waters are divine.
Cycle along the paved path from Kingscliff to Pottsville to savour the coastline in one fell swoop. The scenic 17km route takes an hour one way at a cracking pace, but you’ll need more time to stop and spot dolphins (or maybe even whales) at the lookouts en route.
Once you’ve worked up an appetite, swing by No. 35 Restaurant & Bar for next-level Italian nosh. The chefs-hatted Paper Daisy does the most sought-after cuisine around—book in advance. Brew aficionados can’t go past Earth Beer Co in Cudgen, while spirits swillers should hit Tumbulgum’s Husk Distillers for the transformative Ink Gin.
Drive time from the Gold Coast: 55 mins
Art lovers will adore Murwillumbah, a quaint country town showcasing Australia’s top talent. Surrounded by lush parklands, the Tweed Regional Gallery hosts an impressive collection of permanent exhibits and touring displays.
Attached is the Margaret Olley Art Centre, which pays homage to one of our most celebrated painters. Plan to spend at least an hour perusing the intriguing recreation of her home studio—there are 20,000 artefacts to sift through.
For a leisurely lazy lunch, you can’t go past the Tweed River House. This waterfront Provençal-style bistro snagged a chef’s hat for its delectable farm-to-table fare. Swing by Kat Harvey Cheese for delicious dairy treats, then check out the M-Arts Precinct to purchase contemporary works straight from the creators.
Time from the Gold Coast: 1 hour 15 mins
Hipsters, hippies, and celebs rub shoulders in NSW’s (or dare we say, Australia’s) coolest coastal town. Once a laid-back surfer hub, Byron has evolved to become a tourism behemoth in recent years. Chic boutiques, trendy cafes, and boisterous late-night bars define the town—it’s the place to see and be seen.
If you’d like the same epic coastlines with a more low-key vibe, slow-paced Brunswick Heads is even closer to Queensland.
Unsurprisingly, Byron is brimming with great places to eat. Try Folk Byron Bay for cafe-style delights, Beach Byron Bay for refined Mod-Oz fare, or Light Years for yummy Asian fusion and late-night cocktails.
Time from the Gold Coast: 1 hour 15 mins
Tiny little Bangalow is a big hit among inner-city foodies for its eclectic collection of farm-to-table restaurants and cafes. Most of the top culinary haunts line its charming main thoroughfare (Byron St)—just wander along and follow your nose.
Once you’re done stuffing your gob, there are stacks of boutiques and bric-a-brac stores to peruse. Pop by on Saturday morning to snag some fresh artisanal produce from the Farmer’s Market.
Wondering where to eat?
Frida’s Field puts on a fabulous farm-to-table feast for lunch on weekends. Nearby in Newrybar, Harvest won a chef’s hat for its fresh seasonal fare, while Zentveld’s offers one of Australia’s only crop-to-cup coffee-tasting experiences.
Nightcap National Park
Drive time from the Gold Coast: 2 hours
Mist-shrouded rainforests are a mainstay of Northern NSW, and Nightcap National Park delivers a solid serving of sopping wet natural splendour. The main spot is Protestors Falls, a picturesque cascade accessed by a gorgeous 10-minute walking trail. Don’t bring your bathers because swimming is prohibited to protect endangered native frogs.
Nearby, Wollumbin National Park is home to the ominous Mount Warning. This ancient volcanic caldera is currently closed due to safety and cultural concerns but is tipped to reopen soon. In addition, the Border Ranges National Park offers a brilliant off-the-beaten-track scenic drive.
Drive time from the Gold Coast: 1 hour 40 mins
Any self-respecting Rastafarian will make the pilgrimage to Nimbin at least once in their life. This infamous hippy hamlet took to the counter-culture movement during the Aquarius Festival of 1973 and never looked back.
Smoke shops, tie-dye stalls, and the emblematic Hemp Embassy have helped keep the tradition alive. Nonetheless, there’s no denying the town has taken a seedier turn in recent years.
Drive time from the Gold Coast: 1 hour 25 mins
Laidback Lennox Head brings you the best NSW breaks within day-trip distance to SE-QLD. If the ram-packed surf scene at Byron is getting you down, you’ll find thicker waves and thinner crowds just 15 minutes south.
Boulder Beach is a playground for the pros—watch the action unfold from the Pat Morton Lookout. If that looks too gnarly, hit the gentle Seven Mile Beach for a swim or Lake Ainsworth to paddle the day away.
Shelter is the town’s top gastronomic establishment (the sweeping sea views certainly don’t hurt).
Book Northern NSW Day Trips with Kiff & Culture
The Northern Rivers is home to some of the finest gastronomic establishments in the state. You can visit the cream de la crème on a Kiff & Culture tour.