Australia’s Green Cauldron is one of Tourism Australia’s original National Landscapes and stretches from the Gold Coast Hinterland, across the border through The Tweed to Byron Bay and west to Scenic Rim and Nimbin. This spectacular landscape includes World Heritage Listed National Parks, idyllic seaside villages, ancient rainforest and lush hinterland.

Byron Shire

It is often said that Byron Shire became famous after thousands of people discovered Byron at the time of the Aquarius Music and Alternative Lifestyle Festival held in Nimbin, back in 1973.  Many who came to the Festival never left. They set up organic farms, holistic healing centres, yoga schools, writers and circus schools, wrote books, made movies, recorded music and grew and sold marijuana all of which brought more people, artists, innovators and income to the entire region.

Byron Bay Shire

Byron Bay: Byron Bay is a beach town located in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales. The beachside village is notable for its surfing, the marine reserves and surrounding rainforest, as well as being the sacred meeting place for the local Bundjalung tribes. Today the Arakwal people have been named the official custodians of Byron Bay, which is to them their sacred homeland. In the nutrient rich waters offshore the icy southern currents meet the warm northern ones. The area is teaming with life including bottle nosed dolphins, humpback whales, sea turtles, sea birds, manta rays, sharks, and all manner of fish who inhabit the coral reefs. In addition, the most bio-diverse rainforests on Earth are within a short driving distance.

To the official custodians of Byron Bay everything in the environment is sacred, even the rocks offshore. There is a gathering of rock formations near the shore of Byron Bay. These islets are not only an important breeding area for the endangered sea turtle. They are the resting place of Nguthungulli, Father of the World. The Arakwal have a tale that says to disturb him would bring an end to the world. Working with the community, the Arakwal protect Byron Bay by reviewing plans for land use and educating others about their country.

The tradition Arakwal name for Byron Bay is Cavenbah, which literally translates to "meeting place". For thousands of year the Cavenbah was a meeting place for the Arakwal and the surrounding tribes of the Bundjalung. They would gather there to celebrate bountiful harvests, or for important rituals of initiation. Cavenbah encompasses the sweeping beach front of Byron Bay as well as the sheltered places in the cliff sides. The Arakwal home base is still located there near the current crossroads of Lawson and Fletcher Streets.

The Cape Byron walking track is a 3.7 kilometre walk through coastal scrub and beach communities. This includes a magnificent view overlooking the Coral Sea as well as the coastal hinterland. If you bring your binoculars you may be able to spot a humpback whale or bottlenose dolphin leaping in the distance. The Cape Byron Lighthouse is a popular tourist attraction because of the 360 degree view it offers of the surrounding area. The light has been updated to an automatic system since the days of lighthouse keepers. But their cottages have been converted into a charming seaside hotel. To learn more about the lighthouse, take a tour or visit the Maritime Museum in town.

Brunswick Heads

Simple Pleasure is the tag line for Brunswick Heads and simple pleasures it offers, with a touch of vintage retro and a culinary offering that punches well above its weight.  Brunswick Heads is a small unspoilt coastal village on the NSW north coast, situated at the mouth of the Brunswick River. The town is 15 minutes north of Byron Bay and 30 minutes from the Gold Coast. It is only 30 minutes by car from both Ballina Byron Airport and Coolangatta Airport.

Nestled within the breakwater there is a safe peaceful beach while a white sandy surf beach stretches to the south. The north bank of the river hosts a protected rainforest and the southern bank provides a harbour and small marina for fishing boats and small craft. Mt Chincogan and Mt Warning provide a spectacular hinterland backdrop to the river that meanders up to the small town of Mullumbimby.

Brunswick Heads and surrounds

Mullumbimby: Mullumbimby is colloquially known as the Biggest Little Town in Australia. It lies ten kilometres inland from the east coast in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales. This makes it a short driving distance from the coastal town of Byron Bay. Seated on the edge of several national parks, it is the gateway to many natural wonders of the World Heritage protected rainforests. Mullumbimby is the head of the Byron Shire municipality. The name is usually shortened to Mullum by locals.

Mullumbimby's first post office was built in 1907. Now it is the Brunswick Valley Historical Museum and Park. As the service centre of Brunswick Valley it was only fitting that the museum be in Mullumbimby. The museum has been relocated to Summers Park where there is a replication of a colonial village. The museum includes antique farming tools, a slab cottage, and old equipment from local workshops. Inside the museum houses important historical documents.  Historical memorabilia displayed for viewing at the Brunswick Valley Historical Museum includes letters, legal documents, photographs, and a stash of microfilmed newspapers from the years 1906 to 1942.

Bangalow: A short drive inland from Byron Bay, off the Pacific Highway, is the charming country town of Bangalow. This popular day trip from the coast was named after the Bundjalung word "bangalla" which can mean a kind of palm tree, or a low hill. The historic 19th century architecture that borders Main Street is a strong draw for tourists and locals alike. It is lined with cosy cafes and colourful boutiques that delight and inspire. The restaurants in Bangalow frequently serve organically grown local produce. All of this is only a short drive from the white sandy beaches of the Australian coast, and the World Heritage protected national parks of the Gondwana Rainforests.

Crystal Castle: Nestled in the outskirts of Mullumbimby is a popular new age tourist attraction called Crystal Castle. The combination of museum, gardens, and shop is home to one of the largest collections of crystals in Australia. Crystal Castle's slogan makes it obvious that it prides itself on being a unique escape where people can enrich their spirit. The collection features a crystal labyrinth, a rainforest garden, and a Buddha walk through rose quartz crystals and hand carved statues. They also have a display for children full of faeries, dragons, and other magical objects. At the shop they sell a variety of crystal related gifts such as jewellery, books, and fine specimens, as well as music and beauty products. Add in guardians etc!!!

Lennox Head: Situated between Byron Bay and Ballina is the seaside village of Lennox Head. The easy going beach town is another great destination for sidewalk cafes and shops, as well as some world class surfing. Surfers from around the world visit Lennox Head to try out its famous right hand break. The town is actually an official National Surfing Reserve. According to Aboriginal legend, the Bundjalung tribe originated from three brothers who travelled to the Australian continent on a raft with their wives and mother. They believe that Seven Mile Beach in Lennox Head, was the point where the three brothers arrived. When they arrived, one of the brothers thrust his spear into the beach where a stream of fresh water miraculously appeared. There is still an ancient Bora Ring on the west side of town that people can visit to learn more about Bundjalung culture.

Macadamia Castle: The Macadamia Castle is a small amusement park dedicated to celebrating the delicious, light, and crunchy macadamia nut. The Macadamia Castle has been open for more than 35 years. Today they have koalas, kangaroos, wallbies and emus, reptile houses, a bird show, a petting zoo, a frog enclosure a café, a nut bar, and a fine foods store. Prepare to spend up to the entire day learning about macadamia nuts through educational tours and entertainment. This family destination is a wonderful stop for entertaining children and feeding adults with gourmet fare and coffee. If you get there in time for breakfast be sure to try a stack of pancakes with fresh mango sauce and macadamia nuts, bananas, honey and macadamia nut ice cream, or passion fruit with macadamia nuts. Stop by the gift shop for macadamia nuts shelled or in the shell, macadamias for cooking, macadamia snacks and biscuits, coffee, and more!

Tweed Shire

The Tweed Shire seat is famous for being the filming location for one of the most popular reality TV show in the world. Since 2002 the hit British show I'm a Celebrity...Get Me out of Here! has been shot in or around to town of Murwillumbah. The British television show puts B list celebrities in the middle of the jungle and documents them living in primitive conditions. Each season the celebrities name a charity they wish to benefit from their experience. Viewers vote for the celebrities they wish to complete trials by phone. The last celebrity remaining is crowned King or Queen of the Jungle. Dutch and German versions of the show are also filmed here.

Tweed Shire

Wollumbin Mount Warning: When James Cook saw the peak of Wollumbin in the distance as he and his crew arrived to the east coast of Australia for the first time, he gave it the alarming name of Mt. Warning. A Royal topography expert, he bestowed the attention grabbing name to the landmark so that future navigators would look at maps and realize how close they were to what he creatively called the Danger Reefs, three miles east of what was to become New South Wales.

The Bundjalung aboriginals that inhabited the area at the time had long since named the peak Wollumbin, which translates to "Cloudcatcher" or "Rainmaker" or "Warrior Chief of the Mountains". To them the tallest peak on the East Coast that caught the first rays of the sun each morning had a deep religious and cultural significance. For the Bundajalung people believed that the mountains in the Tweed shire were  warrior spirits that permeated their existence. Wollumbin was the chief of the warrior spirits and his battle scars could be seen in the valleys and furrows of the tallest mountain. To this day the Bundjalung believe only those who have been initiated into a sacred order are worthy of climbing Wollumbin.

The mountain range itself is a part of an extinct volcano crater. At one time the entire area was part of a massive shield volcano which last erupted 20 million years ago. Over the period of several millenniums the combination of a humid climate and high winds from the sea gradually eroded the Tweed volcano into the huge caldera that remains today. The rich volcanic soil of the moist region is home to the Gondwana Rainforests that are home to a wide variety of plant and animal species found now where else on the planet. In fact Wollumbin rises from the ancient groves as part of the Wollumbin Mount Warning National Park. The rainforests are protected under international law as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The total area of Wollumbin Mount Warning National Park is about 2380 hectares. It is located 12km south-west of Murwillumbah, in the state of Queensland. It is approximately 642 km south of Sydney and 145 km south of Brisbane near the Gold Coast. According to the National Park and Wildlife Service, the temperature ranges from about 9 to 28 degrees Celsius depending on whether it is winter or summer. The rainforest environment is very humid and moist; the rainiest month being February and the driest September.

The area is significant for the unique window it provides into the Jurassic, Cretaceous, and Tertiary periods. It is a centre for Araucarian trees, the most ancient and primitive species of conifer on the planet. Mount Warning National Park is home to some lineages of songbirds in Australia that can be traced back to the Cretaceous era, including Lyrebirds, Scrub-birds, Treecreepers and Bowerbirds, and Catbirds. Other endemic species of bird are the rare and endangered Wompoo Dove and Marbled Frogmouth.

Murwillumbah: Murwillumbah is an agricultural centre and the seat for the Tweed Shire council. The name Murwillumbah is Bundjalung for "place of many possums". Other translations take it to mean the camping place of Aboriginal people. Whatever the case may be, the rich volcanic soil proves to be ideal grounds for subtropical rainforest and crops alike. Wollumbin Mount Warning shines in the distance overlooking the national parks. And the town farms are bursting with sugarcane, coffees, macadamia nuts, bananas, and beef cattle, as well as other crops. In addition to the fertile soil, Murwillumbah is rich in culture as well. Visitors are sure to delight in the art deco architecture containing an array of art galleries, cafes, pubs, bed and breakfasts, as well as gardens and museums. The Murwillumbah Visitor Centre is a good place to go for information regarding the surrounding areas. There you can obtain brochures and booking information for mineral hunting, river boat cruises, local accommodations, guided tours, and houseboats. The Rainforest Centre provides information about the neighbouring national parks, state forests, and nature preserves. It is somewhat of a museum with informative displays about local wildlife, as well as a theatrette that plays a documentary about Murwillumbah. The centre is located on the east bank of the Tweed River in Budd Park. There they have picnicking facilities and a dock for river boats. 

Uki: Uki is a small village of less than 300 people that is located near Wollumbin and the Mt. Warning National Park. Historically Uki was a settlement for loggers and dairy men. The main attraction to the area was the stands of Australian Red Cedar which fetched a high price in the timber market. The story goes that wood prospectors would mark the finest trees with the code UK1, meaning that tree would be shipped to the United Kingdom. Eventually this hyphenation was pronounced as Uki. Uki is also an Aboriginal name for a small fern with edible roots that grows in the forest nearby

Lismore Shire

Lismore is set amid what remains of the Big Scrub. This is a local term for the World Heritage protected Gondwana Rainforests of Australia. The nearest major national park is Nightcap National Park, which is situated near the Nightcap Mountain Range on the southern edge of the massive Tweed caldera. The Gondwana Rainforests there receive more rainfall than any other national park in the region. Some of the biggest waterfalls in the area are located there, including Minyon Falls and Protestors Falls. In addition to the ancient stands of trees and the Githabal tribal group, the park is also home to a large population of extremely rare animals such as the Albert's lyrebirds and Leay's Barred Frog.

Lismore Shire

Lismore: Lismore is located where Wilson's River meets Leycester Creek, off Bruxner Highway. It is home to the biggest university in Northern Rivers, Southern Cross University. The mild, subtropical climate of Lismore goes in hand with the Big Scrub that surrounds it. Many national parks of the World Heritage protected Gondwana Rainforest are within a short driving distance. Downtown Lismore as well as the hinterland towns nearby are primed for shopping with local goods such as fresh local produce, boutiques, designer home goods, arcades, and cafes. People call Lismore and the surrounding areas the rainbow region because of the frequent showers, beautiful scenery and free thinking residents.

Nimbin: Nimbin is located to the south of Mt. Burrell at the edge of the rainforest near the Nightcap Nation Park. Since the Aquarius Festival of 1973, Nimbin Village has been a place of counter culture and an artistic retreat outside of mainstream society. The community is dedicated to sustainable living through permaculture and energy efficient housing. Tourists flock to the area to take in the arts, new age healing centres, and cannabis culture. Locally known as the Rainbow Region, Nimbin prides itself as being on the forefront of alternative ideas and environmental awareness. People interested in permaculture should be sure to visit the Djanbung Gardens Permaculture and the Rainbow Power Company.  Anyone interested in holistic health and alternative healing would be wise to check out the many services they offer including massage, acupuncture, toxic cleansing, dowsing, spiritual retreats and recovery options.

Nimbin Rocks: The Nimbin Rocks are volcanic extrusions of Rhyolite left over from the Mount Warning Tweed Volcano. They are located 3km outside of the notorious village of Nimbin, but are only viewable from the road. To the Bundjalung they were significant as the homes of the Nmbngee, or Clever Men. The story of the Clever Men can be read at the Nimbin Museum.

The Channon: A hinterland village in the boundaries of Lismore is called the Channon. It is the gateway into the Nightcap National Park and is particularly close to the Protestors Falls. This area was the site of a historically important protest to preserve the rainforests in 1979. When the dairy industry collapsed in the Sixties, some regional towns converted their old butter factories to museums and galleries. But in the Channon they turned theirs into one of the only pubs in the area.  The Old Butter Factory Tavern also serves hot meals and has rooms for let in the motel. Every winter opera lovers flock to the Channon for Opera at the Channon. It is a formal event that includes a meal reception followed by a selection of opera performances.