A fantastic drive to take in the Northern New South Wales region will take you from Lismore to the NSW/ QLD border. It’s called Tourist Route 32 and is an 80km drive that takes you through the hinterland, from Lismore to Murwillumbah and then you continue on to Tweed. You can do it in one hit – taking you around 2-3 hours (the roads are windy so speeds are limited), or take a day and stop in at some of the national parks, visit some of the local farms and just enjoy the road.
If you’ve got a weekend free, why not leave from the Gold Coast or Brisbane and drive to Lismore via the coastal road, stop overnight and then take a trip back via the Tourist Route. A great option for weekenders.
First stop along the way after leaving Lismore is The Channon, and you will pass some lovely macadamia farms – even a lemon myrtle farm – and the little villages of Tullera and Modanville, along the way. The Channon is a gateway to the rainforests of Nightcap National Park and is close to the well known Protesters Falls.
Passing through The Channon village, you can see where the largest craft market in Northern NSW is held every second Sunday of the month.
Of course you can’t visit the region without going to Protesters Falls either. It’s just a 14 kilometre drive from The Channon and the falls were actually renamed after a protest against logging that was held in 1979. If you’re visiting, it’s just a 1.4 kilometre easy walk to get to the falls themselves and you will find yourself taken on a path through the Bangalow palm forest, ending up at the base of the falls. Swimming there isn’t permitted because it is home to the endangered Fleay’s barred frog, but it’s certainly well worth the journey!
From the falls you continue along Koonorigan Road, which is a steep and winding road – but it takes you through rolling hills and past some beautiful Jacarandas. The area is teaming with produce farms, including macadamia, coffee, dairy farms, avocados and stone fruit orchards. This road led me to Nimbin Road – and of course – Nimbin. Be careful on the road leading you in and out of Nimbin. It seems like it’s been many years since they were tended to and there are some large, and deep, potholes that might bust your tires! So just keep a sharp eye on the road to avoid them.
From Nimbin, you take the road to Uki and Clarrie Hall Dam, which is just a few kilometres from town. The dam is a great place to go if you want to have a picnic, do some bushwalking or if you’re a keen bird watcher! It was great to stop here and let Abby have a run around for a little while. The village of Uki itself is quaint and a great coffee stop, and just a few kilometres out of town you will find the turn off towards Mt Warning.
World Heritage Listed Mt Warning National Park, or Wollumbin, as the original inhabitants of the land call the mountain, is the perfect place to go to escape. It was originally a volcano which covered a massive 400 square kilometres in area. The history of the name for Mt Warning actually dates back to 1770 when James Cook saw the mountain from the ocean at Byron and used it and a point he named Point Danger Fingal Head to warn future mariners of the offshore reefs he encountered.
If you’re there early enough you can actually be the first in Australia to see the sunrise! This is because of its proximity to Byron – the easternmost point of Australia. It was dedicated as a national park in 1966 and its inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage Listings in 1986 ensures its protection for future generations.
If you have time, make sure you join one of more than 60,000 people who make the 8.8 kilometre, 5 hour round trip walk to the top!
From Mt Warning, the road takes you to Murwillumbah – along the Tweed River – an area that is rich in dairy farms, sugar cane and banana plantations. Murwillumbah sits on the south eastern foothills of the McPherson Range in the Tweed Volcano valley and here it’s nice if you can stop off and relax for a break in one of the gorgeous shady parks for a picnic, enjoy some boating or try your hand a little bit of fishing.
This is the last stop along Tourist Route 32. From here, you can take the highway back from Tweed, past the Gold Coast and into Brisbane.