A short 10km off the Pacific Highway at Ballina, you will find the Alstonville and Wollongbar Plateau. Alstonville is a pleasant hinterland village surrounded by rolling hills and farmlands where a variety of produce is grown, including avocados and macadamia nuts. A hidden gem of the region, filled with heritage buildings and beautiful gardens. Closeby is the ever-expanding village of Wollongbar surrounded by lust farming regions and home of the local TAFE and agricultural research facility. The plateau is a must-visit for tourists with delightful local attractions, accommodation, walking trails, shopping, historical buildings and fine dining.
While visiting our region, venture out to nearby Victoria Park. A 17.5-hectare remnant of the ‘Big Scrub’, the original rainforest that once covered the entire area. It was the Big Scrub that first attracted Europeans, particularly the beautiful ‘red gold’ timber from the Australian red cedar. The timber was channelled down Duck Creek to the Richmond River, then shipped to Ballina and the world. Many of eastern Australia’s historic houses have cedar doors, windows, architraves and staircases, along with being furnished with tables, sideboards and wardrobes made from this dark red and durable timber.
Another tourist attraction must, is a visit to the historic Crawford House Museum. Built in 1910 for William Ambrose Crawford and his bride Olive this heritage-listed house is apart of the Alstonville Heritage Trail. The self-guided walking trail features seventeen heritage and historical landmarks dating back to the 1890s. For further details about the Heritage Trail, visit the Alstonville Plateau Historical Society website: www.aphsmuseum.org.au
The plateau region was settled by Europeans during the 1860s when cedar cutters moved into the hinterland. By 1865, Andrew Freeborn and his brother Thomas had settled and were farming in the district known then as Duck Creek Mountain. A later settler, John Perry, named his home after his wife, Annie Alston, and the name stuck resulting in the emerging township becoming Alstonville.
Alstonville has given its name to a variety of Tibouchina's, a plant native to Brazil, which has intense purple flowers. The late Ken Dunstan bred the plant that has become synonymous with the North Coast town, and flowers over a long period throughout autumn, adding brilliant colour to the village and the wider region. For more information on the history of Alstonville and Wollongbar, click on the Alstonville Plateau Historical Society website button below.
Home of the 'Big Prawn', Ballina is our regions much loved seaside location. A centre of social and business activity, the township is surrounded by natural beauty and full of local attractions. Ballina is a popular tourist destination for its pristine beaches, surfing and fishing lifestyle, accommodation, walking trails, heritage landmarks and shopping. Venture out to the North Wall, a perfect sunset backdrop to watch the fishing trawlers cruise in and out of the river. During your walk on the wall, you may also see pelicans and dolphins splashing in the pristine waters and if you are lucky, Humpback Whales during their annual migration.
Started your journey by visiting the friendly staff at the Ballina Information Centre. You will find an endless source of information on local villages, popular attractions, accommodation, produce, shopping, events and more. One such attraction is a visit to the Ballina Naval and Maritime Museum, where you can view a preserved Las Balsas raft which was towed into Ballina by fishing trawlers in 1973. The museum manages the local maritime and mariners history and the hosts the largest naval and merchant ship model collection in Australia. Afterwards, experience the local waters for yourself with a popular local scenic cruise on the Richmond River with Out of the Blue Adventures.
While exploring the region, make sure to visit the Macadamia Castle at Knockrow. An ideal outing for the whole day filled with entertainment. Visit some furry friends at the castles animal park, play a round of mini-golf, browse the retail store and enjoy great food from the Cafe. Another destination is Thursday Plantation, where you will discover the power of nature's pure oils. The visitor centre is a unique destination for the whole family. Journey around the handcrafted Tea Tree Maze, sample tasty local delights on the Verandah Cafe and purchase factory specials in their gift shop.
During the 1840s, Ballina was established on the Northern shore of the Richmond River. During the 1860s, Ballina constructed a temporary lighthouse to serve as an essential port for the region, named the Richmond River Light. Still active to date, a permanent lighthouse replaced this structure which was first lit in the 1980s.
The townships name of 'Ballina' was originally from an Aboriginal word meaning "place of many oysters". The name still represents the area, with many oyster leases and commercial fisheries continuing high productivity in the region. For more information on the history of Ballina, click on the Ballina Historical Society website button below.
The Northern Rivers expands from Grafton to Tweed Heads in the Far North of New South Wales, and features the best of both country and coast. A pleasant climate and an abundance of magical coastline the Northern Rivers is the perfect holiday destination. Also referred to as the Green Coast, the Northern Rivers is located an easy 1-hour drive from the Gold Coast, and 2 hours from Brisbane.