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Tourist Drives to dreamland

November 17, 2014 - Ballina Coast & Hinterland

I read once that everyone has travelled some part of America’s Route 66 – “if only in their dreams”.

In a way, the same goes for the Tourist Drives linking attractions on the beautiful Ballina Coast and Hinterland of Northern NSW.

Besides acting as a convenient guidebook, these drives can also show visitors the countryside of their dreams

This was soon apparent over the past few days as we explored both coastal and hinterland tourist drives – and found remarkable beauty in each.

Hinterland Tourist Drive 28 runs between the quaint riverside town of Wardell and the glorious Alstonville Plateau.

As it leaves the village atmosphere of Wardell, the route passes through lush rolling hill country peppered with the homes of fortunate locals. Looking out the car windows, our envy was obvious.

In many places, the drive resembled roads in Southern England, with dense trees and vegetation from either side almost meeting overhead in a green tunnel.

Ballina Coast and Hinterland was once part of a massive rainforest known as The Big Scrub and one of the last remaining remnants can be found along the drive – at the Victoria Park Nature Reserve.

The reserve has a boardwalk – easily accessible even to travellers of our vintage – that takes you deep into impossibly tall and thick vegetation, including snaking Figs, palms and ferns.

We made use of the reserve’s picnic facilities, enjoying the cool rainforest atmosphere, the unending chorus of birds and the antics of small marsupials known as Red Necked Pademelons.

Then we rejoined Hinterland Tourist Drive 28, bound for the Summerland House Farm, at Alstonville.

Set on 172 acres, Summerland House Farm is a working Macadamia and Avocardo property that serves a tremendous community service role.

As a House With No Steps business enterprise, the farm is dedicated to providing employment opportunities for people with a disability.

From there, it was only a short drive down to The Macadamia Castle at Knockrow – an eye-opening attraction based around Australia’s own Macadamia nut.

A couple of days later, we set out to follow Tourist Drive 30 from Ballina Headland and Lighthouse north to Lennox Head and marvelled at the breath-taking coastal scenery linked by this route.

Tourist Drive 30 takes the traveller to gems such as Pat Morton Lookout, where we soaked up the view of sweeping beaches and watched para gliders soaring above the cliff tops.

These tourist drives are wonderful for visitors because they bring together a range of attractions in a relatively short and well signposted run. Like America’s Route 66, each of these drives certainly still kicks.

This unfortunately brought down the curtain on our time in Ballina Coast and Hinterland. Thank you to everyone involved. It has been a privilege.