Driving to Byron Bay from the Gold Coast goes together like bacon and eggs but it’s truly amazing how many paths can get you there. This itinerary leads you through the majestic Gold Coast Hinterland via the Currumbin Valley and Tomewin before winding down to Murwillumbah and returning to the coast at Byron Bay. We’ll cover some of the top spots to include, but as this region is a treasure trove of natural wonders and places to stop we think you may need to visit more than once to truly experience all there is to see and do.
Leave the highway and get on to Currumbin Creek Road at the southern end of the Gold Coast. In a matter of minutes you will be in the hinterland winding your way up into the mountains. One thing that will hit you along this entire journey is the brilliant green formed by both lush rainforest and fertile farming land which leaves little question as to why this region is known as “The Green Cauldron”. Scattered along this way are some truly beautiful opportunities to stop, breathe and cool down. Babbling creeks running with crystal clean water, quaint coffee and gift shops and BBQ and picnic areas abound. Watch for the signs to our top picks:
Nicholls Scrub National Park – Great for families with birdlife including geese and ducks for feeding.
Currumbin Rock Pools – Pack your swimmers and BBQ goodies for these natural pools loved by locals for cooling off over the summer months.
Follow the signs onto Tomewin Mountain Road to begin your climb up and over the next valley. The air becomes fresher as you climb and get closer to the NSW border and it is here you will find an icon of mountain life and the most scenic place to buy fruit anywhere – Freeman’s Fruit Stall. Run by the 4th generation of the Freeman family you can pick up fresh organic produce for the road, grown in the fertile volcanic mountain soil. The Arthur Freeman Lookout on the QLD side of the border and Elliot Gruner Lookout on the NSW side of the border let you see the entire scope of this ancient landscape from the Gold Coast down to the Tweed and offer views that are truly awe inspiring.
Pass through the historic town of Tomewin, and take a pitstop at the Red Rattlers Gallery. This gorgeous cafe and gallery is filled with local arts and crafts and is built in two vintage 1928 rail carriages affectionately known as “red rattlers”. Stop for coffee or browse for gifts to take home. Then it’s full steam ahead as the road descends from the mountains and enters the pioneer sugar cane and banana growing town of Murwillumbah. The heart of the Tweed Valley, its unique blend of eateries and galleries is mixed with old fashioned country charm. You could easily spend a few hours browsing and soaking up the atmosphere or just lazing beside the river with a view of Mt Warning in the distance. The Rainforest Information Centre is home to a unique panoramic display expertly painted by local artists that offers visitors a 360 degree simulation of the view from the top of Mt Warning.
Leaving Murwillumbah you’ll head towards Byron Bay via Moobal and the Burringbar Range. This was the original highway but is now a scenic drive that takes you back to the true essence of the Northern Rivers and away from the freeway. The Moo Moo Café in Moobal is very hard to miss with its cow print exterior and is a cute spot to make one last stop before your destination.
Arrive in Byron Bay with a sense of satisfaction that you’ve just unlocked some of South East QLD and Northern NSW’s hidden secrets. Then make the most of this great journey with a stress free stay so close to beach you can hear the waves. But there’s no hurry AND you can always take the scenic road home!