As if you needed another reason to visit the Byron Bay region, it’s also great for motorcycle riding
There is plenty to like about the far north coast of NSW, and when you’re done with working on your suntan at the incredible beaches, you can find some great riding roads just a little inland. The Hinterland Way is an excellent example of some of the secondary roads snaking through the rolling hills just west of Byron Bay, so we linked it up with a few other smaller access roads to make this fantastic little loop ride, complete with panoramic views and a good pub for lunch.
If you start this ride at Byron Bay, the best option is to head south from town and then take the Bangalow Road on the right, which takes you away from the coast along a scenic ridgeline. There are views back across the town, as well as the beaches and hills stretching to the north. This is a nice way to work into the ride with some good corners on a smooth bitumen surface.
When you reach the Pacific Motorway, ride through the underpass, then turn immediately right onto the Hinterland Way. Follow this road for 3.5km, then look for the turn-off on your left marked Coolamon Scenic Drive. There is a lookout right on the intersection that offers great views across the valley to the hills that follow the coastline up towards the Queensland border. The road surface from here is good with sweeping bends but no lanes marked, so take care of oncoming traffic.
At about the 19km mark you take a right turn towards Mullumbimby, passing a turn-off to the Crystal Palace Castle tourist attraction. The road is very scenic, with views either side as you ride along the ridge and eventually into the town of Mullumbimby.
There is fuel and food available on the main street of Mullumbimby, and at the far end a left turn opposite the Liberty servo keeps you heading north. The road narrows from here before tightening up into a series of slow hairpins through a heavily treed area.
Once you’ve passed under the M1 motorway, turn immediately left onto the Brunswick Valley Way and follow this road for a few kilometres until you get to a left-turn sign for The Pocket. This takes you through the small community of Billinudgel, which has a great pie shop and a pub that is popular with weekend riders.
Heading west from the Billinudgel pub, take the right turn onto The Pocket Road and follow the narrow strip of bitumen past small farms and over several single-lane causeways that take you past the local school.
The road becomes heavily potholed through here, but is sealed and just requires a bit of care as you navigate around the worst of the broken bitumen before emerging at the small community of Main Arm, where the road surface improves. There is a general store, bottlo and café in Main Arm, as well as camping options.
From here the road is a series of narrow straight stretches between large flood-prone paddocks as it leads you back to the main street of Mullumbimby. From here it is a short hop back onto the Pacific Motorway to return to Byron Bay, or north if you are touring further afield.
Whether this is part of a longer ride or just a few hours out playing, there are some great sections of quiet road to enjoy and lots of opportunities for a drink and something to eat, all while soaking up the laidback feel of the Byron Bay hinterland.
There is plenty of fuel at the start of this ride, as well as in several towns along the route. The ride distance is only 60km back to Mullumbimby so is well within any fuel tank range. Food and drink is widely available and you can even stay out around Main Arm if you want to spend some time in the area away from the relative hustle and bustle of Byron Bay itself.
Main Arm Mechanical just out of the town of Mullumbimby is the only workshop we saw along the route that might offer some basic help or tools during the week. The distances are short, though, so you should be able to get to Byron Bay or another major centre if you get into strife. Just remember to always carry a basic tyre plugging kit on country rides like this one.
Blind Mouth Valley Café located within the general store at Main Arm does a range of meals as well as coffee – 890 Main Arm Rd, Main Arm Ph: (02) 6684 5588
Humble Pie at Billinudgel has a range of gourmet pies, juices and coffee – 1 Mogo Place, Billinudgel Ph: (02) 6680 1082
Liberty Fuel Station
– 44 Dalley St, Mullumbimby
Ph: (02) 6684 2315
BP Byron Bay is open 24 hours – Ewingsdale Road, Byron Bay
Ph: (02) 6680 7923
Maca’s Camping Ground – 1156 Main Arm Road, Main Arm is a cheap accommodation option and the general store/café there has all the supplies you need for a one- or two-day stay.
Ph: (02) 6684 5211
Billinudgel Hotel has accommodation options as well as food Ph: (02) 6680 1148
A bit further up the M1 motorway you can turn left and head back through the hinterland on the Tweed Valley Way, which takes you into Murwillumbah and the north-eastern end of the fabulous Kyogle Road. You could do much worse than head back down this road to Kyogle and create a much larger riding loop along some excellent motorcycling bitumen featuring several sections of corners that we are still smiling about as we recall the ride months later.
Things to do
The Crystal Castle and Shambhala Gardens near Mullumbimby is a popular tourist stop with a lot of different attractions to look at as you wander through the property. There is heaps to see, including a huge Buddha statue, enchanted cave, massive crystal display, and a café. An adult day pass costs $28 and you can easily spend a couple of hours looking around and enjoying the views of the surrounding area.
The Byron Bay Brewery is a good spot for a drink and a feed, and runs free tours on Saturdays and Sundays at 2pm, as well as having live music.