North Coast Parks & Reserves

From the imposing spire of Mount Warning set like a gem in the circle of caldera rim rainforests, to the broad sweeping beaches of coastal national parks, the Northern Rivers area offers visitors an exciting and rewarding experience.

World Heritage listing bestowed on the parks of the caldera is testimony to their significance as places of great natural and cultural value.

Billinudgel Nature Reserve

Located 5 kilometres north of Brunswick Heads, this reserve contains an important area of coastal forest wetland and provides a refuge for many threatened animals. Protected within the reserve are significant Aboriginal sites.

No public facilities are yet provided.

Tooloom National Park

The extensive subtropical rainforest and forest red gum stands protected within this World Heritage park provide suitable habitat for the most diverse kangaroo and wallaby population found anywhere in Australia. Access is best via the sealed Urbenville to Koreelah Road. A picnic area and two short walking tracks have been developed. The park offers superb bushwalking, bird watching and photographic opportunities

Toonumbar National Park

The park is noted for its unique and complex natural environment. Much of this complexity is due to volcanic activity associated with the now extinct Focal Peak volcano. The park contains two World Heritage listed rainforests which, together with extensive stands of old growth flooded gum, support over 400 plant and over 100 animal species, many of which are endangered. The park is largely undeveloped, although opportunities exist for bushwalking and car touring with picnic and camping facilities at Iron Pot Creek. Car touring is only advisable during dry weather.

Mount Jerusalem National Park

Covering 5,168 hectares this park is located 32 kilometres south-west of Murwillumbah, close to Nightcap National Park. The park includes part of the rim of the Mount Warning shield volcano. It contains a diverse range of habitats including subtropical rainforest, as well as wet and dry sclerophyll forest. A number of rare birds and animals dependent on old growth moist forest are found here. Mount Jerusalem National Park is presently undeveloped and has no visitor facilities.

Brunswick Heads Nature Reserve

Situated either side of the Brunswick River, north of Brunswick Heads. Access is just off the Pacific Highway north of the river or via North Head Road from Ocean Shores. This reserve offers the magical combination of beach, estuary and littoral rainforest. It is the ideal location for a bushwalk, swim, a spot of fishing or a picnic.

Cape Byron State Recreation Area

Standing on the most easterly point of the Australian mainland is the Cape Byron Reserve, with its unsurpassed panoramic ocean and north coast hinterland views. A spectacular cliff top walk provides outstanding vantage points for viewing a variety of marine life including turtles, dolphins and humpback whales on their annual migration. Experience the diverse coastal plant communities, including rainforest that stretches right down to the beach.

See the Cape Byron Lighthouse and stay the night in the lighthouse keeper’s quarters. Bookings are essential 02 6685 6552.

Koreelah National Park

Experience the most westerly occurrence of rainforest in NSW in this border region park, 30 kilometres west of Woodenbong off the Summerland Way. Pockets of World Heritage listed rainforest hug the steep slopes below Acacia Plateau and Mt Wilson, while a small grassy area beside Trough Creek provides a pleasant bushcamping spot. You might be lucky enough to see the endangered Coxen’s fig-parrot, eastern bristle bird or black-tailed wallaby.

Wilson Nature Reserve

One of the eleven major Big Scrub remnants, this reserve covers an area of 27 hectares. The walking track can be entered from Wyrallah Road or the reservoir on City View Drive in Lismore. Wilson Nature Reserve contains the only significant patch of dry rainforest left from the original Big Scrub, and is also one of the best spots to see koalas.

Tyagarah Nature Reserve

Eight kilometres of secluded and unspoilt beach backed by coastal heath await visitors to this reserve. Reached by turning off the Pacific Highway ten kilometres north of Byron Bay at Gray’s Lane. Picnic facilities are provided. This is the perfect place for a quiet walk or a spot of bird watching or fishing.

Boatharbour Nature Reserve

Around the turn of the 20th century, Boatharbour served as a base camp and loading facility for timber getters working in the Big Scrub. Today a paved wheelchair access walk and viewing platform provide a glimpse of yesteryear when steamships collected the towed logs from this site. Just 6 kilometres from Lismore on the Bangalow Road, this reserve is ideal for day visits. Barbecues, tables, toilets and water are all provided in a scenic and relaxing environment. Park use fee applies.

Moore Park Nature Reserve

Located just off the Summerland Way near Old Grevillia 26 kilometres north-west of Kyogle. This tiny reserve is the most important example of black bean rainforest in NSW and is all that remains of an area once known as Boyd’s Scrub. The reserve is also one of the only examples of gallery rainforest in the region and supports a large seasonal bat colony. It is a great place for a bushwalk and a family picnic. Water, toilets, tables and a shelter shed are provided.

Iluka Nature Reserve

This World Heritage area preserves the largest stand of littoral rainforest in NSW. Located just to the north of the coastal village of Iluka, this unique area is ideal for a day visit. Picnic facilities are provided at Iluka Bluff where a 2.5 kilometre walking track explores the forest and links with the village of Iluka.

Mebbin National Park

Sharing its western boundary with the Border Ranges National Park this park forms part of the caldera rim of the eroded Mount Warning volcano. Located 30 kilometres south-west of Murwillumbah, Mebbin contains significant areas of rainforest and old growth forest. Enjoy a picnic or camp at Mebbin Rest Area, where a 450 metre walk to Byrrill Creek takes visitors through a stand of ancient figs.

Tooloom Falls Aboriginal Place

This special place is steeped in Aboriginal mythology concerning the creation of the Clarence River, and remains significant to Aboriginal people today. Above the falls there are basic camping facilities including pit toilets and barbecues.

Lennox Head Aboriginal Area

An Aboriginal bora ground and sacred site is situated in the heart of the modern coastal village of Lennox Head. The Arakwal people, whose lands make up this area, once utilised the abundant resources of plants and animals.

One of the two bora rings originally on the site remains and the earthen mound defining it is clearly visible. The bora ground is tangible evidence of the rich Arakwal culture and was used for ceremonial purposes and as a male initiation site. It remains a significant sacred site for the Arakwal and Bundjalung people

The Lennox Head Aboriginal Area protects part of the region’s coastal heath and melaleuca plant communities. It is located in Gibbon Street off the Lennox Head to Byron Bay Road.

Mooball National Park

This park has subtropical rainforest covering one third of its 1,130 hectare area, with wet sclerophyll forest comprising the remainder. Although located just off the Pacific Highway some 12 kilometres south of Murwillumbah, Mooball is home to a wide variety of threatened fauna such as the long-nosed potoroo, red-legged pademelon, marbled frogmouth, giant barred frog and Stephen’s banded snake. There are no formal walking tracks or picnic facilities, but enjoy a stroll along the roads and fire trails.

Minjungbal Aboriginal Cultural Centre

A wheelchair access walk weaves through the mangroves and out over the water before returning to a well preserved bora ring. An Aboriginal museum and gift shop is open 7 days a week with a nominal admission fee. The centre provides picnic tables, electric barbecues and toilets for visitors and is reached by turning off the Pacific Highway at South Tweed Heads into Kirkwood Road. For further information phone 07 5524 2109.

More information

There are a number of newly created national parks in the Northern Rivers Region of NPWS, including Bungawalbin, Goonengerry, Mount Clunie, Mount Jerusalem. Mount Nothofagus and Yabbra national parks. These have limited tracks and other visitor facilities at this stage, so access is limited.

Information provided by National Parks & Wildlife Services

Photo: John Spencer