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Bangalow is one of those country gems: a picturesque, largely nineteenth-century streetscape of tall verandahed buildings, shady trees and quiet parks. Despite the Pacific Highway running directly through the town until its bypassing a few years ago, Bangalow never succumbed the way so many other once-pretty villages did. No huge service stations, fast highway food or semi-industrial ugliness.
Bangalow's historic buildings have been restored largely to their former style, retaining the wide verandahs that provide shady footpaths for al fresco dining. Restaurants, cafés, art galleries, oriental rug and antique shops now occupy the old banks and drapery stores. There is, however, still a remnant of the old country village in Bangalow, as evidenced by the CWA shop selling knitted teddies and lace doilies, the old pharmacy that retains its glass apothecary's jars and wooden benches, and the old-fashioned hardware store.
So delighted were the locals at the removal of the major highway from their town centre, that they established the Billy Cart Derby - held in May each year - which uses the town's main street, the ex-Pacific Highway, as its course. From the top of the hill near the pub the carts run downhill towards the river, careering into well-placed hay bales at the bottom. The event raises money for local causes, and even the hay is sold off at the end of the day.
Top quality restaurant fare, complemented by locally-grown (naturally low in caffeine) coffee and any number of sumptuous gourmet delights produced in the surrounding region is what you can expect here. Spice up or sweeten your day with a taste of local goodies in the restaurants and cafés interspersed along the main street. Buy some gourmet souvenirs and gifts from the array on offer: olive oil, macadamia and ginger products, coffee, tea and chai, sauces, jams and chutneys, honey, sweet juices and coulis, spices, herbs and seasonings …
You can spend a whole day just in Byron Street, choosing from a range of designer homewares, artworks and objets d'art, as well as Japanese silk kimonos, Persian carpets, Tibetan treasures and Chinese antiques. In the old stock and station agent's house you will find English antique and Australian colonial furniture: both functional and beautiful.
Tired from shopping and eating? Take a short stroll down to the river, where generations of Bangalow kids learned to swim, and sit on the grass in the shade of the magnificent trees that dominate the park. Here in this cool, verdant place you'd swear you were a million miles from suburbia and city hassles. And you are.
If you happen to be in Bangalow in November, you can't miss the Bangalow Show. Very much part of the history of the town, the Show is still about agriculture: buying, selling and showing animals, produce and craft. However, it's also about fun: fireworks, competitions and lunatic events such as A Day in the Life of a Stockman, where participants are required, among other things, to down a warm beer and eat a cold pie.
On the fourth Sunday of each month, Bangalow comes alive to the market in the showgrounds, just behind the primary school at the end of Market Street. Perhaps the most popular market on the north coast, Bangalow is famous for its shady trees and grassy enclosure showcasing yet more of the region's art, craft and produce. A shuttle bus operates on market days from Byron Bay, a twenty-minute drive away.
In short, Bangalow is the art-lover's and gourmet's paradise of Byron Shire.
How to get there:
Take the Bangalow/Lismore exit from the Pacific Highway, about 12km south of the Byron Bay exit, or 25km north of Ballina. Bangalow is only a few hundred metres from the turnoff. From Byron Bay, take Bangalow Road out of town in a southerly direction. Take a right turn between the golf course and the rugby ground, follow the road up the hill and enter the village of Bangalow from the east after about 14km.
For more information on Bangalow we reccommend you visit bangalow.com.
Regional Towns & Villages