My family hails from Mullumbimby so I have family down there that we have been visiting since the 1960’s.
It would’ve been 1973 or 1974, I would’ve been 7 or 8 years old and most school holidays we would go down for a visit/holiday to the Northern Rivers often staying with family in Mullumbimby or in a unit in Brunswick Heads.
We lived in Aspley on the Northside if Brisbane, and a trip down to the Northern Rivers in those days was still an adventure. We didn’t have all the new highways and bypasses in Brisbane, on the Gold Coast and down through Tweed and all the way through to Byron Bay. I want to say it was about 2 1/2 to 3 hour trip depending on traffic and crossing the border. Crossing the border, every vehicle had to declare any fruits and vegetables that were not allowed into the state. It often involved cars and trucks being fully inspected which would cause big delays.
The next point of noting was The Burringbar Ranges. In those days there were dangerous with tiny narrow (often one way) but steep roads with sheer drops to the farmlands and forest below. They were many stopping points, blind spots and it was a drama to drive over them safely in the summer, let alone raining or cold foggy conditions.
Then a favoured spot, going through Mooball. It was a family tradition my grandfather started, you had to Moo loudly out the window when you drove into Mooball, I thought that was the best and happily did that my entire childhood and did it again with my own son many years later. These days Mooball has all it’s buildings on a stretch of road there painted with the jersey cow print, and I think that was a lovely little touch.
More familiar turns in the road until you reach the turn offs to Oceans Shores and Billinudgel. My grandfather signed up for WW1 in the Billinudgel Pub. He was living in Mullumbimby at the time. My head even then glanced right so I could see the Billinudgel Pub as we drove on by. As for Oceans Shore, Dad later bought land there.
Then onto a familiar bridge between Ocean Shores and Brunswick Heads with view of the breakwater on your left and Mt.Chincogan on the right. Always beautiful and always a picturesque little spot.
We stayed in units in Brunswick Heads in the 70’s. Swims at Brunswick, fish and chip lunches or dinners fresh from the trawlers, or fancy dinner at The Heidelberg Inn Motel’s Restaurant. the annual Prawn Festival every Summer. All the purple soldier crabs (in their thousands) near the old bridge across to the breakwater (they are gone now from a chemical spill in Mullumbimby that washed through to Brunswick Heads.
Just round the coast and up the road is Byron Bay, my great uncle ran the Lighthouse for a time in the 40’s for a while. I loved going up to the lighthouse, it felt like it was mine with the family working there connection. I always enjoyed all the wild goats clinging lovingly to the cliff side on the Cape.
Suffolk Park didn’t really exist back then. Where the Byron at Byron now stands used to be a little tourist place called ‘The Everglades’. Wetlands with animals you could see whilst paddling up swampy water in Paddle Boats.
But this trip wasn’t to Byron or Suffolk Park. Today, once into Brunswick Heads we went inland to Mullumbimby.