Bellingen can be found at the start of the Waterfall Way in New South Wales. It is about 15km inland from Uranga and 40km south west of Coffs Harbour and is perfect for a half day trip from Coffs Harbour or even to spend a couple of nights if you are looking for a relaxed spot. If you don’t have much time available at least stop off for a look on the way to or from Dorrigo or Armidale along the Waterfall Way.
The main street runs uphill through the town and is lined with small shops and a few cafes.
There is a didgeridoo shop on this street run by a very friendly man who takes time out every now and then to ‘go bush’ to find timber to make them. He specifically looks for logs which have been hollowed out by termites. He will show you how to blow into them to make some “music”. He also claims to be the only person to have sent a didgeridoo into space but you’d need to ask him about that! If you buy a didgeridoo from him he will arrange to have it posted to your home for you if required. There are also many other wonderful craft items in his shop such as Aboriginal art work and beautiful carvings and you’ll be lucky to walk out of there without buying something!
You can walk down to the Bellinger river either along the road to Gleniffer or down behind the YHA. It is very pretty and you can swim on either side of the bridge that crosses the river. You can also hire canoes just by the bridge and have a guided tour on the river or just paddle around on your own. Either way I’m sure this would be a very relaxing way to pass some time.
There are a few cafes on Church Street which are quiet and shaded such as the Swiss Patisserie and Bakery, The Boiling Billy and The Sis de Lane Cafe and they all have tables and chairs both outside and in. They are very popular for Sunday brunch especially when the weather is good but close quite early. There are also a few places on the main street one of which does homemade lemonade! Pub wise the main options are the Federation Hotel which has a verandah which is a lovely place to enjoy a drink and chill out and the Diggers Tavern on the main street.
If you do want to spend a night or two in Bellingen there is a YHA and a few motels and guesthouses. The YHA is in a very quiet spot with lots of trees around it and a lovely garden to sit in and while away a few hours, days or weeks. Bellinger Valley Lodge Motor Inn is a good choice if you are looking for motel style accommodation as is the Diggers Tavern which is on the main street. You will also find a few B&Bs dotted around.
There is a large community market held in Bellingen on the 3rd Saturday of every month. There is live music, entertainment for all the family and lots of foods stalls with something for all tastes and budgets. Stalls also include lots of handmade crafts, local produce and much more.
On the 2nd and 4th Saturday of each month there is a natural produce market which has stalls selling organic foods, locally grown fruit and veggies and a range of alternative medicines.
Continuing on from Bellingen you can take the road to Gleniffer which itself is no more than a few houses, a church and a community hall but beyond that there is an 11km loop road called The Promised Land Loop which is definitely well named. It is unsealed in places but it is a beautiful drive with great views of the mountains and some lovely crossings of the Never Never Creek which has very clear water. We sat by the creek which was such a peaceful and idyllic spot and had our picnic lunch. We drove back via Valery but I wouldn’t recommend that route as the road is unsealed and was in a very poor condition when we used it. Better to drive back through Bellingen the way you came.
For more information about Bellingen check out the official website.