Bangalow, NSW

Bangalow, NSW
Photo credit: Jan Smith

A rest in between winding roads, a place that slopes down the entire length of its ‘low hill’ after which it was named – Bangalow, NSW, is an often damp, verdant town that has an unmistakable heritage feel about it.

Here quaint knick-knack shops, quality coffee and the tropical charm of a well-to-do village fit snugly amongst the hills of the Northern Rivers. For it’s a visually attractive town that entices the affluent who are keen for a more sedentary existence, or who perhaps miss the allure of the English countryside and want a dash of the tropics.

The town’s name allegedly derives from the word “Bangalla”, meaning ‘a low hill’ in the language of the Banjalang people who lived there prior to settlement in 1840. From this point, cedar cutters moved in, into what was a temporary settlement that wasn’t established until 1880.

Over the years, the town grew via the likes of butter, before its name became Bangalow. Today it’s rated “one of Australia’s happiest towns”, and has become something of a seachanger’s haven.

Yes, Bangalow, NSW, lies about 15 minutes drive from the ocean, 12 kilometres west of its more illustrious neighbour, Byron Bay. Apart from this idyllic location, a prominent town attraction is its charming monthly market, which sits beneath 11 handsome laurel trees that lend it a magical, Eden-like atmosphere.

Bangalow, NSW
Photo credit: Katjung

The market itself is also one of the region’s finest, being of substantial size, while providing a tip-top range of food, clothing, and various items. The site also holds regular food and wine markets of high-quality, but you have to be quick, as hordes of culinary aficionados descend upon the stalls in a salivating frenzy.

I made coffee in town for such folk, for three months, and they were friendly on the whole. Here I learnt that Kerry O’Brien (prominent Australian journalist) likes a hot skim flat-white, and Leo Sayer is a nice bloke, as he exclaimed “you’re cool man!” When I dropped a coffee cup and it splintered over his ankles.

Although like many other towns, it’s the little things that set Bangalow apart, which often take a more leisurely wander to discover. There’s the guy who wears a garish collection of suits (often pink), who sits on a particular bench, even in summer, beneath a vast, glittering sombrero.

Then there’s the walk behind town, near the church, that swoops through a marshy forest, beneath towering laurel trees and luxuriant foliage – a scene which could look quite at home in Ecuador if not for the dainty garden bench.

Yes, Bangalow, NSW, is certainly worth a visit, even for just an hour.

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