Up Waterfall Way, pass Never Never River and venture into Promised Lands – you’ll discover the romantic monikers are perfectly justified
Bellingen is a buzzy little town straddling the gorgeous Waterfall Way, which links the serene beaches of the New South Wales mid-north coast with the escarpments of the Great Dividing Range. “Bello” to the locals, it’s had many lives, from timber-mill town and dairy hub to hippie hideout, environmentalist holdout and hipster hangout.
Logging trucks still roll through town past the hemp store, butter factory-turned-craft centre, spiffed-up Victorian and Art Deco shopfronts, and an edgy Japanese restaurant in a ramshackle wooden house. Locals sing in a Gumbaynggirr-language choir at the community centre. Hearthfire Bakery creates breads from local flours and, across the road, second-generation butchers, Thorns Gourmet Meats and Smokehouse, sell some of the country’s finest pork, beef and small goods. Local kids play in the acclaimed Bellingen Youth Orchestra when they’re not rewilding in the bush. And as the sun sets across the lime-green alluvial valley, everyone is invited to join Bello’s progressives on Friday nights at the Cedar Bar (at least in pre-Covid-19 times).