The Northern Rivers region of NSW has everything you’re looking for in a holiday. Whether you’re wanting to go off-grid and enjoy the hinterland, soak up the coastal charm of seaside towns or power through a hike, you can do it here.
We’ve found some top picks for pet-friendly accommodation and cafes in the region. Spanning from Shaws Bay to Nambucca Heads, there’s something to suit every family and any budget.
Reflections Holiday Park Shaws Bay is the perfect place for a waterfront caravan or camping getaway. Positioned on the tranquil banks of Shaws Bay, you can enjoy views of Richmond River right from your cabin! This is also an ideal location to explore the town of Ballina and the broader region including Byron Bay, Lennox Head and Brunswick Heads. There’s no shortage of things to do, whether you’re swimming, hiking, fishing or pedalling along Ballina’s 25kms of cycle paths.
There are powered and unpowered camping and caravan sites, as well as a range of standard, deluxe and pet-friendly cabins if you want something with a few more creature comforts. Your family can take advantage of the shared laundry, camp kitchen, BBQs and children’s playground.
Dogs are permitted across the site and in selected cabins year round (just notify them when you book!) If you’ve got Fido in tow, why not head to Spit, the dog-friendly, off-leash beach? You can also pick up a pub feed at the iconic Shaws Bay Hotel.
Mango Tree Cottage is the epitome of coastal charm. Set on 6 acres of lush tropical landscape, it gives you that ‘off-the-grid’ experience and guaranteed peace and quiet. But that’s not to say you can’t make the best of the Far North Coast – you’re only a 25 minute drive from Byron and just 90 minutes from Brisbane! The cottage is self-contained and sleeps a maximum of 6 people. With two bedrooms and a sun-room with sofa bed, it’s ideal for families or friends. There’s everything you need to relax and unwind; fluffy bathrobes, complimentary bath salts and even a claw-foot bathtub. On cozy nights in, there’s plenty of DVDs and board-games, as well as a log fire.
The accommodation is totally pet-friendly and your pups are allowed inside (just not on the furniture!) Mango Tree Cottage caters for your four-legged companions with smooth cement flooring, a 50sq metre, securely fenced deck, large lawn area and massive paddock. They’ll even give you a welcome treat on arrival, along with toys, bedding and food/water bowls.
Tropical Coast Retreat gives you a little slice of bliss that will make you feel like summer can never end. Offering 4-star’s worth of self-contained luxury, it’s a 35 acre property situated near Byron Bay, Tweed Heads and Kingscliff. It boasts ocean and hinterland views, along with a 15 metre pool, 4 hole golf course and therapeutic spa. Each suite is self-catered, accommodating 2-4 guests each, with ensuite spa baths and BBQs.
Nestled in the rainforest, you’ll be soaking up the serenity of massages, saunas and kicking back with a good book. But even though you’re far from the crowds, it’s just an easy drive to all the night life, culture and entertainment the region has to offer. Pets are welcome inside the accommodation (BYO bedding!) and each suite has a fenced outdoor area so they stay totally safe.
Reflections Holiday Parks Nambucca Heads is an ideal choice for families who are looking for a comfy, convenient getaway. Located only 40 minutes from Coffs Harbour, this pet-friendly accommodation is perched atop a spectacular headland. Whether you’re whale watching and tiring your pup out on a coastal walk, the views are absolutely stunning! If your family is seeking lots of physical activity, try kayaking or canoeing on the river. The accommodation offers camping and caravan sites, as well as standard and deluxe cabins. The cabins can cater for 2 – 4 people apiece and the deluxe options are fully self-contained. Reflections Holiday Parks Nambucca Heads has all the facilities you need for a relaxing stay, including a camp kitchen, BBQ, laundry and Wifi.
Nambucca Heads is perfectly positioned to explore the Northern River’s region. You can enjoy a spectacular scenic drive along the Waterfall Way or explore the historic towns of Bellingen and Dorrigo. Your pup is totally welcome – just make sure you book a pet-friendly cabin. There’s plenty of space to explore on site, as well as surrounding creeks and bushland.
This iconic venue offers panoramic views over Pop Dennison Park and is the ideal destination for Sunday sessions like no other! Boasting the largest beer garden on the North Coast, Shaws Bay Hotel is a local favourite with a great selection of beers on offer. The Shipwreck Restaurant and Grill has a quality lunch and dinner menu, as well as weekly specials. Choose from bistro classics like beer battered whiting fillet, beef burgers, schnitzel and Caesar salads. Or step things up a notch with slow-cooked pork belly and sweet potato mash, seeded mustard and rosemary marinated lamb rump or prosciutto-wrapped chicken breast with feta, sun-dried tomato and char-grilled veg. There’s a super affordable kids menu featuring crowd-pleasers like battered fish, chicken nuggets and ham and pineapple pizza.
Pets are welcome in the beer gardens, where they too can relax to the sounds of live music on a Sunday! They just need to be kept on a leash when in the venue. You can check out the NRL, AFL or Super Rugby on one of three 75-inch TVs. If the kids feel like having a run around, why not enjoy a game of beach volleyball, or explore the ‘pirate shipwreck’! The Shaws Bay Hotel is open daily.
It’s no exaggeration to say that Bayleaf Cafe is one of the most iconic breakfast destinations in the Northern Rivers region. The folks here really believe that dining out is an experience. They take theirs to the next level with an evolving menu, friendly service and ultimate tunes! The cafe has a relaxed, trendy charm all its own, and is proud to support local businesses who supply their sustainable meats, artisan sourdoughs and home-grown avos.
The menu features faves like eggs benny, sweet corn fritters, house-made bircher muesli and BLATs complete with smoked paprika aioli and spicy tomato relish. You also can’t go past the split pea and herb falafel with poached eggs, sumac and baked harissa. Their drinks are innovative and ever-changing; the coconut-infused iced coffee is definitely worth a try!
Pups are welcome to recline next to the outdoor tables. You can visit Bayleaf 7am – 2.30pm daily.