Head for the hills
When we first moved to Byron Bay many moons ago, all we wanted to do was explore. So we jumped in our cars to head for the hills. It might sound like a cliché, but our reality looked like the stuff of our daydreams; waterfalls, swimming holes, quaint little villages with the yummiest wholefood and hunting for treasure in artisan stores were all on the agenda. And not much has changed. A trip to the hills is always a good idea, and we’d love to show you one of our favourite spots: Federal. So, whether you are a local or are reading this from the other side of the world, come and take our tour of this creative hub and natural wonderland.
You’re about to be on ‘hills time’
You can’t deny that Byron Bay is almost magnetic in its beauty, but there is plenty to see just beyond the coast. Federal is an easy 23 km from Byron along the Coolamon Scenic Drive – and ‘scenic’ it is. Your first stop should be the lookout as you first turn on to Coolamon Scenic Drive. There are stunning 360-degree views of the coast, Wollumbin (Mount Warning) and lush rolling hills. Take a deep breath and relax. You’re about to be on ‘hills time’.
On the road to Federal
Drive through the winding hinterland roads with banks of wildflowers, corridors of trees, breathtaking views of the ocean and Byron Bay lighthouse and before long you will find yourself in Federal. It’s safe to say that this is not your typical country town. Artists looking for space to create, join families, hippies, baby boomer sea changers and everyone else you could imagine who have come for a more ‘country soul’ type lifestyle.
Doma Café for lunch
Stop in for lunch at Doma (3/6 Albert Street, Federal). Doma was opened by Japanese chefs Takayuki Kuramoto and Takashi Yaguchi in 2012 and is often described as a Japanese/Australian fusion. Everything here is good. You simply cannot make a mistake so pick a spot in the garden and enjoy. Don’t take our word for it though. This humble little café has even been very positively reviewed in the New York Times.
Time for a caffeine hit
Moonshine Roasters is a small, family-owned and operated roastery and espresso bar. They’ve been roasting in the hills for close to a decade and supply loads of the cafes in Byron Bay. Is it time for a coffee? Or a chai? Pop into their House of Shine (447 Federal Drive, Federal) to refuel before you get involved in some retail therapy.
Retail therapy, hills style
With its rustic tin walls and sky-high bush poles, The Hills Emporium (441 Federal Drive, Federal) would be worth a visit, even if it didn’t house the most covetable collections of artisan-made fashion and interiors. Owners Kaidee and Bulan make and source items that resonate with their ethical and sustainable ethos and all we can say is… “yes”.
Wild swimming under a spectacular waterfall
Is it time for a wander through the bush and perhaps a swim under a 104 metre tall waterfall? Yes, it is. Minyon Falls (Nightcap National Park) is a hop, skip and a jump from Federal but please take care on the roads; they can be slippery if there has been heavy rainfall. There is a lookout with the most glorious views from the top of the falls, as well as lots of micro walks in and around the national park. It’s possible (and wonderful) to swim at the base of the falls or in a pool further down. We all love a wild swim, but some things to remember are that rocks can be slippery and the winds can be wild if the falls are really pumping. The other thing to consider is sunscreen and bug spray – both can disastrously upset the balance of delicate ecosystems.
Federal, we love you
So that’s Federal. Not bad for a village with a population of 700. We hope you have a great day out!