Amazing local food produce and the lush countryside around the Never Never help to make Bellingen number 36 on Australian Traveller’s ‘100 amazing places you haven’t been to yet‘. Nominated by: Patrick Higgins, AT travel journalist; Di Morrissey, author; Deb Knight, Nine Network presenter.

Fed by crystal clear waters of the whimsically named Never Never River, Bellingen and its beautifully lush surrounds are a place where you can “set your inner flower child free,” says Pat Higgins, “and stuff your face with the most amazing local produce at the same time.”

He lists The Hyde Wine and Food Bar, No.5 Church Street and the Federal Hotel as his top eats. But there’s plenty more to see and do besides that, says Deb Knight, who grew up nearby, and was married in the area.

Write these directions down: Head along Gleniffer Road, past the community church (“it’s the church that inspired the novel Oscar and Lucinda, and it’s just divine,” Knight says), over the old wooden railway bridge, which spans the Never Never River, and into the area known as the Promised Land – that’s where you’ll find three of the “most beautiful little timber cottages (from $250 a night),” she says.

Set on a 40-hectare property, “they’re basic, but they have incredible views of this lush, green environment, and it is so peaceful and tranquil.”

Also nearby is what Di Morrissey calls “the ultimate picnic spot”, on the banks of the stunning Never Never River. Angel Gabriel Capararo Reserve is where “ancient lichen and fern-encrusted trees line the creek’s banks, leaning at a convenient angle as if looking at their reflections in the crystal stream,” she says. “The simplicity of the setting, the lack of an imprint of yesterday or many yesterdays gives it a special charm.”

She advises you to pack a swag of fresh, local treats, set out your picnic under the casuarina trees, and settle down for a lazy afternoon, watching the local kids taking it in turns to leap off the local rope-swing, from which they drop into the deep, clear water.

Australian Traveller Issue 62

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