The Promised Land – The northern NSW journey to the Promised Land


Urban Australians – and that’s by far the majority of us – have visions. Hardwired within us are fanciful vistas conjured up in daydreams: vast acreages of undulating green, verdant land, partially farmed and partially untrammelled in a pleasingly variegated patchwork, all of it framed by gently beckoning oceanscapes.

Every Australian state has its version of The Promised Land. If you happened to grow up in Sydney, your dreamtime dalliances may have wandered south as far as the peaceful dairy farmlands of the Bega Valley, almost at the Victorian border . . . or maybe south-west to the dramatically fertile Kangaroo Valley, spanning the Southern Highlands and the near South Coast . . . and perhaps any number of other places. More universally, and more fervently, people looked northwards up the coast . . . further, and always still further, because the grass would always be (literally) greener, the water warmer, the hinterland ever more soothing upon the eye . . . and for those interested in surfing, the long right-hand sand-bottomed point breaks ever more impossibly perfect.

The mind’s journey would culminate at Byron Bay and then divert west to describe an arc subtending the loveliest of towns – such as Bangalow, Mullumbimby, Federal, Nimbin – and onward to the staggering lushness of the Tweed Valley; then it would meander back down the coast road through Kingscliff and Pottsville and Brunswick Heads and back to Byron, a place that would always be the epitome of all that magical imagery, with its superb pearl-white crescent of coastline and misty mountainous backdrop. This was the dream incarnate: The Promised Land. It still is.
Where the mind aspires, the body will follow. Travelling north along the coast is the ritualistic privilege of everyman – from caravanning families to soul-seeking surfers to feral hippies and every other kind of seeker. Just about everyone does it, and a great many never come back.
Where does the real “North Coast magic” begin? Everyone has a different opinion . . . but for everyone the magic is in the journey, and its various diversions, as much as the destination. Turn the page, fire up the engine, and come along on the ride to The Promised Land.


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