Northern Rivers Arts & Crafts
The unique character of the Northern Rivers has been shaped by the artisans and craftspeople who have made their home in the region. In every major town, you'll find excellent art galleries and even the smaller villages boast craft shops and artists' studios where visitors are welcome.
The rivertown of Ulmarra, just out of Grafton on the banks of the Clarence, has been classified by the National Trust and has a number of excellent art galleries housed in fully restored heritage buildings. Just a few kilometres up the Pacific Highway, Maclean - known as 'The Scottish Town in Australia' - is also well worth a visit, particularly if you have a Celtic background.
Further north, the Paperbark Gallery at Evans Head is tucked away in the town's industrial estate but it showcases an extensive range of quality local and Australian artworks. Justin and Vanessa Crisp who own the gallery are both well-established artists and anyone interested in marquetry and woodwork should have no trouble convincing Justin to show off his workshop next door.
Ballina Shire is the home of renowned Aboriginal artist, Albert 'Digby' Moran and you'll find his work on display in many galleries like the Paperbark in Evans Head and the Waywood Gallery in Byron Bay . Kolinda Gallery in Alstonville on the Bruxner Highway between Ballina and Lismore and the Thursday Plantation just north of Ballina, which has a brilliant outdoor sculpture display, should also be added to your list.
For antique lovers, Bangalow near Byron Bay is not to be missed. More than half a dozen excellent antique and craft outlets line the picturesque main street, jam-packed with quality pieces.
In terms of regional galleries, it's impossible to pick a winner between Tweed River at Murwillumbah, Grafton and Lismore, so you might just have to try them all.
Similarly, villages like Uki, Kyogle, Stokers Siding and Chillingham in the Tweed Valley all feature local crafts such as pottery, sculpture, woodwork, jewellery and paintings. The Griffith Furniture Factory and Art Gallery (also known as the Tree Tops Environment Centre) at Condong will fascinate both woodworkers and artlovers, while the counter-cultural Nimbin Museum near Lismore will take you back to the Age of Aquarius.