The heart of the picturesque Bellinger Valley is historic Bellingen which is also known as the Jazz Capital as it has been host to the Bellingen Jazz and Blues Festival for over 15 years.
Other towns include Urunga, Mylestom, Repton, Raleigh, Thora and Gleniffer.
Bellingen’s tree-lined streets, weatherboard cottages and historic buildings bear witness to its beginnings in the mid 1800’s as a cedar-getting and shipbuilding “Boat Harbour”.
The Bellinger Valley is embraced by magnificent mountains and traversed by the wonderful Bellinger River that joins with the Kalang at Urunga to form part of a stunning array of coastal beaches, wetlands and river estuaries.
The valley is dominated by McGrath’s Hump which rises above the Dorrigo Plateau and its World Heritage listed National Parks. Rainforest and waterfalls feature along Waterfall Way from Dorrigo through Thora to Bellingen.
The Bellinger Valley is a place where people and nature live in harmony. Artists and crafts people draw inspiration and materials from this unique natural heritage.
The monthly Bellingen Community Market, the Global Carnival and the annual Bellingen Jazz Festival are times celebration.
Urunga is the largest town in the Bellinger Valley and is situated where the Bellinger and Kalang Rivers meet the sea. The name was derived from an aboriginal word meaning long white sands.
The town has much to offer the visitor with its pristine stretches of white sandy beaches, its rivers and natural lagoon – sailing, fishing, swimming, skiing and boating.
Also known as North Beach, Mylestom is a cosy beach resort for a leisurely holiday. It’s situated on the thin strip of land that separates the Bellinger River from the Pacific Ocean. There’s a very active Surf Life Saving Club to patrol the clean, long, white beach.
As well as surfing the pristine beaches, Mylestom also offers superb sailing, boating and other water activities on the quiet waters of the Bellinger and Kalang rivers. Safe shark netted swimming is available for family enjoyment by the riverside park. Adjacent is the beautiful Bongil Bongil coastal national park and flora reserve with kilometres of peaceful walking and cycling tracks.
The essential needs of residents and visitors are catered for by two general stores, one of which offers the Post Office service, a modern caravan park, backpackers lodge and restaurant. There’s also a Bowling & Recreation Club.
Halfway between Bellingen and Coffs Harbour, and three kilometres from Mylestom, Repton is a secluded rural/residential area surrounded by the Pine Creek State Forest which is an unique koala management plan. Koalas often travel into the backyards of homes in Repton, along with swamp wallabies, bandicoots and a vast array of birdlife.
Repton has its own secluded beach, Tucker’s Rock Beach, which is at the southern tip of the Bongil Bongil National Park. From here you can take a three kilometre walk north through the Bundageree Rainforest Walk to Bundagen Headland. Repton has a General Store, a Post Office and a great butcher’s shop that also has a large range of vegetables and fruit for sale. The Repton Garden’s Caravan Park is also situated on the banks of the Bellinger River where camping, fishing, canoeing and boating facilities are available.
The Dorrigo Plateau is a breathtaking scenic wonderland with many historic buildings, cool mountain air set in lush green surroundings.
The picturesque, serenity of the Dorrigo Plateau is within easy reach to Coffs Coast is definitely not to be missed. Here you can breathe the clear mountain air and marvel at the lush, largely untouched rainforests.
The milk and potato countryside is home to some very talented individuals and much of their work can be found in the local art and craft shops in the heart of town.
It’s a great starting point for exploring the National Parks. There’s brown and rainbow trout waiting for you to catch and at Ebor in winter you can quite often play in the snow. Or you can go whitewater rafting at Nymboida.
Along the drive from Bellingen via Waterfall Way you will find lots of places to pull over safely and admire the waterfalls, plant life and the views. Gigantic trees, clinging vines, Elkhorns, Staghorns, Birds’ Nest Ferns and splendid Orchids cling to massive trunks. At the Dorrigo National Park you can experience the sights, sounds and smells of World Heritage rainforests. Maiden Hair Ferns, Sword Ferns and Tree Ferns are abundant. Scores of birds of brilliant plumage in the tree tops, while on the ground there are Turkeys, Lyre Birds and Pheasants.
Extensive logging, clearing for agriculture, burning off and urbanisation have eliminated or depleted much of the original rainforest. But some fine stands and majestic trees still remain, notably within Dorrigo National Park and New England National Park
Pioneering families mainly came from England and Scotland and paid ten shillings a year for forty acres. Bullock teams took a couple of weeks to transport wool and other produce to Armidale however the trip to the coast and return took six months (today it’s 30 minutes by car).
The open grass country of the plateau was used first, and in the late 1850’s the cedar getters moved in.
After the first World War more farms were made available for soldier settlers. They produced cream and butter which was sent via Bellingen to the city. In 1906 a small butter factory opened in Dorrigo and a bacon factory in 1922. Potato growing became very viable in the early 1930’s and the timber thrived.
Today dairying is still strong with milk being transported to Norco at Raleigh for processing. Beef cattle and potatoes are the main farming industries. In fact Dorrigo is famous for its potatoes.