Gabby Watson goes for an explore of Kyogle and the surrounding villages and discovers some of the hidden treasures of the Rainbow Region – including this classic model VW Beetle from the Macdade & Family Store…
A scenic hour and a half’s drive west of Byron Bay is the vibrant country township of Kyogle. Situated on the banks of the Richmond River, Kyogle is an area with a rich traditional heritage based on cattle grazing, dairy farming and forestry timber. Kyogle is also the picturesque gateway to numerous national parks and nature reserves including Toonumbar National Park and the World Heritage listed Border Ranges National Park. An important hub for the many villages in the areas, Kyogle offers visitors a glimpse into the lifestyle, culture and landscape of this beautiful country region.
Much of architecture in the town owes its unique style to the art deco movement of the 1920’s to 1940’s. Prior to 1920, the majority of Kyogle’s buildings were made from timber due to its proximity to the ‘Big Scrub’ rainforests. Some of these early buildings such as the Kyogle Post Office still stand, however in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s a series of large fires burnt whole rows of shops and destroyed much of the original infrastructure of the town. New buildings were constructed from brick and as Art Deco was all the rage, local builders and architects enthusiastically embraced its progressive style. A walking tour along either side of the wide main street provides a wonderful opportunity to take in these classic Art Deco details.
A thriving new cafe in town, Gateway Fine Foods, offers a tasty variety of home made meals and snacks alongside Zentveld’s coffee and a delicious range of gluten free, vegetarian & organic foods. Customers can browse the selection of coffee and treats, organic fair-trade teas and gourmet deli and grocery lines proudly sourced from around the Northern Rivers.
Situated in the middle of town is the eclectic and diverse Macdade & Family Store. Typical of the comprehensive array found in a traditional country store, this well stocked shop offers a vast range of goods, with everything from WoodWick candles, Tibetan jewellery and gift lines through to floorcoverings, blinds and furniture. If you can’t find it on the floor, the owner Linda can order it in.
A short drive north of Kyogle, the pretty village of Wiangaree is a great place to stop for lunch or to pick up some supplies from the old style Wiangaree General Store. The store has a small range of of cooked meals and grocery lines along with beer, wine, newspapers and magazines. You can also gather information on tourist attractions while checking out the displayed relics of local history. The store is open seven days a week from 6.30am. Wiangaree is also the turn off for the western entrance of the Border Ranges National Park.
Old Grevillia, so named for its many beautiful Silky Oak trees is a peaceful village 30kms north of Kyogle. Here you will find Calamia Cottage Collectables, a unique and surprising shop offering antiques and memorabilia gathered from years of treasure hunting by the owner Louise Aggett. Originally from Coffs Harbour where she ran an antique store for 30yrs, Louise and her husband Keith retired to the area in 2010 after falling in love with the peace and tranquility of the lush green hills situated along the beautiful meandering river. Calamia Cottage Collectables makes a delightful place to stop and browse for old china, brass and porcelain; bric-a-brac, glass and beautiful hand made quilts and crocheted doilies crafted by the local women. Louise is very knowledgeable on the origin and age of the antiques and points to the oldest piece in her collection as a hand painted ewer circa 1880 from Bavaria. A rare 1975 GT Ducati motorbike in stunning, original condition takes pride of place on the shop floor. Louise is always happy to chat and offers visitors a welcoming cup of tea while they explore. Calamia Cottage Collectables is open from 10am to 3pm, Tuesday to Saturday.
An Initiative of the Kyogle Lions Club, The Lions Road is a scenic link road between Beaudesert and Grafton, passing through the magnificent Border Ranges National Park and overlooking the unique and historically significant Border Loop railway line. This loop was constructed for trains to climb from the low side in NSW to the high side over the McPherson Range in QLD. This scenic tourist road is undoubtedly one of the most memorable experiences of a journey through the Northern Rivers region. The Border Loop Railway Lookout, which has amenities and picnic facilities, is an ideal area for a picnic and to take in the scenery and wildlife unique to the region.
With its unique architecture, friendly hospitality and spectacular natural beauty and wildlife, Kyogle offers the visitor a uniquely Australian country experience.
Photos and words by Gabby Watson