Bellingen, not far inland from and only half an hour from the beautiful and bustling Coffs Coast, is a laidback little town with a real community vibe with easy access to the mountains and a choice of family-friendly beaches nearby to enjoy. Here's a curated list of the best things to see and do when you visit brilliant Bellingen.
1. Visit the lolly shop
Sweets at Sweet Bellingen - Image courtesy Facebook
Sweet Bellingen is a cracker of lolly shop right in the thick of things on Hyde St. Locally sourced handmade chocolates are my favourite thing here but you might also like the unique imported range of sweets.
Bellingen Canoe Adventures will provide kayaks delivered to the water along the Bellinger River for you at a pre-arranged time and will pick you up and drop you off if necessary. I suggest going with the flow and taking a short sunrise paddle from Lavenders Bridge downstream to Fernmount, where Bellingen Canoe Adventures are based so they can drop you back at your accommodation or vehicle in Bellingen.
This is a beautiful and jam-packed store embodying the alternative lifestyle of Bellingen and promises to 'supply and promote that which gives back to the earth.' Some of my favourite second hand knick knacks have come from here.
4. Have lunch on Church Street
Church St, Bellingen - Image courtesy outdoorstype
Church St is the heart of town and is lined with restaurants and cafes and features a lookout over Lavenders Bridge and the surrounding park. No 5 Church Street is a standout for their heavenly hot chips.
5. Browse the Old Butter Factory
Image courtesy the Old Butter Factory Cafe Facebook
The Old Butter Factory has been many different things in its long life, including a sawmill and a shipyard, nowadays it is a craft complex centred on the Old Butter Factory Cafe. This is another place to discover an eclectic set of stores and manufacturing artisans, along with excellent food and coffee.
Bellingen Brewery and Co is tucked away behind the restaurants along Church St. Looking quaint and cosy, it huddles beneath its vines exuding charm and warmth. This venue brews their own amazing beers, serves superb wood oven pizza, and has live music on weekends.
7. Experience exquisite Gelato at Bellingen Gelato Bar
The wild and wicked flavour combinations that the folk at Bellingen Gelato Bar come up with have won them many awards and their popularity has seen them open a branch in central Sydney! Stewed plums with cinnamon and cloves sorbet anyone?
8. Shop at the Hammond and Wheatley Emporium building
Home to Emporium Bellingen and Dervish Gallery this heritage listed 1909 building features ornate pressed metal ceilings. Behind its imposing two-story facade, you'll find an airy and lush shopping experience with everything from fashion to footwear, cosmetics and homewares.
The bridge at the centre of Bellingen has been built and rebuilt many times before its current form was completed in 1999. Lavenders Bridge links north and south Bellingen and ends up underwater at least once a year. Flooding is such a regular part of life in Bellingen that Kombu Wholefoods on Church St hosts a permanent webcam, so the community can stay up to date with the river conditions.
10. Visit the Bellingen Community Markets
Image courtesy Bellingen Community Markets Facebook
The Bellingen Community Markets have been held on the third Saturday of every month since 1980. It is the largest community market in the region and attracts thousands of visitors. It's the perfect opportunity to experience the Bellingen community vibe.
There are so many more things that make Bellingen a special town. This list is designed to give you options that will give you the best Bellingen experiences in a short visit or something to select from if you're passing through. Be careful though, Bellingen may just draw you in and you'll find yourself browsing the windows of the local real estate agent!