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Northern Rivers
New South Wales
ByronBay Bay.jpg
View south from Byron Bay, the most easterly point on mainland Australia
Northern Rivers is located in New South Wales
Northern Rivers
Northern Rivers
Location in New South Wales
Population 296,531 (30 June 2016)
 • Density 14.30264/km2 (37.0437/sq mi)
Area 20,732.6 km2 (8,004.9 sq mi)
State electorate(s)
  • Tweed
  • Ballina
  • Lismore
  • Clarence
Federal Division(s)
Localities around Northern Rivers:
Darling Downs South East Queensland Coral Sea
New England Northern Rivers Coral Sea
New England Mid North Coast Tasman Sea

Northern Rivers is the most north-easterly region of the Australian state of New South Wales, located between 590 and 820 kilometres (370 and 510 mi) north of the state capital, Sydney, and encompasses the catchments and fertile valleys of the Clarence, Richmond, and Tweed rivers. It extends from Tweed Heads in the north (adjacent to the Queensland border) to the southern extent of the Clarence river catchment which lies between Grafton and Coffs Harbour, and includes the main towns of Tweed Heads, Byron Bay, Ballina, Kyogle, Lismore, Casino and Grafton. At its most northern point, the region is 102 kilometres (63 mi) south south–east of the Queensland capital, Brisbane.

As with all regions of New South Wales, it has no official status, although state government department offices and local governments in the area work together for purposes such as tourism, education, water catchment management and waste management. This area has a mild, sub-tropical climate. Major industries are agriculture, fisheries, public services (particularly health) and tourism; the region is also popular for niche crops, hobby farmers, and retirees from life in the larger cities.


The Northern Rivers region is bounded by the Pacific Ocean to the east, the New England region to the west where the Great Dividing Range forms a mountainous boundary. To the north is the border between New South Wales and Queensland, where the Darling Downs are located to the north–west and South East Queensland directly to the north. The southern boundary is the Dorrigo ranges, which also mark the southern boundary for the Clarence River Basin.

The defining characteristic of the region are the fertile valleys of the Clarence, Richmond and Tweed rivers and their sources, hence the region's name; and the region's white sandy beaches.

Demography and area

The following local government areas are contained within the region:

Population by Local Government Area
Richmond Tweed rank Local Government Area Population 30 June 2014 10 year growth rate Population density (people/km2)
1 Tweed Shire Council 91,210 14.7 69.8
3 Lismore City Council 44,629 4.4 34.7
4 Ballina Shire Council 41,644 6.5 85.9
5 Byron Bay Shire Council 32,119 6.6 56.8
6 Richmond Valley Shire Council 22,983 8.6 7.5
7 Kyogle Shire Council 9,531 0.1 2.7
Richmond Tweed 242,116 8.9 23.6
2 Clarence Valley Council 51,003 4.9 4.9
Northern Rivers 293,119 8.2 14.2

The region is traversed by the Pacific Highway, Bruxner Highway, Clarence Way, Summerland Way and the North Coast Line which links Sydney to Brisbane, Queensland.

Major towns

Boats on the Ricmond River at Ballina
Boats on the Richmond River at Ballina


The Northern Rivers has its own orchestra based in Murwillumbah the Northern Rivers Symphony Orchestra as well as the Lismore Symphony Orchestra.

The region has a history of Italian settlement.

Sporting venues

Some sporting venues on the Northern Rivers includes:


The region contains the Southern Cross University, which is headquartered at Lismore and has campuses in Tweed Heads and Coffs Harbour. The North Coast Institute of TAFE has campuses at Lismore, Ballina, Casino, Grafton, Kingscliff, Maclean, Trenayr, Wollongbar and Yamba.

Rail transport

The Northern Rivers was served for over a century by the Murwillumbah railway line, although, amidst some ongoing controversy, services were suspended in 2004.

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