Bethany Bed & Breakfast, Binna Burra review: All sunlight and bubbles

Read our writer's views on this property below

Bruce Elder wakes in morning mist, in a room named Star Child.

At 6.30am I wake with a gasp of delight: "Look at that! Look at that!" Not, perhaps, the most welcoming of sounds to a sleeping companion, but during the night a mist has settled into valleys and now the rainforest below Bethany Bed and Breakfast is awash with tropical sunlight. The land is looking so green and fresh it would make the Irish homesick. An ocean of mist smudges the valleys and softens the trees on nearby hills.

It's a dreamscape and it persuades us that Bethany B&B is something special, albeit strange.

Built on a hillside a few kilometres from the charming town of Bangalow, Bethany is a purpose-built retreat dating to the period (late 1980s-early 1990s) when, instead of building a holiday house, people built huge structures with a view to creating a bed-and-breakfast business.

Bethany has three guest rooms with separate entrances and balconies looking north across the hills towards Mullumbimby and Byron Bay.

The rooms are what's strange. We stay in "Star Child" (a term I can confidently assert has never been ascribed to me). A small entrance deputises as a mini-kitchen, with a fridge, toaster, coffee plunger, electric jug and microwave oven, leading to a main room, which is attractive and light, with a queen-size bed.

There is a spa bath in one corner, not far from the bed. To me, the idea of immersion in bubbles isn't a compatible activity with other occupants of the room asleep, lounging or watching television. The plastic shower curtain around the bath hardly ensures privacy for the bather or anyone else in the room.

The privacy comes when I walk out to the room's large balcony and close the door behind me, while my dear companion luxuriates in a Tokyomilk Bon Bon Bubbling Bath (with extract of Japanese green tea).

For diversions, the room has a small plasma-screen television; a selection of books (Debra Adelaide, Ian McEwan, Haruki Murakami and Kate Morton - now that's different from the usual Stephen King or James Patterson fare); four CDs (Paul Kelly, Enya, Tracy Chapman and a jazz compilation); and a CD player. A single bed in the room can double as a couch and there's a table with two chairs.


Bangalow, Byron Bay, Mullumbimby and Brunswick Heads are each within a short drive and all have chic cafes and good restaurants. On one morning of our stay we forgo Bethany's continental breakfast and head a few kilometres down the hill to Harvest at Newrybar, widely considered to serve the best breakfasts on the north coast. We're not disappointed.

Freshly squeezed orange juice on Harvest's shady verandah is followed by culinary agonising: the Hayters Hill pork and parsley sausages with poached eggs, croquette potatoes and field mushrooms filled with caponata? Or a classic florentine of poached eggs, spinach and hollandaise sauce on sourdough with leg ham.

We order both, though we resist the temptation to throw back a chilled vodka with tomato, chilli, galangal and kaffir lime to kick the palate into action.

Harvest is open for dinner on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights but we decide to explore Bangalow, home of The Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide's one-hatted Satiate, as well as the more modest trio of eateries in the main street: Ate, Bang Burger Bar and Utopia cafe.

On the recommendation of the 2012 guide, we drive to Mullumbimby, where Milk and Honey serves what is considered to be some of the best pizzas in the country.

Later, back at Bethany, the bed and breakfast's appeal is summed up in the almost universal assessments recorded in its guest book: a place to relax and enjoy the country view.


Bethany Bed & Breakfast

Address 2 Flowers Road, Binna Burra.

The verdict A comfortable, reasonably priced stay with superb hill views.

Price $185 a room a night; $175 a room a night for bookings of two nights or more. Tariff includes continental breakfast served in your room.

Bookings Phone 66872926 or 0404679367, see

Getting there Bangalow is 850 kilometres north of Sydney. From Bangalow, follow the signs to Lismore, turn left on to Friday Hut Road and right on to Flowers Road. About one kilometre from the turn-off, after going about 400 metres on gravel road, the house lies below the road on the right and is distinguished by a letterbox featuring a big red bird.

Perfect for A rural retreat but close to the attractions of the north coast.

Wheelchair access Yes.

While you're there Visit the growers' markets in the area; breakfast at Harvest at Newrybar; drive around the coastal hinterland; explore regional restaurants listed in the 2012 Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide.

Weekends Away are reviewed anonymously and paid for by Traveller.