Well known for its affiliation with the arts, Bellingen is a colourful and creative little town, propped up by a strong sense of community, artistic appreciation and eco-awareness. Jazz festivals, markets and creative workshops draw a blossoming crowd that quickens the pace. It’s an unexpected jewel on the journey north from Sydney with plenty gems to uncover, from vintage finds to a hidden-away artisan sourdough bakery.[fold]


CAFES

The Vintage Nest
A beautifully decorated cafe and store in one, The Vintage Nest is dedicated to all things vintage. Clothes and shoes, homewares, house goods, old records, buttons and other trinkets are sourced from locally and abroad, but thankfully don’t necessarily carry the eyebrow-raising price tag typical of inner city vintage finds. The adjoining café, lined with comfy chesterfields, old bikes, dangling camera displays, books and spinning globes, houses an array of sweets. Homemade Monte Carlo biscuits are piled up high and the espresso machine runs hot.
62 Hyde Street, Bellingen
(02) 6655 0015

Hearthfire Bakery
An unlikely suspect in a town so small, this bakery is well worth seeking out. Off the main street, down a side alley and in a pokey little room, Hearth Fire makes up for its size (or lack thereof) with the sheer flavour and quality of its offering. The sweet versus savoury battle was lost on us here, as it’s almost a crime not to do both. Think French toast with caramelised banana, locally smoked bacon and maple syrup, or eggplant and tomato ragout on baked polenta. The basics are not forgotten either, with various baguettes on display, or you can take home a loaf of house-baked rye volkornbrot, spelt multigrain or macadamia fruit bread.
73 Hyde Street, Bellingen
(02) 6655 0088

Old Butter Factory
A former dairy factory and packed with country charm, the Old Butter Factory showcases some of Bellingen’s finest art and craft creations from local artists, including leather, pottery, woodwork and glass. Sit at the cafe with a freshly baked scone and take in the landscape. It’s the perfect place for a relaxing stop mid-journey.
1 Doepel Street, Bellingen
(02) 6655 2150
bellingen.com/butterfactory


SHOP

Emporium Bellingen
You’ll find Emporium Bellingen in the historic Hammond & Wheatley building, which sits tall and proud in the centre of town. Built in 1909, its cast iron columns and lacy wrought iron awnings are striking from the outside. Head upstairs to a marketplace of pretty things – bright textiles, hand-painted doorknobs, imported quilts and ornaments from afar.
73-75 Hyde Street, Bellingen
(02) 6655 2204
emporiumbellingen.com.au


DO

Bellingen Community Markets
On the third Saturday of each month, the Bellingen Community Markets draw a host of visitors and stall owners into the town. The alternative roots of the community are more evident here and the ‘weekender’ vibe less so. Originally set up to sell local produce and handmade art and craft, they’ve now expanded to include new and vintage clothes, alternative therapies and books, to name a few.
2/54 Wheatley Street, Bellingen
(02) 6655 2151
bellingenmarkets.com.au