Top 10 Best Places to Elope in Northern NSW
Have you been dreaming of a private, romantic elopement tucked away in nature somewhere in Northern NSW but have absolutely no idea where to go?
I’ve been a wedding photographer on the NSW Mid North coast for years now and have helped hundreds of couples plan intimate weddings and elopements up and down the coast.
I know what works and what doesn’t, and I’ll point out things to you that you may not have considered like weather, access and nearby facilities.
You’re in luck because I’ve got the list of the Top 10 Best Places to Elope in Northern NSW Australia with a bunch of info and photos of each spot so you can find the location that’s best for you!
To get your planning started – here’s the list of the
Top 10 Best Places to Elope in Northern NSW
Bellingen - Gleniffer – Gumbaynggirr Country
No surprises here - this was always going to be my number one recommendation! I packed up and moved my life and business here 6 years ago for the sole purpose of immersing myself into this incredibly rich landscape.
You may have heard of the Promised Land, the crystal clear Never Never River flowing through the forest, only a twenty minute drive from the centre of town.
There are so many beautiful hidden spots out here and, as a local, I spend a lot of time exploring and can help you find the perfect little pocket for your intimate ceremony.
I invite you to explore the area with respect, tread lightly and take everything with you when you leave. There are flat areas for you to set up a picnic or chairs for your guests, but keep in mind there are no toilet facilities nearby.
This location is perfect for couples who want somewhere secluded and a little dark and moody. Most spots are within easy walking access from the car. It is state forest so dogs are allowed!
After your ceremony you can mosey back into Bellingen and dine at one of the many fantastic restaurants, or I can recommend several incredible private rentals tucked away in the sleepy landscape of Gleniffer.
It gets pretty humid in summer and you're more likely to be deafened by cicadas or interrupted by tourists. Rain is also more likely over summer so I recommend Autumn to Spring.
Green Cathedral – Forster – Worimi Country
This is hands-down, one of the most beautiful ceremony locations you can find on the Mid-North Coast.
It’s a private property located at Tiona near Forster, so you will need to book directly with the owners.
The cathedral faces west so the light is best in the afternoon as the sun sets over the lake behind you. They hold several ceremonies here per day, and you will have a specific time slot of about 1.5 hours with a buffer either side to set up and pack down. This gives you enough time to hold your ceremony, hug your guests and have some epic portraits under the palm trees before heading off for dinner somewhere nearby.
There is a small carpark and a gently sloping track leading down to the cathedral through the magnificent palm forest. The walk only takes two minutes so is fairly accessible for most people. This location is beautiful any time of year, even in the rain!
South West Rocks – Dunghutti Country
South West Rocks, in particular Little Bay (as pictured here), is heaven on earth. Huge textured rocks protruding from a perfect little beach with rolling waves.
There are friendly kangaroos everywhere and walking tracks leading you up to the headland. You can drive right up to the beach and there are toilets and grassed picnic areas for your intimate reception.
The tide comes in pretty far so check tide levels for your date and try to tee up a date when low tide is around sunset. It’s a National Park so unfortunately no dogs allowed.
This location will suit you if you're after something more bright, open and coastal. On weekends in peak season there can be a few people around, but if you're there on a weekday outside of school holidays you might just have the whole place to yourself!
Watagans Pine Forest – Awabakal and Darkinjung Country
Tucked inland from Newcastle and the Central Coast is this ethereal pine forest within the Watagans. Pine forests have such a distinctive feel to them because, unlike other types of forest, there isn’t an understory or groundcover, so the only thing standing beneath these towering beauties is you and your honey.
The Pines Picnic Area is easily accessible and it’s only a few steps on flat ground from the car to the forest so a suitable site if you or your guests have accessibility requirements. There’s a campground around the corner if you’d like to stay the night and plenty of beautiful walking trails to spend a few days exploring the area!
It's more likely to rain in summer/early autumn here, so I'd recommend aiming for winter or spring.
This is state forest so dogs are allowed!
Port Macquarie – Biripi Country
Port Macquarie is home to multiple beautiful beaches perfect for an elopement! Some of my favourites are Oxley Beach, Flagstaff Cove and Nobby Head.
These pristine beaches are an absolute dream at sunrise or sunset. If it’s a sunny day you’re sure to catch some epic golden hour rays but even when it’s overcast, the light is dreamy and soft.
These locations are easy access from the street but keep in mind they are public beaches and can get busy, particularly in school holidays/summer afternoons.
These spots would suit couples who want something a bit brighter and more open.
There is plenty of accommodation in town within walking distance to beautiful cafes and restaurants.
Newcastle – Dudley Beach – Awabakal Country
Newcastle has some of the most spectacular beaches in NSW and one of my absolute favourite spots for a ceremony is the south end of Dudley Beach.
Accessed via the Bombala walking track which winds through Glenrock National Park and opens up onto the beach. It only takes about 15 minutes to walk down but there are steps. I wouldn’t recommend this spot if you or your guests have accessibility requirements as the only other way there is to park at the north end of Dudley Beach and walk along the sand.
I recommend having your ceremony here about 2 hours before sunset so you have plenty of time afterwards for portraits along the rocks and sand, as well as a little picnic or informal reception before it gets dark.
Dorrigo – Gumbaynggirr Country
The green rolling hills and epic waterfalls of Dorrigo will take your breath away. The landscape is open farmland alongside dense ancient rainforest. There are so many options that it’s a bit much to throw at you here, but let’s chat if this feels like you.
You could rent a private property to stay onsite overlooking the rolling hills to hold your ceremony in the yard and spend a few blissful nights tucked away in solitude.
Or if you're up for more of an adventure, we could spend a day hiking to one of the many waterfalls or swimming holes in the area to say your vows.
Dangar Falls is a very easy 15 minute walk to the bottom. Most other waterfalls in the area will take a few hours of your time getting there and back but I’m up for it if you are!
The main things to consider here is access if you're hoping for an adventure elopement to a waterfall or swimming hole in the Dorrigo rainforest. It will require a level of fitness and you'll also need to be mindful of the time of year and weather. Dorrigo is often 10 degrees cooler than Bellingen and it rains frequently.
If you're considering renting a private property you will need to ask the owner's permission to have your ceremony there, especially if you're bringing in guests and vendors. I can help you coordinate this.
Crescent Head – Dunghutti Country
Crescent is the Mid-North Coast’s best kept secret. This sleepy coastal town is home to spectacular beaches and headlands, as well as some stellar local restaurants for a bite after.
This headland at Racecourse Beach gets one of the best sunsets I’ve seen. It wraps around so you can look out at the ocean and watch the sun setting to the west. It’s also easy access down to the beach.
It’s easy to go barefoot here if you want and accessible in any car. It’s a National Park so no doggos allowed.
A quick drive to Casa Mio, La Costa Cantina and Goolawah Bush Retreat if you are having a few guests and want somewhere for everyone to crash/party after your ceremony!
Sawtell Beach and Headland – Coffs Harbour – Gumbaynggirr Country
One of the most underrated spots on the Mid North Coast would have to be Sawtell Beach and Headland near Coffs Harbour. To be fair, most of the beaches in Coffs Harbour are spectacular and well worth considering for your elopement.
Another favourite would be Diggers Beach which is flanked by lush headlands that makes you feel like you’re in Hawaii.
The coastline is vast and varied, with jagged volanic rock forming large dramatic cliffs, to soft white beaches and everything in between.
If you're dreaming of a beach elopement, I recommend considering a sunrise ceremony. Not only is the light perfect because the sun rises over the ocean, but the wind is often a lot calmer in the morning and there are less people around to accidentally stumble upon your ceremony.
If you're not an early riser, that's ok - you can definitely still have a beautiful afternoon ceremony, and I'll structure your run sheet around capturing those perfect golden portraits at sunset. I know quite a few fantastic spots all along the Coffs Coast that would be perfect for elopements, so let's find the right one for you!
Angourie – Yamba – Yaegl Country
By now we’re all very familiar with the belle of the North Coast, Byron Bay, but have you met her cool younger cousin, Angourie?
Only 1.5 hours south of Byron and tucked in the armpit of Yamba, you’ll find the sweet little village of Angourie. This whole area is phenomenal for elopements if a quiet headland or beach is what you’re looking for. There are gorgeous private rentals where you can literally walk to the beach. Otherwise check out Angourie Resort or one of the hotels in Yamba!
This couple chose to get married at sunrise (dream!) on Green Point before we wandered down to a nearby beach for a quick dip and some photos with their fam.
So there you have it, my Top 10 Best Places to Elope in Northern NSW
Feeling overwhelmed and like you may need help choosing one?
I got you.
Your choices are not limited to the options here. These are just suggestions and places I know work well for ceremonies and elopements.
There are so many other secret little pockets all along the NSW North Coast, so get in touch and let's find your place together!
Wondering what the steps are to actually planning an elopement in Australia?
Right this way!