As far as travel destinations go, Byron Bay has been big for a couple of decades, while further north the Gold Coast still has the razzle dazzle that tourists flock to every year. Nestled quietly between these two iconic locations, however, is a destination filled with hidden delights…
This year why not skip the crowds and head for a long weekend to the Tweed Coast. Same weather, same natural beauty, but a lot more space and time to yourself. One minute you’re at the beach, the next you can be in the mountains, a rainforest, or cruising down a road lined with sugar cane.
About the Tweed Shire
As the largest Council on the north coast of New South Wales, Tweed Shire services around 94,000 residents over an area of 1,303 square kilometres, and welcomes more than 1.2 million visitors each year, with the Gold Coast Airport offering easy accessibility.
It’s a little-known but fascinating fact that the spot where the sun first hits the Australian continent is Wollumbin/Mount Warning – the stunning centrepiece of the Tweed.
It’s not only locals who think the region is picture perfect. In late 2017, Hollywood came to Hastings Point headland – a popular whale watching spot – for the filming of the recently released ‘Aquaman’ where director James Wan had an elaborate Lighthouse set built for filming, overlooking the vast and magical ocean.
Get amongst it
Hiring a car is highly recommended, as there are so many incredible places to explore within an easy drive.
If you want to get active, the most logical place to start is along the 37km of stunning beaches that are home to some of the best surf spots on the east cost, including Cabarita Beach, Fingal Head, Cudgen Headland, and Pottsville.
You can also do a spot of diving or swimming. Many of the beaches are patrolled and have Surf Life Saving Clubs with views to die for, where you can sit with a drink and a meal looking out over the waves.
Make sure you pack walking shoes because there’s plenty of breathtaking scenery on walks for people of all fitness levels. Our favourite was a picturesque beachside bush walk that starts in the village of Cabarita and leads to Norries Headland, with uninterrupted ocean views along the way. Once you’re at the summit you’ll probably want to hang out for a bit and take in the sight of skilled surfers who rate the headland point breaks as some of the best in the country.
This is also the perfect place for some whale watching. The magnificent Humpback whales make their presence known from May through to September on their migration path as the females travel past to reach the warmer waters of The Great Barrier Reef to give birth. They then pass Cabarita again on their journey home to Antarctica between August and September. If you want to get up close, there are many whale watching tour operators that can help you experience this unique thrill.
For those who like a walk that takes in 18 or 19 holes, there are also half a dozen golf courses within a short driving distance. Horse racing fans are also catered to, with Condong race track offering 11 race meets a year.
If a slower-paced holiday taking in some culture is your thing, there are myriad of activities on offer. Visit sacred Aboriginal sites at the Tweed Heads Historic Site and Minjungbal Aboriginal Cultural Centre. Browse the Tyalgum Village Market or the Murwillumbah Makers and Finders Market (both held on Saturdays). Take a 3-hour boat cruise with lunch included where you can fish for crabs, or a more relaxing Eco Cruise meandering up the Tweed River and looking at the rainforests. The Tweed Regional Gallery is also the perfect place to see first-rate exhibitions and a world-class portrait collection.
The region is famous for its abundant fresh seafood including crabs, oysters and yabbies, and with pubs, clubs and restaurants dotted along the coast you’ll never be short of a great feed.
Tea aficionados will be thrilled to learn that Madura Tea is grown in the region, with a retail shop in between Cabarita and Nunderi that offers a fascinating 1-hour walking tour to the general public for just $8, and also sells a range of their teas.
Keep cash handy if you take a drive inland because you’ll come across plenty of temptations at roadside stalls selling fruit and vegetables straight from the farm gate.
Places to stay
With over 1,000 listings for Tweed Shire on Airbnb, you won’t be stuck for accommodation no matter what your budget! The Tweed Shire also manages the Tweed Shire Holiday Parks, which have seven idyllic locations along the coast with beach or riverside views.
If it’s very high-end you’re after, we recommend Halcyon House in Cabarita Beach, a Conde Nast ‘Best Hotels In The World’ 2019 winner, where you can indulge in fine food, beverages and spa treatments in this beautiful oceanside retreat that harks back to yesteryear.
Perhaps you’re a little more adventurous, in which case you could hire and captain a houseboat from Berger Houseboat Holidays and cruise the tranquil rivers at your own pace, spotting dolphins frolicking along the way and enjoying kayaking, fishing and barbecues.
If you make the effort to get out and explore the stunning Tweed Shire, you’ll more than likely end up looking at the real estate guide for that dream holiday home to keep coming back to. You’ve been warned!
For more information visit https://www.tweed.nsw.gov.au