With rolling green fields dotted with wide-eyed cows, seemingly endless plantations of sugarcane and bananas, and the dramatic backdrop of Wollumbin (Mount Warning), Murwillumbah is the quintessential NSW hinterland town. Set in the middle of an extinct volcanic caldera on the state’s far North Coast, the sleepy village is the gateway to The Tweed region’s greatest cultural and natural attractions, from the world’s largest expanse of tropical rainforest to world-class galleries.
You’ll be surrounded by nature in Murwillumbah, with Wollumbin National Park to the southwest and Nightcap National Park to the south. Aside from the towering undulations of Wollumbin mountain (the remnant vent of an ancient volcano), the park has a number of hiking trails revealing the state’s protected flora and fauna. Nightcap is also popular among adventure seekers drawn to the sheer rock pinnacles and cooling waterfalls.
Another place to cool down is Clarrie Hall Dam, located on a tributary of the Tweed River – which you can explore on a rainforest cruise – packed with Australian bass and surrounded by parkland and picnic areas. It’s within easy reach of the 18-hole course at Murwillumbah Golf Club, which enjoys one of the most scenic settings in the Tweed.
Art & culture
If the lush tropical grounds of the Tweed Regional Gallery don’t win you over, then the dynamic program of permanent and touring exhibitions spotlighting regional artists will. The on-site Margaret Olley Art Centre pays homage to one of the country’s most celebrated painters (Margaret grew up in this part of the state), recreating her famous home studio and showcasing a great number of her works.
Or visit the Tweed Regional’s annex at Gallery DownTown, part of Murwillumbah’s
To market, to market
The volcanic soil of the region nurtures bountiful produce, which you can sample at the weekly Murwillumbah Farmers Market (held every Wednesday). Stallkeepers here sell everything from organic eggs to freshly baked sourdough, olive oil to seasonal fruit and vegetables. Things get busy at the Makers and Finders Market, held in leafy Knox Park on the third Saturday of the month. Food abounds, alongside stalls laden with handmade jewellery, ceramics, art and fashion, with live entertainment on the side.
Every November, night rodeos, fireworks, agricultural displays and rides for the kids consume the town, at the Murwillumbah Show, which spotlights and celebrates the traditions that make country Australia so vibrant.
Getting there & where to stay
The fastest way to get to Murwillumbah is to fly into the Gold Coast Airport, just a 30min drive to the northeast, or the Ballina Byron Gateway Airport, an hour to the south. If you’re a fan of road trips, the drive from Sydney takes around nine hours, following the Legendary Pacific Coast route. From Brisbane, the drive is less than two hours. Accommodation ranges from caravan and camping sites to a riverside youth hostel, motels and luxurious retreats amid the rainforest.