Evidence that good things come in small packages is Uki, the launching pad for outdoor adventures around The Tweed region’s multiple national parks and the commanding Wollumbin Mount Warning, the highest peak on the NSW North Coast. Needless to say, life here revolves around getting back to nature, whether you’re hiking, cycling, boating or sitting down to a paddock-to-plate meal.
The great outdoors
Wollumbin Mount Warning – the extinct remains of an ancient volcano – is part of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Wollumbin Mount Warning National Park, comprising the planet’s most extensive area of subtropical rainforest. Said to mean ‘cloud catcher’ in the local language of the Bundjalung Indigenous people, the peak of Wollumbin rises to a towering height of 1,157 metres above sea level, and is a much-loved landmark by photographers and artists.
Other protected wilderness areas within easy reach include Border Ranges National Park, where the Falcorostrum loop walking track weaves through Antarctic beech forest dating back 2,000 years. Nightcap National Park is replete with waterfalls tumbling into crystal-clear swimming holes and creeks along the Protesters Falls walking track (look out for Bangalow palms, native tamarind and strangler figs). In Mebbin National Park the Byrrill Creek walking track unveils diverse ecosystems home to all manner of birds and other wildlife.
Take to the water
Uki may be inland and a few kilometres from the sea, but that doesn’t stop those who visit from making a splash. At Clarrie Hall Dam, a tributary of the Tweed River, you can launch a boat and go fishing for bass, or glide your canoe out for a paddle around this immense waterway ringed with lotus flowers and lilypads. Northern Rivers Sportfishing offers a kayak fishing tour on the dam and river, which winds past Uki on its way to the sea.
Wine & dine
Set over 10 hectares on a former dairy farm at the foot of Wollumbin, Mavis’s Kitchen & Cabins is the kind of place where you could lose yourself for a couple of days – good thing there’s on-site accommodation. If you’re only here for a few hours, your rainforest-shrouded table in the restaurant will be topped with seasonal plates: think Hervey Bay scallops with finger lime, or wood-smoked beef brisket with organic greens sourced from surrounding fields.
Or, sit down to a hearty counter meal at classic country pub the Mt Warning Hotel Uki, which also offers rooms, should you wish to wander back to your accommodation, rather than drive. On the third Sunday of the month head to the Uki Buttery Bazaar, a village market with local arts, crafts and food at the heritage-listed Buttery Factory. Live entertainment runs until 2pm, when visitors spill out onto Uki’s streets to enjoy the lush streetscape replete with heritage buildings.
The fastest way to get to Uki is to fly into the Gold Coast or Ballina Byron Gateway airports, each less than an hour’s drive from your destination. If you’re coming from Brisbane, the drive south takes around 1.5 hours, while the drive north from Sydney along the Legendary Pacific Coast route is an epic (but scenic) nine hours.