It’s as far north as you can get in NSW, but that’s not the only superlative that applies to The Tweed. It’s also blessed with globally recognised galleries, World Heritage-listed rainforest, and some of the state’s most forward-thinking restaurants, bars and distilleries. Get your feet sandy at gorgeous coastal spots, or head to the hinterland to cool off in waterfalls and meander along whisper-quiet rivers.
The Tweed occupies the largest caldera in the Southern Hemisphere, the fertile volcanic soils sprouting all manner of tropical fruits, bountiful vegetables and even coffee plantations. For a true taste of this part of the state, journey into the hinterland to savour tree-fresh produce at Tropical Fruit World – the ice-cream and smoothies couldn’t get any tastier.
Tropical Fruit World, Northern Rivers
Potager restaurant is likewise set on a farm, telling a story of provenance from the ceramics (all regionally made) to the hyper-local produce, including greens plucked from the proximate gardens. Sip Zeta’s Coffee while wandering among bean plantations, or head to Ben’s Patisserie in Murwillumbah to purchase buttery croissants. Pick up more specialty coffee from Bastion Lane Espresso in Uki, housed inside the coolest little post office in Australia, replete with an art gallery.
Design-driven Halcyon House, with its Mediterranean-inspired colours (all blue, white and lemon yellow), has an on-site award-winning restaurant called Paper Daisy which is not to be missed.
Husk Distillers offers everything from long lunches to behind-the-scenes tours showcasing the process involved making the brand’s award-winning rums (the sugarcane is grown on site) and electric-blue gin, given its vibrant hue by the addition of butterfly pea flowers.
The Tweed is the gateway to Wollumbin National Park, a tangle of lush rainforest surrounding the peak of Wollumbin (Mount Warning), a sacred place for the Bundjalung people. Here, the Lyrebird track weaves through palm forest and along creeks, with viewing platforms en route to offer panoramic views of some of the largest and oldest tracts of sub-tropical rainforest left on Earth.
It’s not just Cabarita that draws surfers and swimmers in droves – the entire Tweed coast is a mecca for those who love to paddle, catch waves and cruise. Kingscliff is home to a number of beaches, some calm and others with big breaks. If you have a mask and flippers, you can enjoy independent snorkelling or diving adventures around the Cook Island Aquatic Reserve, a haven for green sea turtles, giant gropers and grey nurse sharks. Otherwise, sign up for an underwater tour (or kayaking and whale-watching expedition) with local operator, Watersports Guru.
Scenic coastal views from Fingal Head at sunrise - Credit: David Kirkland
From Tweed Heads – nicknamed the ‘Twin Town’ because it’s joined with Coolangatta just over the border in Queensland – you can explore the water on eco-cruises, crab-fishing expeditions and houseboats while drifting along the Tweed River, or out at sea on fishing charters and scenic cruises spotting migrating whales from May through November.
The riverside hinterland town of Murwillumbah is home to one of regional Australia’s greatest creative spaces: welcome to the Tweed Regional Art Gallery, not only showcasing exhibits from talents across the country and world, but also built with a replica of the jam-packed Paddington studio of Margaret Olley, one of Australia’s most celebrated artists.
While you’re here, be sure to peruse Murwillumbah’s fascinating art deco architecture and the M-Arts Precinct, an edgy creative space where artists work out of repurposed shipping containers. Then turn back the clock tens of thousands of years to relive the region’s indigenous heritage at the Minjungbal Aboriginal Cultural Centre. Check out the events calendar for festivals, markets and sports, like the Tyalgum Festival of Classical Music and the Australian Longboard Surfing Open.
If you’re a fan of long coastal road trips, you’ll love the 9hr drive north along the Legendary Pacific Coast route from Sydney to The Tweed – if you’re coming from Brisbane, the commute is just 1.5hr south. You can also fly into the Gold Coast Airport (a 10min bus or taxi ride away) or Ballina Byron Gateway Airport, 1hr to the south.
Destination NSW acknowledges and respects Aboriginal people as the state’s first people and nations and recognises Aboriginal people as the traditional owners and occupants of New South Wales land and water.