Northern Rivers Tropical New South Wales
A Guide to The Tweed-Coolangatta Region of Northern NSW including Accommodation
The Northern Rivers region of Australia is located on the far North coast of NSW and runs from Grafton, Lismore and Ballina in the South, to the Tweed Shire in the North. Whilst other shires in the Northern Rivers region claim to be the gateway to the rainforests and World Heritage Listed National Parks of NSW, in the Tweed Shire you have finally arrived.
Nestled right up against the NSW/Queensland Border at Tweed Heads in the North and stretching down the coast and hinterland to just before Byron Bay in the South, the Tweed Shire is not only famous for its unsurpassed beauty, but for its geographical and cultural diversity and terrific climate – with a summer mean temperature range of 18 to 30 Celsius (64 to 86F), and winter being a marvellous experience with mean temperatures ranging from 7 to 22 C (45 to 72F), which means log fires at night and t-shirts and shorts during the day.
A visit to the Tweed brings you to the largest sub-tropical rainforest remnant in the world, the most bio-diverse region in Australia and the biggest extinct shield volcano in the world.
With pristine beaches (and the added advantage of no stinging jellyfish in summer like the Queensland beaches), rivers and creeks meandering through lush green valleys and towering rainforests, the Tweed Shire is not only spectacularly beautiful, but home to 3 of Australia’s World Heritage listed National Parks, with another 2 just over the border in Queensland.
Tweed Heads shares a main high street with Coolangatta, the southernmost tip of the famous Queensland Gold Coast. Due to their close proximity, Tweed Heads and Coolangatta are often referred to as the Twin Towns and are considered a major regional centre, with Gold Coast a hub for domestic carriers.
Located at the mouth of the Tweed River, Tweed-Coolangatta is probably most famous for it’s surf beaches. All manner of ocean and estuary activities are easily accessible from here. You can rent a small boat to go fishing in the Tweed estuary and Cobaki Lakes, take an offshore deep sea fishing charter, learn to scuba dive or relax with a fully catered river cruise.
The Tweed coast is a 35 km-long chain of pristine beaches with grassy headlands and quiet villages stretching from the mouth of the Tweed River at Fingal, to Wooyung in the south, with the main hub of the area being Murwillumbah - a 30 minute drive south from Tweed Heads.
At Fingal you can see the original Point Danger Lighthouse, Giant's Causeway and a long stretch of beach that’s rarely crowded - even in the middle of summer. Next stop is the quiet village of Chinderah, well known for water sports. Further south we arrive at Kingscliff, famous for it’s myriad of beachfront cafés and restaurants; with South Kingscliff boasting a patrolled beach in summer, good boat ramps, offshore reefs, and an estuary providing sheltered swimming and fishing.
Cabarita Beach has one of the best surf beaches in the area, sheltered by Norries Headland. Cudgen has it’s lake, a sanctuary for flora and fauna as well as all forms of aquatic sports. Hastings Point has picnic and barbecue areas, a beach and Cudgera Creek. Pottsville is a long established holiday spot boasting the Bicentennial Leisure Gardens, several walking tracks, picnic areas and a multitude of wildlife. The southernmost beach is Wooyung.
Slightly inland of the coastal strip, as you travel down the Pacific Highway from the Twin Towns, you can’t help but notice Mount Warning towering over the cane fields that line the highway. Mount Warning, where the dawn sun first touches mainland Australia, is the last remnant of the extinct volcano’s central core.
named Wollumbin, meaning "Cloud Catcher" by the Bundjalung people who were the inhabitants of the area before European settlement, it stands like a huge reminder that you’re nearing the hub of the Tweed Shire ~ Murwillumbah.
Just off the Highway, nestled in a small park by the Tweed River is the Murwillumbah Rainforest and Information Centre. It’s here you learn that Murwillumbah means "place of many possums", that the volcano is the largest of its kind (above water) in the world, find a fascinating display of how the erupting volcano formed the area’s unique topography, as well as stock up on brochures and pamphlets on things to do and see during your stay.
A short drive across the bridge and you’re in the centre of Murwillumbah, a picturesque town that spreads along the western bank of the Tweed River and up into the hills of the McPherson Ranges. Surrounded, as it is, by the rim of the volcano and bordering the Tweed River, almost every street has magnificent mountain, river and valley views.
Murwillumbah is a place where the lifestyle is relaxed and informal, the people friendly and welcoming and a perfect place to stop for lunch. You can choose from one of the many al fresco cafés and restaurants in town, or maybe you’d prefer to dine at one of the several pubs and clubs. Whichever you choose, your meal is bound to include fresh, local produce as well as a friendly chat on the best places to visit during your stay.
Time to find somewhere to base yourself whilst enjoying the many features of the area. There are several motels in Murwillumbah itself, but why not immerse yourself in the area by choosing one of the bed and breakfasts just outside of town?
Personalised one-on-one art classes by renowned local
artist Barbara Suttie by advance arrangement at your accommodation
Award winning local landscape artist, Barbara Suttie gives personalised one-on-one art classes in oils and acrylic by advance arrangement. Spend the day learning the tips and tricks of the trade, tailored to suit your needs and level of experience.
Horse riding more your thing? Then take a scenic drive to Numinbah Trail Rides to meet your horse for a 3 hour tour of a private 2,500 acre farm. Stop half way for Billy tea and damper before remounting for the return trip.
As well as pristine rainforests, impressive mountains and beautiful countryside, the Tweed area is a haven for local craftspeople and you’ll enjoy discovering the many galleries and craft shops which display their wares. Later on, you can enjoy a round of golf, laze on pristine beaches, dine at a myriad of international restaurants, enjoy one-day river and rainforest cruises, visit the art gallery in Murwillumbah which hosts the richest portrait prize in Australia (the Doug Moran prize), browse the various regular local markets or take a trip to the Gold Coast shopping malls to relieve yourself of some of that hard-earned cash!
Whatever you choose to do, you’re bound to agree that the Tweed is the undiscovered jewel in the crown of the beautiful Northern Rivers area, and not to be missed on your trip ‘Downunder".
Although the Tweed Valley is in NSW and Sydney is that state's capital city, the Tweed is more than ten hours drive North, so international travellers disembarking at Sydney would be better advised to take a connecting flight Gold Coast airport which is literally 5 minutes over the border to Tweed Heads; or fly directly to Brisbane International airport which is a little over an hours drive from the NSW border.
Hire cars are readily available from both airports. Alternatively, coach and train connections go from both Brisbane and Sydney straight through to Murwillumbah, where hire cars and taxis are readily available. MAPS.
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