A local's guide to the Tweed Valley's hotspots
Between the big hitters of Byron Bay and the Gold Coast lies the lesser known Tweed Valley which is quietly serving up amazing food and art against a stunning natural backdrop – without any of the hype or the crowds.
- August 2019
Travel from the Gold Coast opens in new window or Byron Bay opens in new window to enjoy the natural beauty, gourmet food and eclectic art that are the calling cards of this under-the-radar region in far north NSW. A local shares the inside track on the destination's highlights.
Taste the terroir
This is paddock-to-plate territory, where produce is organically grown, ethically made, consciously cured or locally sourced. Taste your way around the Tweed on a self-drive tour, taking in the Murwillumbah Farmers Market opens in new window held on Wednesdays, Tweed Valley Whey Farmhouse Cheeses opens in new window in Burringbar, Cubby Bakehouse opens in new window in Chinderah and Cudgen’s Farm & Co opens in new window, where you can pick sunflowers and macadamias. Short on time? Blue Ginger Picnics opens in new window – 2018 Qantas Australian Tourism Award winner – can lay out a spread of local fare in a scenic location.
Follow the art trail
The Northern Rivers boasts more artists per capita than any other region in Australia, and Murwillumbah, in the Tweed Valley, is the epicentre of this eclectic community. Each year, the Murwillumbah Arts Trail opens in new window showcases some 33 sites around the town – including the Tweed Regional Gallery opens in new window & Margaret Olley Art Centre and burgeoning M-Arts Precinct opens in new window, which brings creatives (such as 2018 Archibald Prize finalist Ben Smith), exhibitions, workshops, art supplies, a market opens in new window, regional food and, soon, live music under one roof.
Hit a natural high
Home of boutique hotel Halcyon House opens in new window, Cabarita Beach is one of the North Coast’s best point breaks if you want to ride its reliable and exhilarating waves. The viewing platform on Norries Head, overlooking the 200-metre stretch of sun-kissed sand, is a great vantage to watch the annual humpback migration. Those who prefer their surf with less swell can paddle Caba’s tranquil canals, a few blocks back from the beach, guided by wellness-focused Journey Outdoors in Nature opens in new window.
World Heritage-listed Mount Warning (Wollumbin National Park) is a sacred site for the local Bundjalung people, who ask that you don’t climb this extinct shield volcano. Instead, walk the Lyrebird track at its base through Gondwana rainforest, soak up the views from lookouts in the Border Ranges and Nightcap national parks, picnic on the “secret” hill at Mavis’s Kitchen opens in new window in Uki or stay in the Mountain View Villa at Urliup’s Mistere retreat, where you’ll wake to views of the misty 1156-metre peak.
Tour a distillery
First came the French-style agricole rum and then the chameleonic Ink Gin. Now, pioneering Husk Distillers opens in new window has a cellar door and bar where you can sip seasonal cocktails, enjoy snacks and tour the plantation distillery. Many of their ingredients, including the pH-sensitive butterfly pea flower that colours the gin, are grown on the Messenger family’s 60-hectare cane and cattle property in tiny North Tumbulgum. Try pronouncing that after a tasting flight or two!
Find a sweet spot
The secret to the perfect croissant, according to artisan baker Gavin Rudd, is “a thin, crisp, shattery crust, a soft, buttery crumb and a balanced sweet-salty-nutty flavour”. Normally, you’d have to go to France for the real deal, however, Baked at Ancora opens in new window is replicating authentic pastries, savoury treats and bread right here in Tweed Heads. Grab a locally roasted Ground Control coffee, something sweet and a shady spot in the bakery’s riverfront garden.