Published: 11 July 2013 by: Natalie Bannister

Sneaking in a little one-on-one time together can make for a very romantic sojourn – and with an endless supply of natural beauty and secluded locations on our doorstep, Australia really is the perfect place for a mini break. Take time out at a sunny seaside resort, breathe in the fresh country air, or indulge your senses at a tropical retreat. Head out and enjoy some homegrown attractions ... 

Discover the quaint towns, near-deserted beaches, beautiful hinterland and a surprising ‘foodie-culture’ in the most northern parts of New South Wales.

Head just south of the Queensland border and you will find yourself amongst the lush green coastal and hinterland area of the Tweed and Byron Shires, collectively known as the Northern Rivers. It’s one of the most magical and diverse corners of the country, with so many unique and charming villages, hamlets and communities that are just made for touring by car (and perfect for a short break!).

 Even the locals will tell you, when they have time off it’s usually to hit the road and go exploring or to enjoy the local markets, cafes, fine dining and shopping.

From the quaint coastal towns stretching from Kingscliff and the resort area of Salt and Casuarina on the border, the fishing town of Brunswick Heads, the bohemian chic of Byron Bay and the relaxed village vibe of beautiful Bangalow, to the hinterland centres of Murwillumbah, Mullumbimby and the Mount Warning and Wollumbin region and beyond, the Tweed and Byron Shires have that unique mix of the dynamic and the zen.

Little wonder so many of Australia’s most creative characters have flocked to shack up or holiday here – it tends to attract lovers of a relaxed lifestyle. We asked some of the resident identities to give us their insider’s knowledge on where to wine, dine, shop and play in the the Northern Rivers, local style!

TWEED SHIRE

MARK VAN RENEN

CRYSTAL CREEK RAINFOREST RETREAT


LOCAL DRIVE

The circuit around Mt Warning, stopping off at Flutterbies in Tyalgum for coffee or a light meal. Then on to Brays Creek camping ground and take the walk down to some magnificent old fig trees with huge buttress roots. Drop in to Uki and visit the colourful market before returning to Murwillumbah.


BEACH EXPERIENCE

Head to Fingal Headland to see the migrating whales - they come in very close to the shore there!

 

WEEKEND OR SHORT BREAK

Spend the day at the beach and then have lunch at Brunswick Heads pub which has good bands playing on Sunday afternoons – it’s a favourite with the locals and always very colourful.


NATALIE BANNISTER

WRITER, HOLIDAYS FOR COUPLES


ROMANTIC DINING

On the Tweed Coast, head to any one of the many great restaurants at Salt Village in Kingscliff for a cosy meal. For breakfast you can find us soaking up the sunshine in the courtyard of White Jade in the quiet coastal town of Pottsville. And down Byron way, we always find our afternoon delights curled up on a daybed or lounging over perfect cocktails and tapas with some people watching at The Balcony.


BEACH EXPERIENCE

You can usually count the beachgoers on one hand on the beach walk from Pottsville to Hastings Point – bliss! For swims, barbeques and picnics it’s the protected inlet at Hastings or the cove at Cabarita Beach … hike up the stairs to the headland for one of the most spectacular views of the coastline. You might catch sight of the migrating humpback whales breaching just offshore!

 

LOCAL SHOPPING

I love the shopping in Bangalow – Heath’s Old Wares & Collectables for vintage delights, Island Luxe for some seriously fab fashions, and Our Corner Store for cool and quirky homewares.

PETER CLARKE & CHARLIE EBELL

MAVIS’S KITCHEN

 

LOCAL DRIVE

We love the drive around Mt Warning from Uki through Tyalgum and Chillingham, or The Border Ranges loop which is about a three-hour round trip from Uki. You will see 2000-year-old Antarctic Beech trees, beautiful rainforest & views of the Mt Warning Caldera from the Pinnacle Lookout.


NATURAL WONDERS

One of the best is just outside our back door – the Mt Warning Summit Walk, a return hike of about five hours. Another must see in our little valley is the rainforest Lyre Bird Walk.


WEEKEND OR SHORT BREAK

Our winter weekend favourite is to stay at home here at Mavis’s Kitchen and enjoy a big roast dinner by the open fireplace. By spring and summer, it’s a drive out to the township of Nimbin to check out the village and the colourful locals, have a nice organic breakfast, then it’s back to Mavis’s and a swim in the creek to cool down.

BYRON SHIRE

COLIN HEANEY

GLASS ARTIST & DESIGNER


ROMANTIC LUNCH OR DINNER

I love to dine at Rae’s at Wategos and enjoy the view during a sunny day or the atmosphere by night.


BEACH EXPERIENCE

I have surfed for 30 years at all the beaches around Byron Bay, and along the coast. Now I love to take a long walk down along Tallows Beach, swims in the bay or getting down to Whites Beach for secluded beach time.


WEEKEND OR SHORT BREAK

Take a long walk at the beach, up to the lighthouse or in a forest nearby, head to the local markets for inspiration and enjoying our local alternative culture. In the evening I would head out for a good dance and to see friends.


SHANNON FRICKE

INTERIOR & HOMEWARES DESIGNER, STYLIST, AUTHOR & TV PRESENTER


LOCAL DRIVE

I love the Coolamon Scenic Drive from the Pacific Highway to Mullumbimby – it’s a little windy, but you can take in the full view from the lighthouse to the mountains. It never fails to inspire.


BEACH EXPERIENCE

Clarkes Beach is my favourite section of Byron Bay beach. And it’s but a quick hop up to the Byron Beach Cafe which is a bonus! Otherwise, the bush walk from Captain Cook carpark up to the lighthouse is sublime and perfect for getting the heart rate pumping!


LOCAL SHOPPING

Island Luxe in Bangalow and Island Luxe Tribe on Marvell Street in Byron are a treasure trove of gorgeousness, and Red Ginger (in both Byron Bay and Bangalow) is Yum Cha heaven!


WEEKEND OR SHORT BREAK

The markets are always fun – particularly Bangalow and the Channon if you’re after an authentic flavour. A dip at the Pass or Clarkes Beach at sunset is a lovely way to end the day.

ELIZABETH BRIEDIS

SPELL & THE GYPSY COLLECTIVE


BREAKFAST & COFFEE

For a decadent, perfectly ‘countrychic’ breakfast experience, Harvest in the village of Newrybar is perfect. On a Saturday morning the wood-fire oven in the bakery downstairs is ablaze and a spread of gorgeous pastries sits on rustic wooden boards – perfect with your morning coffee.


ROMANTIC LUNCH OR DINNER

You can’t go past the dimly lit, romantic atmosphere of Italian on the Pacific in Byron Bay. They have nice little rounded booths to sit at under palm trees and if you’re lucky you can taste the salt spray from the ocean in the air.


LOCAL SHOPPING

There’s a great little hub at the Arts & Industry Park just out of Byron town centre, with all sorts of wonderful local artisans and designers having opened show rooms and boutiques – perfect for ‘couple-shopping’ because for every fashion boutique for her there’s also a surfboard shaping factory or glass blowing workshop for him!


WEEKEND OR SHORT BREAK

Lots of good food and wine at every meal, lots of sunrise and sunset walks, a relaxing massage or spa treatment or two. And of course, my partner Johnny would want to surf any chance he could, so I’d say there would be quite a bit of beach time!

JAI VASICEK

ARTIST AND OWNER OF AHOY TRADER


BREAKFAST & COFFEE

I love eating at Bay Leaf on Marvell Street, it’s my favourite spot for coffee and breakfast, a fun place and a local’s hang-out - and always pumping out great music!


LOCAL DRIVE

Driving along the coast to Broken Head, or out to Whites Beach is an amazing part of Byron Bay. The drive to Lennox is amazing too, it hugs the coastline and is just so beautiful.


BEACH EXPERIENCE

I love swimming and surfing at The Pass – it always has a nice wave, it’s fun and a great spot to scope the coastline of Byron. You can see Mt Warning from the Point ... and you can always see dolphins.


WEEKEND OR SHORT BREAK

You would find me on the beach, with a book. And if there is a market on I would check it out, followed by the afternoon drinking cocktails at St Elmos (stelmodining.com) on Fletcher Street in Byron Bay. The boys there know how to make amazing cocktails ... try their Chilli Margaritas!

THREE DAY DRIVE

The scenic beauty of the Tweed Valley and the endless stretches of unspoilt beaches, rolling surf and tranquil inlets of the Tweed Coast make the region a haven for long weekend getaways. Base yourself anywhere in the region, from cottages at the base of Mount Warning to the five-star Peppers Bale on the coast and everything in the region is only a short drive away. Here’s a perfect long weekend package to see the best that the Tweed has to offer ...


Day 1

Arrive at Gold Coast Airport, pick up a hire car and make your way to your accommodation. Enroute stop in at Tropical Fruit World, home of the world’s largest variety of tropical fruit. The rest of your day – relax on the beach. Talk a walk along the seemingly endless, unspoilt beaches and call into Salt for an afternoon drink as the sun starts to set. Try one of the many local restaurants for dinner tonight, take your pick from Thai, Italian, seafood, Nepalese, fine dining – you are spoiled for choice.


Day 2

Today is about exploring the stunning volcanic landscape that is the Tweed Valley. Start your day with a visit to the Tweed River Art Gallery in Murwillumbah, before heading south to Stokers Siding, home to the famous Stokers Siding pottery.

Drive through the stunning scenery to Uki, the Tweed Valley’s artistic hub where you can wander through working galleries and stop and enjoy the local vibe in one of the cafes. Lunch at Mavis’s Kitchen, set at the base of Mount Warning, enjoy spectacular views whilst eating delicious home cooked, organic food. After lunch, explore Mount Warning before heading back to your accommodation for the night.


Day 3

It’s all about the water today. Head to Cudgen Creek in Kingscliff and hire a stand up paddle board – or a two-person kayak and explore the waterways surrounding Kingscliff. Why not learn to surf together, or grab a rod and some bait and try your hand at fishing? Not one for hitting the water? Take a cruise with Tweed Endeavour and explore the waterways by boat, or join a Catch a Crab cruise where you get to eat your catch of the day!

Head back to the airport this afternoon, or why not stay an extra day and explore more of the stunning Tweed Valley. The options are endless and packages can be tailor made, just for you. For this or other itinerary and accommodation ideas, contact Destination Tweed.

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