The Tweed Travel Guide

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Mt Warning at Dawn

Mt Warning at Dawn

Tracy Parker

Whilst other shires claim to be the gateway to the rainforests, in the Tweed you have actually arrived.

Nestled up against the NSW/Queensland Border and stretching down the coast and hinterland, the Tweed is frequently overlooked as people travel the Highway from the Gold Coast to Byron Shire. This is a huge mistake, for the Tweed boasts unsurpassed beauty with the largest sub-tropical rainforest remnant and the biggest extinct shield volcano in the world ~ ok so the Hawaiians think they have a bigger one, but as most of theirs is under-water you tell me, does that really count? Many of the beautiful posters you find promoting the rainforests in other parts of Australia, were in fact taken in one of the World Heritage Listed National Parks in the Tweed Shire. You’ve seen the adverts promoting Byron Bay as being close to Mt Warning? Well Mt Warning is actually in the centre of the Tweed Shire, a good 45 minutes drive from Byron and away from the overcrowding of that more well-publicised destination.

From the Tweed coastal region ~ an unspoiled 37 km strip of pristine beach, dotted with small towns offering a range of eateries and resorts ~ to the beautiful hinterland valleys and mountains with quaint villages, sidewalk cafés, galleries, arts and crafts, the Tweed has something to satisfy all tastes and pockets.

The Tweed is the most bio-diverse region in Australia, with cultural diversity and a terrific climate ~ the summer mean temperature range is 18 to 30C and winter is a marvellous experience with mean temperatures ranging from 7 to 22C, which means log fires at night and t-shirts and shorts during the day.

The Tweed is home to five World Heritage listed National Parks, including the famous Mt Warning ~ the eroded central plug of the world’s largest extinct shield volcano and the place where the dawn sun first touches Australia. You can marvel at pre-historic rainforests with rivers and creeks meandering through lush green valleys, relax on pristine beaches, enjoy galleries, villages and all manner of activities, from golf and guided rainforest tours, to horse-riding and scenic joy-flights for the more energetic.

Visitors from Sydney or Melbourne take a 1 hour flight to Coolangatta airport and hire a car for total freedom to enjoy the area. Two minutes after you leave the airport you cross the border into NSW and the Northern end of the Tweed Shire. From Brisbane the Tweed is a 90 minute drive South. As you take the Tweed Valley Way turnoff on the Highway from the Gold Coast to Murwillumbah, you’ll know that you’re nearing your destination when you see Mt Warning towering over the cane fields that line the road. Named Wollumbin, meaning “Cloud Catcher” by the Bundjalung people who lived in the area before European settlement, it stands like a huge reminder that we’re nearing the hub of the Tweed Shire. An alternate route is via Nerang-Murwillumbah Road, through the Gold Coast hinterland.

Just off Tweed Valley Way, nestled in a small park by the Tweed River is the Murwillumbah Rainforest and Information Centre. It’s here you learn Murwillumbah means “place of many possums" and find a fascinating display of how the erupting volcano formed the area’s unique topography.

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, you can’t help but notice that 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.

Once a year in September the streets of Murwillumbah are closed for the hugely popular Speed on Tweed Classic Car Race, whilst 25 minutes out of town in a small village called Tyalgum the classical music glitterati gather for the annual Festival of Classical Music.

As well as pristine rainforests, impressive mountains and beautiful countryside, the Tweed is a haven for local craftspeople and you’ll enjoy discovering the many galleries and craft shops which display their wares in the various picturesque villages dotted around the hinterland. Try to find time to visit the new multi-million dollar art gallery. Just 2 minutes south of Murwillumbah, the art gallery is home to the richest portrait prize in Australia, the Doug Moran prize. Later on you can dine at one of the local restaurants, have a flutter at one of the regular thoroughbred race-days at Murwillumbah Race Track, visit the Tweed Coast for some of Australia’s best beaches, enjoy one-day river and rainforest cruises ~ or catch your own crab lunch with Catch a Crab Tours, browse the various regular local markets, or just relax at your chosen accommodation with a good book.

Golfers will enjoy a round at beautiful Murwillumbah Championship Golf Course, arguably one of the finest in Australia. Close to Mt Warning National Park, the towering mountain peak is ever-present as you traverse the spectacular layout. The natural beauty and serenity of the course has to be experienced to be believed and no keen golfer should miss the opportunity to play here.

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