“The Tweed is experiencing somewhat of a renaissance; this under-the-radar gem on the NSW North Coast has been quietly gathering a collection of must-visit attractions worthy of a weekend away.”
Australian Traveller Magazine
Cabarita Beach is the perfect central location to base yourself and make the most of everything the Tweed has to offer. With only three roads to choose from for a day-trip from Caba, you only need decide which adventure to take first.
The road to the North takes you to the villages of Salt, Kingscliff, Cudgen, Chinderah and Fingal Head.
The road to the South takes you to destinations like Hastings Point, Pottsville, Burringbar, Mooball, Brunswick Heads, Mullumbimby and Byron Bay.
The road to the West takes you away from the coast through nature reserves, rural landscapes and country towns into the heart of the Mount Warning/Wollumbin caldera.
Visit the rural villages of Tumbulgum, Tyalgum, Uki and the country town of Murwillumbah or take the climb up the majestic mountain itself. Continue over the Border Ranges to experience Nimbin, the home of the 1973 Aquarius Festival and now the annual Nimbin Mardigrass Festival.
Today, let’s head north; remember to pack shoes, goggles, swimmers, towels & sun cream.
Take Tweed Coast Road as far as Casuarina, take the turn at Barclay Drive where you will find the acclaimed restaurant Osteria. Make your way north along Casuarina Way past the Casuarina shopping precinct to the next popular restaurant, Spice Den, located in the Santai Resort, I recommend Osteria for breakfast or lunch and Spice Den for a special dinner experience.
Continue on Casuarina Way to the resort area of Salt (Kingscliff South). Here you’ll find resort style shopping and a variety of wonderful restaurants including, Season, Bombay Cricketers Club, Fins, Mahsuri Thai, Sea Salt Ristorante Pizzeria and The Salt Bar and Bistro with a more relaxed seaside pub atmosphere and amenities such as live entertainment, bottle shop and TAB.
As you cross into Kingscliff North, be ready to be wonderstruck by the sight of our beautiful recreational waterway as you cross the bridge over tidal Cudgen Creek. Fingers crossed the weather and tide are just right as you won’t be able to resist a swim. This is where you’ll be glad you packed those goggles and swimmers.
On your right next to the bridge is the Ed Parker Rotary Park, where you can hire a SUP (standup paddle board) from the Watersports Guru. The tide has a major influence on the best time of day to SUP, swim or snorkel so check tide times before planning your day.
The Ed Parker Rotary Park is a great place to spend some time. There are free BBQs, picnic tables, access to the creek for a swim or snorkel. For the nature lovers, the parkland and creek are a wonderland. The birds are abundant, I’ve observed at least 40 species of birds that frequent the creek and surrounding nature reserve, including the endangered pied oyster catcher, parrots, pelicans and a variety of egrets and herons but my favourite are the resident ospreys. You will find a pair on or near their nest on the northern seawall of the creek, their two-year-old son, King, hangs out centrally between the bridge and the nest, he’s not the best fisherman but he catches one every now and again. You will often see another eating his catch atop the street light on the middle of the bridge. From the park you can take a walk to the end of the seawalls on either side of the creek, take your fishing rod to catch whiting, flathead, mullet, silver or black bream along the walls or beaches of the creek.
If you want to snorkel to observe a large variety of fish, including colourful tropical fish, don’t stop at the park, take the first right hand corner into Moss Street, at the end you’ll find a park with a great playground for the kids and access into the water. Find your way to the other side of the seaway tower and check out the osprey nest nearby. Past the tower towards the ocean you will find ‘Little Beach’, between the rock walls, that accesses the creek. This beach is popular with families with small children and safe place to swim, the best time is one hour before high tide. Set yourself up with your goggles and slip into the current and follow alongside the rock wall up the creek, not towards the ocean, you won’t believe the number and variety of fish and possibly other sea creatures you will see. Hop out at the boat ramp and do it again.
Kingscliff offers more shopping, and wining and dining options. Whatever you do, don’t miss the view from the Kingscliff Surf Club veranda, while enjoying a meal or a drink overlooking the magnificent beach. There’s always something to see. Surfers, kite surfers, patrolling ospreys & sea eagles and, if you’re lucky, dolphins and whales are not an unusual sight.
Take a stroll along Marine Parade and have a coffee, juice or ice cream. Treat yourself to a new dress or board shorts or a good book for those lazy days by the sea. For that special dining experience, you can’t go wrong with lunch or dinner at the highly acclaimed Taverna Greek restaurant.
In the arcade next to Subway you will find a couple of Kingscliff gems, visit Josie at her Beach Shack for smoothies, juices, frozen yoghurt or grab a quick healthy lunch.
In the back of the arcade you will find the Cinemax movie cinema with two boutique cinemas showing arthouse and current movies. Choose something delicious from the extensive food and drinks menu to have delivered to your seat during the show. It certainly rivals Gold Class!
Parking can be a bit scarce in Kingscliff but if you want to visit any of the businesses in the arcade, they have a large underground carpark with its access in the lane behind the building.
While you’re in this neck of the woods you could continue in a northerly direction onto Fingal Head via Chinderah Bay Drive, a pleasant drive along the banks of the Tweed River. Pop into the She-oak Shack for food and drinks where occasionally you will find live local entertainment.
Park at the end of Lighthouse Parade, its time to stretch your legs. Take the walking track to the historic lighthouse and headland. The commanding view takes in Cook Island, first sighted by Captain James Cook on 16th May 1770. It is very common to see dolphins surfing the waves from this vantage point but also keep an eye out for whales, sharks and green sea turtles.
Back track now to Chinderah where you find the Chinderah Tavern with a large deck overlooking the river, the best pub food in the area and a terrific spot to watch the sunset with a cold bevvy.
Next door is Cubby Bakehouse, a very popular French inspired bakery specialising in traditional French baguettes, which are crafted and baked constantly throughout the day to guarantee freshness.
Leave the river now and head into the red-soil farmland country for those must-visit paddock-to-plate experiences. I hope you’ve left enough time for all three; Farm and Co, Cudgen Red Earth Brewing and Tropical Fruit World. From the traffic lights on Tweed Coast Road, head west on Cudgen Road. The next three attractions are less than five minutes-drive between each other so choose where to go first and last depending on the time of day.
Cudgen Red Earth Brewing the newest Tweed experience is set to open their door in mid-November, situated on the rich red volcanic soils of the Cudgen farmland, Red Earth Brewing is a small craft brewery housed in the farm packing shed of a 25acre family property. It was started firstly to add diversity to the farm and secondly to connect people to the surrounding countryside.
The unique venue is low key and authentic to its setting, the welcome is warm for locals and travellers alike. Sit and enjoy the company of others while tasting a variety or beer styles including Ales, Pilsners and Lagers brewed by the part-owner and experienced brewer, Zeke.
All these cold bevvies are brewed on site and served only metres away ensuring the beer is as fresh as it gets! Enjoy a light meal before moving on.
Farm and Co offers the true paddock-to-plate experience. The café menu is packed with healthy breakfast and lunch choices, all created with their own organically-grown produce on the surrounding farm.
While you’re there take a stroll around the farm, breathe in the fresh air, show the kids where real food comes from. The sunflower paddock is something to behold with great photo opportunities to feed your social media envy. The farm also homes rescue animals so don’t miss out on saying hi to the chooks and calves. Before you leave pick up some fresh organic veges from their produce store.
Tropical Fruit World first opened as a tourist attraction in 1983 and is the original paddock-to-plate farm. This is where you’ll need those shoes as Tropical Fruit World is a working farm, with some naturally uneven pathways and walking surfaces.
Set amongst rainforest, water catchments and the rolling volcanic mineral soil from the caldera of Mount Warning, this working fruit farm is situated in the prime environment to grow over 500 fruit varieties from around the world. The Tropical Fruit World brand encompasses guided tours and tastings, the farm owned fruit market Plantation Markets, and a regional dining and event venue called Plantation House. This is coupled with a unique collection of skincare and food products known as The Plantation Collection.
Allow plenty of time here, it won’t just be the kids who learn, see or taste something new. Have a look at their website beforehand to help plan your experience.
Time to back track to your chosen venue for dinner, if you’ve left room, otherwise make your way back via Tweed Coast Road to the Pandanus Café, Cabarita Surf club or The Beach Hotel for a cold beverage overlooking the Pacific Ocean as the sun sets on another beautiful day in Paradise.
Obviously you are not going to be able to visit and enjoy everything I’ve crammed into one day, but this is meant to be a guide to assist you to select the experiences available in this direction from Cabarita Beach for your enjoyment and those that you’ll have to come back for tomorrow or during your next visit to Caba.