EXPLORING THE GORGEOUS TWEED VALLEY
A day exploring the Tweed Valley should be on the top of your list if you are planning a getaway to the Northern NSW Coast. It’s an easy drive from Tweed Heads, Kingscliff, Cabarita and even Byron Bay and is bound to impress. If you are not familiar with this part of the world I am sure by the bottom of the page you will want to plan a visit.
Where is the Tweed Valley?
Lying to the south of Tweed Heads in Northern New South Wales is the rich, verdant area of the Tweed Valley. This lush green valley is a popular spot for day-trippers that are visiting the Tweed Coast. It’s also a very worthy detour when driving up the east coast of Australia.
Snaking its way through this valley is the Tweed River, rising to the eastern slopes of the Great Dividing Range. The adjoining lands are red-soiled and fertile, making it perfect for many types of farming, from sprawling cane fields to dairy farms, to avocado plantations.
Effectively a caldera, the valley was formed from the now extinct volcano of Mount Warning, traditionally known as Mount Wollumbin.
Mount Wollumbin and the entire Wollumbin National Park holds great significance to the Bundjalung people. It is also part of the extensive World Heritage Gondwana Rainforest areas of Australia.
Take a Road Trip Through the Tweed Valley
It’s an easy and manageable day trip from the Tweed Coast or the Gold Coast to the Tweed Valley. Heading south on the main highway from the Queensland/New South Wales border, take the turnoff for the Tweed Valley Way towards Murwillumbah.
This road takes you along the river, where there are many places you can stop to take in the gorgeous views and the ever-looming Mount Wollumbin in the background.
The drive takes you through expansive cane fields, and river towns, like Tumbulgum and Condong, that were once integral ports for the thriving local timber-felling industry.
Once you reach the regional centre of Murwillumbah, there are a couple of options. Either head towards the town of Burringbah, visiting the Tweed Regional Art Gallery along the route or drive towards Mount Warning and the village of Uki.
Villages of the Tweed
There are several paddock-to-plate restaurants of interest along the way and certainly loads of quirky, art-farty little villages that are worth a stroll around. Nature lovers can partake in some spectacular hinterland hiking trails and enjoy an abundance of flora and fauna.
Situated in the centre of the region, this attractive riverside town is the regional hub for the surrounding area. Murwillumbah boasts some interesting, art-deco architecture along its main street.
It has a fascinating art scene with the Tweed Regional Art Gallery, one of the main attractions, the M-Arts Precinct and the open-air art walk by the river.
The foodie scene is robust and vibrant, possessing a great choice of places to wine and dine.
Only a hop, skip and jump down the road is the quaint little village of Uki. It sits on the eastern face of the mountain and has an organic-alternate vibe. Worth seeing on your stop here is the beautifully restored old Norco Butter Factory accommodating art studios, funky bric-a-brac stores, and an antique shop. The pub serves up a tasty counter lunch too if you’re hungry.
A picturesque driving circuit around Mount Warning will bring you to the old timber town of Tyalgum. Here you will discover a blossoming, vibrant village with lovingly restored, quaint old buildings transformed into cottage cafes, gift shops, and art galleries.
Flutterbies Cottage Cafe is a must-see with the most decadent Devonshire tea, served by waitresses dressed in period costumes. The arts and crafts village behind the cafe is full of delightful hidden treasures too.
A short driving distance from Tyalgum lie two tiny villages worth checking out. Chillingham is located on the Rous River, a tributary of the Tweed River and is as pretty as a picture. Stop by the old Chillingham Store or take a stroll through the bush tucker garden behind the unique fruit and veggie shed called Buck’s Farm.
Heading east of Chillingham, you will cross a charming old bridge across the river to Crystal Creek. If you have children aboard, visit the unique miniature horse stud farm, boasting some cute miniature farm animals, a café with gorgeous rainforest views, and a tourist train ride.
If you have time to stop for a night, indulge in a bit of luxury at the beautiful and remote Crystal Creek Rainforest Retreat.
A firm favourite for day-trippers is the town of Tumbulgum. From the jetty, you can jump on a boat cruise along the Tweed River, water ski, picnic on the shores, or take advantage of a couple of great places to dine. The Tumbulgum Pub offers tasty food with views to die for.
Husk Distillers can set you up with an excellent Australian rum or gin. Take a 40-minute distillery tour, taste the famous ink gin and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.
Driving 18 kilometres southeast of Murwillumbah is the very rural town of Burringbar set in the valley of the Burringbar Ranges. Highlights of Burringbar is a tour of the Tweed Valley Whey Cheese Factory, browsing antiques at Heath’s Old Wares and Collectibles, and shopping for unique homewares at Little Peach in the Burringbar Gallery.
Tours of the Tweed
Get out of the driver’s seat for a while and let a local show you why this part of the world is so special.
- Tweed Eco Cruises – book yourself on a river cruise Choose from a lunch cruise or a crab catching adventure
- Gin and Rum Distillery tour and tasting – This tour to Husk Distillery departs from Kingscliff, perfect if you want a day free from driving. It includes lunch at Mavis Kitchen and cocktails at Paper Daisy.
- Full day Food and Drink Tour of the Hinterland – Departing from the Gold Coast visit organic farms, Husk Distillers, Earth Brewery and more.
Tweed Valley Hiking Trails
There are five national parks within the Tweed region, with waterfalls, riverfront trails and bushwalks for ability.
- Wollumbin National Park – closed until November 2021. The summit track drew hikers chasing the first sunrise of the day. It is a significant sacred site for the Bundjalung people and discussions are underway to determine the best way for visitors to access the summit.
- Mebbin National Park -Byrrill Creek walking track, a 1km track especially suited to bird lovers.
- Nightcap National Park – Don’t miss Minyon Falls and Protestor Falls Lookouts.
- Mount Jerusalem National Park – Hell Hole Falls, a series of rock pools linked by small waterfalls.
- Border Ranges National Park – Pinnacle walk and lookout less than a km to stunning 360° views.
- Clarrie Hall Dam and Crams Farm Reserve – paddle, kayak, drop a line or have a picnic.
Tweed Valley Food Trail
Throughout the valley, you will encounter many farm gate stalls selling their fresh produce. Crops of sweet potatoes, avocadoes, mangoes, bananas, pineapples, salad greens and vegetables are aplenty.
- Husk Farm Distillery – offers a range of rum and gin distilled from ingredients on the farm. Take a distillery tour, purchase from the cellar door or enjoy a delicious lunch in their restaurant.
- Tweed Valley Whey Cheese Factory – uses the milk from the surrounding dairy farm to make their selection of fine cheeses. Indulge in some cheese tasting, purchase some cheeses and sip a coffee afterwards in their outdoor cafe.
- Tropical Fruit World – is an educational tourist attraction with plenty to keep the whole family entertained. See, taste and learn about fruits grown from all over the world grown on the farm.
- Buck’s Farm – has a great range of bush foods and exotic fruits available for purchase.
- Ventura Brewing – is famous for its hard kombucha beverages that are brewed on the premises.
- Madura Tea – offers a range of twenty different types of teas grown on the plantation.
Tweed Valley Arts & Crafts
Download a Murwillumbah Arts Trail map and explore the absorbing trail. Some of the highlights include:
- Tweed Regional Art Gallery/Margaret Ollie Studio – learn more about one of Australia’s best female artists
- Uki Post Office Gallery – discover talented local artists in the 1909 heritage-listed Uki Post Ofﬁce
- Uki Buttery Bazaar – the market is held every third Sunday
- Makers and Finders Markets – handmade, vintage and flea market held on the third Saturday at Knox Park Murwillumbah
- Tyalgum Village Markets – held the last Saturday of the month from 9am til 3pm
- M-Arts Precinct – a blend of old and new art and delicious food
- Burringbar Gallery – antiques, local art and coffee
Where to Eat in the Tweed Valley
Foodies will be in heaven with the quality and quantity of fabulous places to dine in the valley, choose from good, old country pub food, interesting coffee shops and fine dining restaurants.
Most eateries in the Tweed use locally grown fresh produce sourced from the region.
We recommend you check out as many of these as you can:
- Potager Kitchen Garden – a lunch you will remember
- Mount Warning Hotel aka Uki Pub – a great lunch destination
- Riverview Pub – Traditional pub food with beautiful water views
- Mavis’s Kitchen – An organic kitchen garden offering country style goodness
- Flutterbies Cottage Cafe -High tea with a twist
- Tumbulgum Tavern -another riverside pub with affordable eats
- House of Gabriel – Tropical garden setting by the river
Where to Stay in the Tweed Valley
Immerse yourself into the natural beauty and scenery of the Northern Rivers region with a range of eco-style resorts and retreats.
There are excellent options for all budgets:
- Mavis’s Kitchen and Cabins – pet friendly 1-3 bedroom cabins,
- Crystal Creek Rainforest Retreat – a luxury stay in the rainforest
- Cutters Campground – sites in Mebbin National Park for tents, and motorhomes/caravans
- Wollumbin Palms Rainforest Retreat – self contained cottages with hot tubs, fireplaces and balconies
- Mount Warning Estate – a romantic one bedroom villa with outdoor bath and fabulous views
- Midginbil Eco Resort – a working cattle farm with campsites, glamping and cabins
- Hosanna Farm Stay – dog and child friendly campsites and cabins
- Mistere at Urliup – located in pristine rainforest, the property features a dam, palm grove and glow worm cave!
How to get to the Tweed
Drive: The 820km drive from Sydney takes about 8.5hrs. From Brisbane, it’s approx. 135km, about a 2-hour drive.
Fly: Brisbane Airport, Gold Coast/Coolangatta Airport, or the Ballina/Byron Gateway Airport.
Bus and train services will also get you to the region but it is best explored with a car.
Feature Image Credit: Destination NSW
About the Author: Kathy Marris lives on the Tweed Coast of Far North New South Wales and is a travel writer and blogger at www.50shadesofage.com. She has travelled extensively throughout Australia accompanied by her husband and dog, in a caravan and four-wheel drive. Kathy’s biggest passion is photography and writing about all the brilliant places she has been to in Australia