Just a short drive over the Queensland border you will discover alluring seaside communities dotted along a supreme coastline. Incredible food and beverage to satisfy all taste buds and attractions the whole family will enjoy. These coastal communities are the perfect sanctuary for travellers both near and far who are seeking a day trip, weekend getaway or extended holiday. We are sharing with you below some of the best things to do in Northern New South Wales with kids.
The Christmas school holidays provided us with a unique opportunity to visit somewhere that is only a short drive away yet see from a tourist’s perspective. I’m not oblivious to the fact that school holidays are the most expensive time to travel and if you want to put a dent in the piggy bank than a trip in January will help you accomplish this but, sometimes it may be the only option. So, with me knowing what to expect when I was trawling the internet for somewhere to go, we opted for a two-night getaway just over the border in Northern NSW. It was a perfect escape, and even though we had visited on many occasions, we had never seen many of the various attractions around the area. We share our itinerary and some of the best things to do in Northern New South Wales with kids.
DAY 1: Fresh is Best (Tropical Fruit World)
If you are travelling from the Gold Coast, take advantage of Tropical Fruit World’s location, and visit the 65 hectare (175 acres) farm on your way down the coast. By opting to see this attraction first, it also gave us an added advantage of arriving at opening time which we learned was a wise decision as it allowed ample time to spend at Tropical Fruit World without rushing.
The farm has 360 degrees of picturesque views. The magnificent Mount Warning and Tweed cane fields can be seen in the distance. While the lush green rolling hills are a result of the deluge of rain, they receive in this area each year.
The rich red soil is ideally suited to grow tropical fruit and was one of the main reasons it was purchased by Bob and Val Brinsmead in 1972. The plantation has an array of different fruit from all regions that can be seen when you take the tractor tour around the farm. Bounce along on the open trailer while listening to the enthusiastic farm guide explain the history and point out the different fruits along the way.
Of course, you don’t visit a fruit farm without being able to sample some of the produce, and there is nothing tastier than fresh fruit from a farm. We tried the bananas and macadamias while on our tour through the plantation. Previous to this we went to a fruit tasting workshop, where our taste buds were delighted with an array of fruits from common to peculiar – a brilliant way to get the kids excited about trying new foods.
The enjoyment does not stop there; the farm was created with additional fun activities from a boat and train ride, an animal farmyard, a playground, and recreation area. When we decided to call it a day, it was time to rest our legs and refuel in the café. We soon discovered it was another area to taste more of the fabulous dressings, sauces, and local honey as well as testing some of the delectable skin care products.
29 Duranbah Rd, Duranbah NSW
Beach life (Hastings Beach)
When we travel we learned long ago to incorporate something for everyone within the day – compromise is key! So, even though we knew the girls would have a blast at our activities as they were all family-friendly, we planned them for the morning and then scheduled in the much needed “rest time” in the afternoon.
We know there are spectacular beaches all along the coastline, and as our girls love the beach, we ensured we were near them for our afternoon siesta. The beach outings each afternoon are fundamentally the definition of “slow travel” for us, and we feel they are one of the best ways for us to connect and spend quality time together as a family. There are some patrolled beaches up and down the coast, no matter where you choose to stay it’s likely you’ll be able to claim your patch of white sand while frolicking in the ocean waters.
If you prefer not to tackle the ocean waves, then there is another option; Hastings Point Inlet is where Cudgera Creek curves its way round to meet the ocean and in turn, creates an aquatic playground for everyone. The combination of sandy beaches that stretch around the outside of the creek bed and clear, calm waters are perfect ingredients for an extremely popular swimming area.
If you have early risers, and you are staying close to the beach make the most of this time. It’s not often that I have the opportunity to watch the sun rise over the ocean, so I used our trip away as an opportunity to seize the moment. It was fulfilling being one of the first people to grace the sand that day, and your senses are heightened as you take in the surroundings while waiting for the sun to make its dramatic entrance.
Day 2: Far North Delights (Brunswick Heads)
Brunswick Heads popularity as a family friendly seaside destination dates back to as early as the 1920’s. With its rising popularity chances are you may have heard of this town appointed the little sister of Byron Bay it’s renowned for beautiful beaches, calm swimming areas, and trendy cafes.
Situated at the mouth of the Brunswick River, it is an ever-popular camping destination, and though the population is that of a small coastal village, you will be sure to find many visitors during the school holidays and on weekends, enjoying all the elements Brunswick Heads has to offer. Brunswick Heads is a place where you go to connect with nature and enjoy the outdoors by surfing, swimming, fishing, kayaking, golfing, bike riding and exploring natural surroundings by foot.
A major drawcard to this destination is everything is nearby, and you can easily walk around the township. One of the best ways to explore the streets is by taking the Brunswick fairy tour; collect a map from the visitor’s centre and wander the streets in search of the fairy houses and their hidden messages. The fairy walk was a hit with our girls as they excitedly ticked off the fairy houses on the list.
The trail will lead you over the timber bridges towards some of the finest beaches. There is no shortage of swimming areas at Brunswick Heads, with the river being a popular place you will find families playing in the shallow, calm waters. Torakina Beach is another ideal location for families as it’s situated between the break walls at the mouth of the Brunswick River; virtually swell free it is a perfect substitute to the main beach with ocean swells.
Easterly light (Fingal Lighthouse)
The sandy path bordered by dense plants and mangrove bushes leads the way to Fingal lighthouse, the oldest public building in the Tweed Shire. As much as we admire this historic landmark that sits proudly on the high bank, the main drawcard that has made us return to this place is the picturesque views that sweep from north to south along the coast.
Standing on one of the most easterly points in Australia the cliffs are cloaked with large hexagonal boulders formed from cooling lava from Mt Warning volcano 43 km’s away. If this is your first visit to the area, watch for dolphins that are often seen frolicking in the waves around this area.
Day 3: Tranquil Oasis (Crystal Castle & Shambhala Gardens)
Peaceful, magical, and beautiful are three words that come to mind when I remember our trip to the Crystal Castle and Shambhala Gardens. Contrary to what the name depicts you won’t find any fortified structures built during the middle ages, yet you will find a unique architecturally designed building that’s adorned with rare and amazing crystals.
You will need to take a 20-minute drive into the Byron Bay hinterland to reach Crystal Castle that’s nestled away in a stunning rainforest location set on 5 hectares. A business that started from humble beginnings the continual growth and development of the Crystal Castle & Shambhala Gardens has turned into one of the most well-known and award-winning destinations close to Byron Bay.
Walk through the exquisite sub-tropical gardens that are filled with sculptures, contemplation spaces, and the largest stone Blessing Buddha in Australia. The gardens display some of the largest crystals in the world that date back over 500 million years.
There are daily workshops and experiences to encounter during the day, a nutritiously rich café with spectacular views overlooking the Byron Shire and a retail shop to return home with your very own crystal and special keepsake of your visit to this enriching place.
81 Monet Dr, Montecollum NSW
Food Scene (Where to Eat)
With all the above sightseeing there is no doubt you will work up an appetite during your travels. Luckily the Northern New South Wales area has no shortage of trendy cafes, delicious restaurants, and tasty takeaway options. We can recommend the below based on their location, menu options and of course value for money:
The Brunswick Bakery is much more than your stock standard bakery, it is, in fact, one of the most popular eatery options in the town. Large enough to accommodate indoor dining, the open cafe has a long glass filled display selling all types of tasty delicacies from salad wraps, fruit salad, cakes, desserts, and of course some of the best pies and pastries around. A popular choice for those who want to grab a takeaway lunch and picnic down by the river. Due to the popularity of this establishment, it does tend to sell out of their freshly baked goods, so get in quick.
Hotel Brunswick is a local landmark in the small town and dates back to the early 1900’s. Taking advantage of the supreme weather in the area and picturesque views over the river Hotel Brunswick has a huge alfresco dining area, where you can sit under the shady poinciana trees or picnic umbrellas while having a drink or something to eat from their bistro, which delivers classic pub food. There is a kids menu to appease the fussiest of eaters, and it’s perfectly located across the road from a children’s playground.
When a café is busy on a Monday morning you know you have selected well. This small café may go unnoticed if you were driving past, but it is a popular choice by the locals – which is the reason why we stopped in for breakfast one morning. Good things come in small packages, and this is what can be said about the Pottsville Pantry. What they lack in café size they make up for with their portion sizes. Their quick counter style service, kid’s menu and little children’s corner cater well to families.
Though opened for breakfast and lunch, we stopped into the bakehouse for a sweet and savoury afternoon tea. The hardest decision was what to choose with so many delicious options available from pies, sausage rolls, quiches, cakes, and tarts. Fresh, fast and fabulous, it ticked all the boxes.
Where to Stay
There is a variety of accommodation options in Northern New South Wales from hotels, motels, caravan-holiday parks, serviced apartments, and more. On this occasion, we chose an Airbnb property as the location was perfectly suited to what you wanted for this stay and the price was more reasonable than other options.
If you aren’t familiar with Airbnb accommodation, I’d recommend you read THIS ARTICLE as it explains this style of accommodation, how to book and the tips. If you have never experienced an Airbnb stay before we have a special offer whereby you will receive an AUD 55 credit on your very first reservation when you sign up.
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