Just across the border from Queensland, the Tweed Shire is a magical landscape with a long stretch of coastline and a lush hinterland. Beautiful beaches, hinterland villages, organic farms and World Heritage-listed Wollumbin National Park make this a region you could spend days exploring.
Of the three main centres are Tweed Heads, Kingscliff and Murwillumbah, Murwillumbah is the Tweed region’s hinterland heart. The Tweed region is in New South Wales, right across from the Queensland border and so close that one of the things to do from the Gold Coast is to take a drive south to the Tweed. During daylight saving, there’s a one-hour time difference between Queensland and New South Wales.
- 1 Murwillumbah
- 1.1 20 Things To Do In Murwillumbah
- 1.1.1 1- Visit M|Arts Precinct
- 1.1.2 2- Go On The Facade Heritage Walk
- 1.1.3 3- Take The Murwillumbah Town Centre Heritage Walk
- 1.1.4 4- Have Lunch at Mavis’s Kitchen
- 1.1.5 5- Drink coffee at the Uki Post Office
- 1.1.6 6- Visit The Tweed Regional Gallery
- 1.1.7 7- Drink Gin At Husk Distillery
- 1.1.8 8- Explore Wollumbin-Mount Warning National Park
- 1.1.9 9- Go on a restaurant crawl
- 1.1.10 10- See The Graffiti Wall
- 1.2 Murwillumbah Markets and Cruises
- 1.3 Murwillumbah Driving Itineraries
- 1.4 Murwillumbah driving itinerary – Tweed Valley Circuit
- 1.5 Murwillumbah driving itinerary – the coast
- 1.6 Day trips from Murwillumbah
- 1.7 Murwillumbah Accommodation
- 1.1 20 Things To Do In Murwillumbah
By Christina Pfeiffer
Murwillumbah is a town in the heart of the Tweed Valley with an artistic vibe, surrounded by a lush landscape of valleys and hills. Packed with Art Deco architecture and galleries, Murwillumbah is the region’s creative hub on the Tweed River.
In the 1800s the area was famous for logging, and red cedars (or ‘Red Gold’) were floated down past Murwillumbah to the coast and loaded onto ships bound for England.
After the 20 years of boom and bust, the town turned to agriculture due to its fertile alluvial soil. These days, dairy, banana and sugar cane farms still thrive.
20 Things To Do In Murwillumbah
1- Visit M|Arts Precinct
M|Arts Precinct is a contemporary arts hub with artist studios housed in shipping containers.
The large industrial structure also has a central area with tables where you can hang out with the artists over a coffee or have a meal.
There are galleries, craft jewellery shops, a picture framing business and an excellent artist supplies store, Yellow Brick Studio.
A main attraction of the precinct is Gallery DownTown, which is associated with the Tweed Regional Gallery and Margaret Olley Art Centre.
M-Arts has a changing programme of exhibitions, featuring the work of many artists who live in the region.
M|Arts Precinct is at 1 Brisbane St, Murwillumbah.
2- Go On The Facade Heritage Walk
Get a copy off the Facade brochure at the Tweed Regional Museum and take yourself on a self-guided walk to admire Murwillumbah’s Art Deco architecture.
Highlights of the walk include leadlight windows, geometrically ‘stepped’ rooftops and sunburst ceilings.
In 1888, Murwillumbah had 23 buildings including a beautiful courthouse, church, post office and police station.
There were banks, shops, hotels.
Murwillumbah’s historic past is evident in the city’s streetscape, where handsome 19th century and Federation architecture adds a historical flavour to the town.
Look out for the pink Imperial Hotel building.
While the walk may not take long, it’s hard to resist exploring the boutiques and shops selling antiques, curios and collectibles.
3- Take The Murwillumbah Town Centre Heritage Walk
The Murwillumbah Town Centre Heritage Walk is a 1.5km trail that provides an opportunity to learn about the town’s history.
Locations on Main Street and along the Tweed River include Murwillumbah’s first bank (the Commercial Bank of Sydney), established in 1880, the Federation-style courthouse and the site of the first ferry crossing.
4- Have Lunch at Mavis’s Kitchen
At the base of Wollumbin – Mt Warning on a former dairy farm is one of the region’s most popular restaurants.
Set in a traditional Queenslander, Mavis’s Kitchen dishes up hearty country-style cooking prepared with local ingredients and herbs from their organic kitchen garden.
Sit on the verandah and enjoy a beautiful free-range duck or slow-cooked lamb shoulder.
Mavis’s Kitchen is at 64 Mt Warning Rd, Uki. It’s open for breakfast (8.30 to 11 am) and lunch (11 am to 3.30 pm) from Wednesday to Sunday and dinner on Saturday nights only.
A three-course degustation dinner menu on Saturday night costs $65 a head.
5- Drink coffee at the Uki Post Office
The Uki post office is one post office you will want to visit as the small town of Uki is home to Australia’s coolest post office.
More than an ordinary post office, Art Post Uki is a 1909 post office combined with a tiny contemporary gallery and a hip cafe.
Bastion Lane Espresso serves excellent coffee made using a La Marzocco Strada espresso machine, and they roast their coffee beans using a Diedrich coffee roaster.
It’s well worth a stop for a cuppa and to mail postcards to friends and family.
Art Post Uki is at 1464 Kyogle Road, Uki.
6- Visit The Tweed Regional Gallery
The centrepiece of the Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre is an innovative recreation of Margaret Olley’s studio and parts of her Paddington home, complete with her art collection, hat factory, yellow room and green kitchen.
There are displays of flowers, fruit and ceramics that were features of Olley’s house and items that she painted.
Her home was packed up and transported into an exhibition space at the Tweed Regional Gallery, which has 21,000 objects displayed just as Margaret Olley had it laid out in Paddington.
Besides the recreation, the $4 million Margaret Olley Art Centre also houses an artist-in-residence studio.
The galleries in the Tweed Regional Gallery represent innovative artists from the local area from Tweed, Kyogle, Lismore, Byron, Scenic Rim and Gold Coast.
The centre is a must-visit for art lovers and a place you could easily spend the entire day.
Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre is at 2 Mistral Road, South Murwillumbah.
7- Drink Gin At Husk Distillery
A lovely spot for lunch, Husk Distillers has Cellar Door followed by a tour of the distillery.
The distillery is rapidly gaining a reputation for a blue gin that turns pink when mixed with tonic water.
Ink Gin consists of 13 organic botanicals, including Thai butterfly pea flowers (Clitoria ternatea), which is a blue flower from Asia used to colour food and make tea.
Other ingredients are local lemon myrtle leaf, Tasmanian pepper berry, coriander seed and sundried sweet orange peel. Lemon peel, elderflower, angelica root, oris root, cinnamon, cardamom and licorice root add to the complexity of the gin.
Another product at Husk is its Australian Agricole Rum and you should take the distillery tour to learn about the process, from harvesting, cane crushing, extracting the juice, fermenting and bottling.
Harvest season is from is June to November.
Husk Distillers is at 1152 Dulguigan Rd, Tumbulgum.
8- Explore Wollumbin-Mount Warning National Park
The main landmark of World Heritage-listed Wollumbin National Park is what remains of an ancient volcano, Wollumbin – Mount Warning.
The park is culturally significant to the people of the Bundjalung Nation and the mountain is sacred.
For some of the year, this is the first place to see the sunrise on the mainland.
Walk the Lyrebird Track across a creek and through the palm forest to the Gondwana rainforest. The track leads to a lookout from which to watch the sunrise.
9- Go on a restaurant crawl
The Tweed region is a rich patchwork of farms and there are some wonderful restaurants within driving distance of Murwillumbah.
At the top of the list is Good Food Guide’s 2020 Regional Restaurant of the Year, Pipit.
Chef Ben Devlin and his team are passionate about supporting local producers, are ambassadors for the “Good Fish Project” and buy sustainable seafood according to the AMCF Good Fish Guide.
The team is careful to find creative ways to use all products, limit serving hoofed animals and support charitable causes such as OzHarvest.
Order five courses paired with wines.
Pipit Restaurant is at 8 Coronation Avenue, Pottsville.
Johnny Franco’s Place
Tuck into coconut crumbed prawns with pineapple chutney followed by pizza or pasta at American Italian restaurant Johnny Franco’s Place. The comfortable sofas and homely set up is also perfect for a coffee with friends.
Johnny Franco’s Place is at 9 Commercial Road, Murwillumbah.
Kathmandu Kitchen is a Nepalese Tibetan restaurant where everything is handmade, and nothing is frozen or prepared in advance.
The culture in this part of the world is to show gratitude towards everyone who is part of the food chain.
The chef’s speciality is momo dumplings, served with tomato and coriander chutney, Himalayan lamb korma, prepared with secret ingredients of over 20 herbs and spices, and chocolate chilli cake.
Kathmandu Kitchen is at Shop 2, 106 Marine Parade, Kingscliff.
10- See The Graffiti Wall
The Murwillumbah Graffiti Wall is an artistic expression running parallel to the Tweed River and is a work in progress. Take a look at a video of the wall here:
Murwillumbah Markets and Cruises
By Irene Isaacson
11- Murwillumbah market
Slightly out of town you will find the Murwillumbah Showground which houses the Caldera Farmers Market.
One of the best markets for locally grown and organic produce, it is held on the third weekend of the month.
If you happen to be visiting when the market is on, it’s a place you won’t want to miss for fresh goods, many stalls selling rare and unusual salads and vegetables, as well as enjoy live music and meet friendly locals.
Richard, a self-confessed coffee tragic and his locally grown Zeta Coffee is a popular stall, with an expectant queue for most of the morning!
I spotted finger limes, unusual salad greens, okra and colourful dried fruit slices more resembling agate slices than edible fruit.
12- Tweed River Cruise
Book a Tweed River or Rouse River cruise for a relaxing day out on the water.
The Rous River is a perennial tributary of the Tweed River and stretches for 25km, almost as far as the Natural Arch.
It extends down to where it meets the Tweed at the historic riverside town of Tumbulgum.
The name comes from the Aboriginal translation for ‘the meeting of two rivers’ and it’s shallower, narrower and quieter than the Tweed, which makes it easier to spot birdlife.
Tour operators from Mount Warning River Cruises brag about having seen 38 species of birds in a two-hour trip.
Choose a late afternoon cruise for a chance to see more wildlife activity than during the heat of the day.
Leaving a small wooden jetty and crossing the Tweed River, you set off up the Rous and cruise pass an old cemetery built in a rainforest between 1860 and 1930, mangroves and cattle farms.
The old road to Murwillumbah runs alongside a short stretch of the river before leading up to a coffee plantation and wineries.
Spot an eagle’s nest high up on an electricity pylon, home to a mother eagle and her noisy baby, crab pots, spoonbills, pied cormorants, Azure and sacred kingfishers, Brahminy kites and water snakes.
You might also see a termite’s nest high on a tree trunk as the boat cruises past a $180,000 rock wall constructed to combat erosion by a local landowner.
The river passes through forested areas with red and (more rarely) white cedar, hoop pine and bunya pine.
These forests were extensively logged years ago and the logs floated down to Kingscliff for milling.
The local flora encourages the rare Richmond wing butterfly and flora and fauna spotting while drinking wine is a lovely way to spend some time.
Along with a setting sun over Mt Warning in the distance, it’s an incredibly relaxing experience.
Murwillumbah Driving Itineraries
There are some excellent driving tours you can still do even if your holiday weather is inclement and if you don’t want to tackle unsealed roads in the wet, then this one is for you.
Mostly, the roads all sealed and of good quality.
Having limited holiday time left, we decided to try it in the pouring rain with mountain mist and heavy clouds.
While that did hamper our photography somewhat, it was still delightful.
Our starting point was Murwillumbah, the artistic and cultural centre of the Tweed.
Murwillumbah is filled with historic buildings, vintage shops, lovely cafes, paved walkways and relaxing vistas along the Tweed River in Budd Park and Knox Park.
Mount Warning towers over the town in the distance.
As you enter the town with the Tweed River on your right, you will see Budd Park.
With its manicured and landscaped gardens, it makes for a perfect picnic spot on the riverbank, overlooking the huge and highly visible blue Youth Hostel Association (YHA).
In the park is the World Heritage Rainforest Centre (Murwillumbah’s Visitor Information Centre).
This has a wealth of information about the five World Heritage-listed National Parks surrounding Murwillumbah.
Knox Park is a beautiful serene place to rest and relax, with its water lily-filled lake and resident ibis.
Murwillumbah driving itinerary – Tweed Valley Circuit
The Tweed Valley Circuit: Murwillumbah-Eungella-Tyalgun-Chillingham-Crystal Creek-Uki-Murwillumbah.
Hare Krishna Centre at Eungella
Going clockwise, our next stop was Eungella, home to New Govardhana, a Hare Krishna Farm and Eco Yoga Community and Wellness Centre.
One of their most significant rural projects in Australia, this local community puts on a renown vegetarian feast on Sundays.
But as we did a drive-by, we had to reverse to double-check the line-up of at least 20 large refuse bins for council collection that day.
Each one was placed meticulously along the roadside.
The distance in between each was exact and symmetrical, and not one was an inch out of place.
The rain became torrential, making photography almost impossible, even from the car window, so we moved on and discovered Tyalgum.
Tyalgum is a gorgeous little village in the heart of the Wollumbin or Mt Warning caldera.
This 1850s logging town is now a historic small village full of quaint, beautifully restored buildings transformed into shops, cafes and art galleries.
The ladies running Flutterbies Cottage and The Little Shop Next Door dress in historic costumes adding to the atmosphere.
Much of the organic produce, goods and art here is locally made or homegrown.
As you enter the town, you will see the historic Tyalgum Hotel, dating back to 1926.
It is very popular with music groups all over the country and holds the popular annual three-day Tyalgum Music Festival in September each year.
Many of the commercial buildings have been beautifully restored to house attractive small businesses.
The famous Tyalgum Community Hall is reputed to be one of the most acoustically sound buildings in Australia, no mean feat since it was built in 1908.
Mount Warning lookout at Limpinwood
Our next stop was at a lookout over Mount Warning at Limpinwood, on the edge of Limpinwood Reserve.
Again, the weather got the better of us and the view was completely clouded out.
We drove into Chillingham with the river already starting to flood.
The reputed Bush Tucker attraction was rained out, so we opted to drop into The Old Butcher’s Shop Gallery.
John Gillson, the in house potter had already left the building, apparently gone fishing!
His father Earl was capably holding the fort while he espoused a wealth of information about the century-old building.
John’s pottery and porcelain ceramics were unique, and we couldn’t resist buying a few pieces to take home.
Not to be confused with Crystal Castle near Byron Bay, Crystal Creek Miniatures was our last point of interest.
However, we had missed Carolyn and John Tebbutt’s 1030am tour of their miniature animal farm.
By now another torrential downpour had started, so we elected to come back another day to see their family of small horses, cattle, mules and donkeys.
We were left wondering whether it was the heavy annual rain quota in the region that naturally shrunk the animals to create this particular attraction.
The Sunday market in Uki is held on the site of the old Buttery Factory.
We were greeted by a host of banner-carrying environmentally sensitive ‘Uki-ites’ protesting possible loss of local habitat affecting koala numbers due to suspect council proposals.
But we found the market stallholders were extremely friendly and welcoming talented characters who entertained us throughout the market.
Laurie greeted me with open arms (and amazing nails) when I bought a $5 feathered catnip toy for our cat.
Her lifelong dream was to own a Sphynx cat and a hairless crested dog.
Well, she almost expired in excitement as I showed her photos of our Sphynx, MissyB, and our two Chinese Crested dogs Hera and Errol Flynn.
We were instantly bonded – friends for life!
I spotted some fantastic postcards of local landscapes, which on close inspection were Aboriginal-like dot paintings.
Chris, the artist, effusively told us the story behind his artworks.
Some were 3D, which he sold as sets complete with cardboard 3D glasses.
We breakfasted at the lovely Uki Café directly opposite.
Team Uki made us feel at home and served up gluten-free rice and pumpkin bread with fresh smashed avocado and ‘gooey’ poached eggs, washed down with Merlo cappuccinos. Nice.
Murwillumbah driving itinerary – the coast
Murwillumbah to Cabarita Beach: Murwillumbah-Madura Tea Estate-Tropical Fruit World-Cabarita Beach
Madura Tea Estate
A visit to Madura Tea is an educational experience where you will learn all about the tea making process.
From growing tea bushes to processing tea leaves, this tea-growing estate is a unique attraction near Murwillumbah.
Tropical Fruit World is a tourist attraction where you can taste all kinds of exotic tropical fruit. It’s worth spending a few hours eating dragon fruit, jackfruit and star fruit.
There’s also a mini-train for the kids and Treasure Island attraction.
It’s a 20-minute drive from Murwillumbah and a shorter distance to Cabarita Beach.
Cabarita Beach (or Caba), also known as Bogangar Village, grew in the early 1960s as a popular surfing and holiday spot on the Tweed Coast.
The Aboriginal Goodjinbura clan were the original custodians of the Tweed Coast, which is a stunning coastal region in New South Wales just across the border from Queensland.
A large midden remains near Norries Headland as evidence to their existence before the arrival of the white man.
Stone tool-making sites are also found at Norries and Hastings Point. Fingal and Pottsville claim Aboriginal ceremonial sites too.
These days, Cabarita Beach is one of the top tourist destinations in Northern New South Wales and only a short drive from Murwillumbah.
It is 15 minutes from the NSW/QLD border and a five-minute drive to the main motorway that runs along Australia’s east coast.
This makes it very accessible, yet, Cabarita Beach has a quaintness about it and is relatively unspoilt.
Northern New South Wales can lay claim to some of the most beautiful headlands and long sandy beaches.
Cabarita is undoubtedly one of those.
From Norries Headland you can see far north to the beaches and skyscrapers of the Gold Coast.
Look south and you will find Hastings Point and Pottsville, both are about 15 minutes away.
The headlands are lovely examples of Littoral Forests and can be accessed by short bushwalks and fabulous boardwalks.
From Cabarita Surf Life Saving Club, on the beach, it’s a short walk up Cabarita Hill.
I think this hill should be called Dragon Hill as we counted no less than 10 Eastern Water Dragons while walking up the hill.
One dragon wouldn’t move off his patch on one of the steps, even when we were within a foot of it.
The dragon was so relaxed and confident it reminded me of the ones in the Galapagos Islands.
Head north and you will reach Lamington National Park, which is a beautiful park home to the famous Binna Burra, and Springbrook National Park with the stunning Natural Arch.
All this is just across the border in Queensland, where there is a one-hour time difference.
If you’re on a road trip, you can quickly drive across the border to check out these things to do in Queensland.
There are several excellent cafes and eateries such as the local fish and chip shop, The Stunned Mullet, is remarkable.
For more things to do in NSW read:
Day trips from Murwillumbah
Border Ranges National Park
We discovered a hidden secret, the Border Ranges Circuit.
This exceptionally scenic 2WD drive through luscious rainforests is along the high rim of an ancient volcanic caldera in the Border Ranges National Park.
In the centre of the Wollumbin caldera is the beautiful and stunning Mt Warning.
The rainforest is World Heritage-listed, featuring 2000-year-old Antarctic Beech forests, rare Helmholtsia lilies, a 48m red cedar giant tree and numerous bushwalking tracks.
Stunning lookouts over the Tweed Valley include Blackbutt and The Pinnacle lookouts.
We headed southwest down the road to the turnoff to the National Park.
The road from there was unsealed, for around 50km.
The worst sections were outside the park, but we still managed it in our low-clearance Veloster sports car.
The road in the park was slightly better, having been recently graded.
However, with no significant rainfall in the area, my reasonably new car was soon covered in a thick layer of dust!
Our first stop was Bar Mountain were we walked the 750m short Falcorostrum loop.
Towering huge old beech trees dominated here, bestrewn with lichen, fungi and moss.
The ground was moist and damp, a great climate for leeches.
Our walk was brisk with regular stops for body checks to ensure there were no bloodsuckers on board.
A short way up the road, we arrived at Blackbutts lookout and picnic grounds.
Impressive views of Mt Warning and the Tweed Valley allowed me to practice my panoramic photography on my smartphone.
The Pinnacle Lookout
The short 200m walk to the Pinnacle Lookout was through sub-tropical rainforest, luscious green grass trees and onto a sturdy boardwalk.
Then, oh my god, the views were truly spectacular.
Virtually the whole caldera rim was visible with Mt Warning in the centre and Blackbutt ridge to our right.
My recently learned panoramic photography skills came in handy as we took in the fantastic 180-degree vista.
Mt Warning’s unique stalagmite appearance stood out in the distance.
This was undoubtedly the highlight of the day.
We continued our anti-clockwise circuit drive, only to discover that two more stops on the most northern section of the circuit were best accessed by driving clockwise not anti-clockwise, as we had done.
This part of the road was one way only, and after 25km of slow, bumpy driving, we decided to give them a miss and continue round to Kyogle.
Kyogle, a small service town outside the National Park was closed as it was 3 pm on a Sunday.
We had a chuckle at the banner in the main street saying “Come for a day, stay for a lifetime” but one of Kyogle’s redeeming attributes was it had been voted Tidy Town 2012.
So we proceeded along the circuit back to Murwillumbah, past Wadeville General Store and the famous Hanging Rock Falls swimming hole.
Tired as we were after a long day’s drive, we just had to stop off at the Sphinx Rock Café in Mt Burrell. What a find it was!
It’s a relaxing quirky roadside café with a great menu, fresh juices and fabulous homemade food.
I gulped a carrot-celery-cucumber-ginger-turmeric juice to wash down a halloumi pea fritter rocket salad stack with sweet chilli sauce.
My girlfriend tried a Cajun fish and feta salad, which was moist and deliciously filling.
Thoroughly exhausted after a great day walking and eating our way around the Border Ranges, we reversed out of the car park, avoiding the brightly painted potholes and drove the remaining 60km home.
This was a truly memorable experience and not one to be missed if you are ever in the beautiful Tweed Valley area.
While in the region, keep heading south to visit Crystal Castle in Byron Bay where a day of magic and mystery awaits.
The lovely gardens, crystals, statues and positive vibes to nourish your soul.
25- Drive across the border to Queensland
Head north and you will reach Lamington National Park, which is a beautiful park home to the famous Binna Burra, and Springbrook National Park with the stunning Natural Arch.
The Gold Coast is less than an hour’s drive away and can certainly be visited as a day trip from Murwillumbah.
All this is just across the border in Queensland, which has a one-hour time difference.
By Christina Pfeiffer
Mount Warning Estate
Enjoy sunset drinks around a fire pit as you watch the sunset over Wollumbin Mount Warning. Mount Warning Estate is a well-appointed luxurious one-bedroom cabin equipped with contemporary furnishings and appliances, with touches of history blended into the interior design.
A contemporary two-bedroom glass and steel design overlooking Wirui estate coffee plantation, with views of the Pacific Ocean and Gold Coast hinterland. This accommodation suits two couples.
Wirui Estate is a small estate producing one of Australia’s best single-origin coffees and you can learn how coffee is grown and produced.
Zeta’s Coffee is at 113 Blissetts Road, Carool.
A historic homestead in Uki, Chesson Lodge is on the main street within walking distance of cafes and shops. The house has four bedrooms and would suit a family.
Six two-storey chalets among the trees offer an escape with valley views. Chalets have balconies and spa baths.
ecOasis Resort is at 55 Tatyewan Street Smiths Creek, Uki.
Families looking for a coastal break might like to book one of the massive apartments at Caba Break, which come in four and two-bedroom configurations.
Caba Break is at 49 Tweed Coast Road, Cabarita Beach.