Tweed Shire: Cabarita Beach is Australia’s best brand

A northern New South Wales beach neglected by travelers for years has been named number one in the country – with the entire region quickly becoming popular.

As a teenager growing up in the Byron hinterland, the Tweed Shire was nothing more than a monotony of green separating me from the excitement of the Gold Coast malls. Long before the M1 upgrade began, the seemingly endless, winding road through iridescent cane fields and frayed beach scrub ribbons probably saved me from a lot of questionable ’90s fashion buys.

It also saved the Tweed from premature exposure to holiday hunters. Perpetually ignored for the benefit of its more flashy neighbors, it has quietly been able to develop its potential between these two tourist hot spots of Byron Bay and the Gold Coast.

As they were overcrowded with spending families, wedding parties, and resident celebrities, the Tweed timidly flourished. Preferring that its trailer parks be occupied by sandy children and licking the Paddle-Pop on bikes and their stocky parents who run a cooler.

Stretching over enviable beaches and skirting the River Tweed through sugarcane fields, valleys and ridges to the peaks of Mt Warning-Wollumbin, the Tweed Shire is a coastal haven with back pockets. Lush country, tranquil beaches and a relaxed, refreshing pace.

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Of course, the location of this property does not remain secret for long. The low-key, low-key cold of the Tweed couldn’t disguise her stunning beauty with her “nothing like here” attitude forever.

My slaps on the forehead “of course! Time came in 2015 when I visited for the opening of Halcyon House.

Freeing a run-down old surf motel with polished Capri-esque flair, savvy hoteliers dropped the first pin on the Tweed, revealing this beauty under the radar. It didn’t take long for those red beacons to spread across Google Maps like a teenage escape.

Now, there are an ever-growing number of amazing experiences to tap into here, from accommodations to great meals and nature trips.

Indeed, last year Cabarita Beach was named the best in Australia. Supported by a grassy promontory bordered by planks with shallows conducive to frolics and crystalline waves, it is a worthy opponent of the famous Wategos de Byron.

“We can claim that on Byron!” Says local Ben Devlin of the award. The remarkable chef grew up in the region, but left to pursue a career in Brisbane and beyond, even spending two years at the famous Noma in Copenhagen. He first returned for a six-month contract as executive chef at Halcyon House’s impeccable restaurant, Paper Daisy.

Five years later, he still hasn’t retreated north, but instead stayed to establish his own restaurant, Pipit, in small Pottsville Beach.

A chic, provenance-focused restaurant that Ben opened with his wife Yen, Pipit showcases the region’s best produce, from seafood to tropical fruit. He says that despite the Tweed’s growing popularity, part of the appeal is that it still feels like a hidden gem.

“Rather than just one main center, it’s more dispersed,” he says.

“There’s more room to breathe with a network of seaside towns, such as the Kingscliff, Cabarita, Hastings and Pottsville stretch, all with their own identities but still a collective group.”

Ben’s hyper-local approach to Paper Daisy, and now Pipit, has no doubt inspired many restaurateurs and diners to view Tweed as a destination that appreciates a thoughtful menu.

From casual eateries such as Lolita’s Cantina and Osteria in Casuarina to fine dining restaurant Fins in Kingscliff and the recent colonial breeze hailed openings Tweed River House in Murwillumbah, and the Italian-accented Cabarita diner No 35 Kitchen and Bar, the movement of good food is clearly on the rise.

Not to mention the city’s worthy cafes that reclaim what has always been extra-hot mugachino territory. And then there are the new generation growers who take full advantage of the fertile soils of the Tweed Caldera.

Drive inland to the elegant door of the Husk Distillers winery in Tumbulgum for lunch on the lawn and try their iridescent Ink Gin and spiced rum and you will begin to grasp the enormous barely tapped potential of the area. region.

But people quickly get it, slapping their foreheads as they realize they could have vacationed here from the start.

To make up for lost time, you’ll find them at Cudgen’s Earth Brewery for aperitifs, where this low-impact, community-driven business involves collaborating with local suppliers and using what’s available to brew its beers.

And also in Cudgen, those who once rejected Tweed (including me) can be found at the bucolic Farm & Co, enjoying a coffee, picking sunflowers and meeting a vegan pig.

Attracting day trippers south of the Gold Coast and Brisbane and even north of Byron, a restaurant-spoiled district, the food scene is undeniably on the rise, but that’s not the only reason people are thrilled. of their new discovery of Tweed. Its mountain-to-sea beauty makes it a region of breathtaking natural assets and there is still that intangible element here that neighboring counties have long lost – it’s quiet.

Local photographer Vanessa Brown loves crowded beaches and the afternoon light of the backcountry. After spending over a decade in Sydney as a medical researcher, Vanessa returned to The Tweed 13 years ago.

Returning to Cabarita with her husband and three children, she soon discovered not only a renewed love for the region, but also a passion for photography. His stunning drone shots of the Tweed unfold a landscape of crystal-clear waters encroaching on sea-bitten cliffs and the uniform mess of coastal bush dissected by white sand paths.

Her friends in town have lamented her move, but Vanessa doesn’t regret her drastic change. Even though finding parking on this now famous beach is a bit more difficult these days.

“When we first moved, there wasn’t even a cafe in Cabarita. You had to get in the car and drive pretty much everything, ”she says of the change triggered by the new wave of tourism.

“But even now I’m going to walk the dog on the beach and I won’t see anyone.” It’s still not as discovered, ”she said.

For Devlin, it was never a question of whether the Tweed would be discovered.

“When one place becomes too popular or expensive, you see the ripple effect in neighboring areas. Cities outside Byron are feeling it. But it’s not competitive here; he feels more collaborative and that will be his strength, ”he says.

It already feels like the region has learned a thing or two about sustaining tourism from these mature vacation hot spots to the north and south.

The Tweed is in no rush to change its barefoot, friendly holiday vibe, despite its undeniable new swagger. Funny how time changes perceptions.

Everything I found sad about this county in my youth – the endless green and calm beaches, the surfside take-out restaurants with sun-faded ice panels – I’m savoring them now.

So come and enjoy this hot spot for its new spit and polish, but also come enjoy it for being exactly what its neighboring counties are not.

The best accommodations on the Tweed Coast

Hidden camp: Glamp in an elegant tent by the beach.

Original house: This stylish backcountry house is located on a working coffee plantation.

Halcyon House: The ultra-hip hotel that helped put Tweed on the radar.

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