NSW Weekender: Where To Eat, Stay And Play In The Tweed
The Tweed is the jewel of far northern New South Wales; an under-the-radar gem of misty mountains and emerald rainforest, of sapphire beaches and sleepy cane-growing villages.
Though it’s long played second fiddle to the nearby Gold Coast, the Tweed is at last coming into its own with a host of glamorous hotels, hatted restaurants, and the emergence of a paddock-to-plate scene that would make even the likes of chef Matt Moran swoon.
Best of all, it’s only a few minutes south of the Gold Coast airport.
Where to go
The Tweed is a region built on the sugar cane and dairy industries, with its cane-growing roots dating back to the late 1800s. As you cross the border from Queensland, urban sprawl quickly gives way to lush farmland and cane fields stretching towards the horizon and forested escarpments of the Wollumbin (Mount Warning) caldera.
A great place to witness this living cane heritage is the brand new Husk Distillers cellar door in Tumbulgum. Makers of Australia’s only paddock-to-bottle rum, as well as the Insta-favourite Ink Gin, Husk are one of the rising stars of the Australian spirit scene.
Unlike other Australian rums made using the molasses by-product of sugar refining, Husk produce French-style Agricole rum from fresh cane juice. This results in a smoother, sipping-style rum. You can enjoy a taste of their award-winning rums at the cellar door, as well as delve deeper into their paddock-to-bottle offering on a tour of their new distillery.
After touring the distillery, an exploration of the wider region is in order. Designed to showcase the fantastic farms and producers of the Tweed, Tasting Plate Tours offers expertly curated small-group tours to the star players of the region, as well as some little-known local secrets, helping you discover people and stories behind the produce.
If you’d rather skip the touring and go straight to the feast, Blue Ginger Picnics may be more your style. Set up wherever you choose, their beautifully styled picnics feature an array of local meats, baked goods and gourmet produce, bringing a touch of luxe to your travels.
Where to dine
One of the greatest things about rural living is the ability to grow your own produce, to shop at farmers markets and understand exactly where the food comes on your plate comes from. Potager – A Kitchen Garden is the embodiment of this home-grown philosophy.
Set on a small 10-acre farm in the north-east of the Tweed Shire, this intimate 30-seater restaurant is the creation of Peter Burr and Gareth Leslie, who swapped city living for a more grounded way of life – and growth.
Potager’s onsite gardens fuel and inspire their regularly changing menus, and it’s not uncommon to see the kitchen team picking ingredients before and during service. While they don’t grow everything they serve on site, they do serve everything they grow, with the remainder sourced from local farmers and other independently-owned businesses.
Greek eatery Taverna takes a similar locally-sourced approach, but with a much greater focus on seafood – thanks in no small part to its gorgeous seaside setting in Kingscliff.
The beautiful all-white interiors of the restaurant evoke feelings of the islands of Mykonos and Santorini, with the Greek infused menu a masterclass in simple, sophisticated flavours.
Continuing the fresh seafood theme is Fins at nearby Salt – one of the region’s most highly awarded restaurants, with not one but 22 consecutive Good Food Guide chef hat awards.
Owner and head chef Steven Snow’s passion for organic produce and sustainably caught seafood, as well as his willingness to embrace diverse Asian flavours and cooking styles in his menus, have been key to the restaurant’s success. The wine list is exceptional too.
Where to stay
The Tweed Shire is too big and too diverse to fully experience and appreciate in one day, so make a weekend of it at one of the ultra-luxurious properties in the area.
Set on an enchanting 50-acre property only minutes away from bohemian Murwillumbah, Mistere at Urliup is a serene bushland retreat featuring three gorgeous villas – Waterfall, Fountain View, or Mountain View – each offering a completely different experience.
Curl up in front the wood fireplace, laze in the bathtub soaking up the view with an Ink Gin and tonic in hand or set out to explore the retreat’s extensive forest trails, dotted with unique sculptures.
If the sound of sea is calling your name, Halcyon House, a five-star boutique hotel recently named among the world’s best in Conde Nast Traveler’s Gold List for 2019, is for you.
Bringing a taste of Palm Springs style to sleepy Cabarita, each of its ultra-glamorous rooms and suites feature eclectic furnishings, courtesy of designer Anna Spiro’s signature style.
Halcyon House is also home to the multi-award-winning restaurant Paper Daisy, a culinary marvel helmed by Executive Chef Jason Barratt, as well as the indulgent Halcyon Spa.
If you have a craving only a weekend away can fix, the Tweed is a region worth biting into.
(Lead image: Halycon House / supplied)
Published 31 July, 2019