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Never underestimate the benefits of a weekend away or a mini-break. Where I live on the Gold Coast in Queensland I am blessed with an endless selection of pretty little places within an hour or two drive away. They say a change of scenery can do you a world of good and a Brunswick Heads break was just what the doctor ordered.
Normally we would be packing up after Christmas for a small break away, however this year we found ourselves in need of a bit of R & R prior to the rush of the festive season. Only an hour drive south from us is the lovely little coastal and riverside village of Brunswick Heads on the far north coast of NSW. It is a place we have visited on many occasions over the years and always enjoyed its laid-back vibe and peaceful ambience.
In Brunswick you will find no resorts or high rises; no double lane roads; no traffic jams; no large shopping mall; and not too many tourists, despite the fact that is boasts 3 caravan parks and numerous holiday rentals. I guess this is what lures me back to this tiny coastal village time after time with its 1940s buildings and vintage feel. Although it has added more trendy cafes, fine food eateries and boutique style shops over the past few years, it still remains relatively untouched.
What you can find though is a grand old pub, retro-style with a large sprawling beer garden set under fiery red blooming Poinciana trees with good pub grub and live music every weekend. It is a popular place for motor cyclists and Sunday drivers on the weekends for a cold beer and a spot of lunch.
A fishermen’s co-op where you can purchase your seafood straight from the fishing trawlers or select your piece of fish and have it cooked to eat at the tables and chairs located outside overlooking the marina.
A fine selection of trendy cafes serving up a nice coffee brew, healthy vegan type cafes and a few restaurants using fresh locally grown produce.
A couple of stylish boutiques – Mimi & Flo, Oh My Goddess and Lazybones to name a few, a killer shoe shop called Peligucci with the best leather shoes, a good old bakery with tasty pies and cakes, a liquor shop and a small supermarket.
For such a small town there are many caravan parks – three in fact, all located on the river or creek. Over the years we have stayed at all three: Terrace Reserve, Ferry Reserve and Massey Greene Caravan Parks. Ferry Reserve is a dog-friendly park and is where we stayed for our weekend.
It is located right on the Brunswick River set against the backdrop of Mt Chincogan and is an easy 15 minute walk into town. This park is a haven for boaties, fishermen, kayakers and standup paddle boarders with its easy access to the river.
The walk into town is particularly lovely with a boardwalk section over the mangroves fringing the river, via natural bushland and passing by the Fishermen’s Co-op and Marina.
There are extensive green grassy parklands, picnic areas, a lovely sandy little cove and a large pavilion by the river near the town centre. The Brunswick River branches off into a tributary called Simpsons Creek that is very popular with young families for all types of water activities and was so crystal clear that we could see hundreds of fish in the waters.
The old rickety timber bridge crosses the creek in town and takes you over to the breakwater and surf beach where there is a Surf Club and patrolled beach. There is another refurbished timber footbridge south of the old bridge that gives you direct access to the beach from Terrace Reserve Caravan Park.
We heard that the beach, just north of Brunswick Heads and only a short driving distance away, at Ocean Shores was dog-friendly so we set off on the second day with our puppy to give her a run on the sand. Words cannot describe how beautiful this beach was, with the dog-friendly area stretching for at least a kilometre and with very few people or other dogs, we felt as though we had the entire beach to ourselves.
The water on the golden sand was shimmering in the morning sun and being at low tide there were little pools of shallow water along the beach that our puppy loved jumping into. She had an absolute ball!
Ocean Shores is a relatively new development to the north of Brunswick Heads that has grown into a close and well-serviced community, and is a mixture of retirees enjoying the sun and quiet lifestyle and young families looking for a great place to raise their kids. There is a small shopping centre, a couple of cafes and for the golfers the Ocean Shores Country Club that is a renowned championship golf course set in an area of natural flora with tidal lakes, rivers and mountain ranges as a backdrop.
If you don’t have your own watercraft to explore the Brunswick River there is a canoe and kayak hire place in town where you can also hire tinnies to try a bit of fishing on the river. Otherwise you can do a kayaking or standup paddleboarding eco tour of the river. Morning and sunset cruises are also available with a local boat cruise company from the marina.
The Brunswick river front markets occur every first Saturday of the month, with a wide selection art and craft, local produce and trash and treasure. When the markets aren’t on you can fossick for treasures at one of the many secondhand shops in town, such as Clem’s Cargo, Sentimental Treasures and Resould.
The ever-popular Byron Bay is only a 15 minute drive south of Brunswick Heads and although I adore Byron, I’m now finding it to be too busy and hectic for my liking. To me Brunswick is what Byron was like back in the 1980s, but on a smaller scale and I guess that this is what I love about the place. A miniature Byron minus the Lighthouse but without the congested traffic hassles or parking problems and certainly on a par as far as gorgeous coastal and river scenery goes, plus enough shops and eateries to make it interesting.
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Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 6 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now in her early 60s. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Tweed Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Kathy enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, photography, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.
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