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As part of the Northern Rivers Food Harvest Festival, I was lucky enough to grab some tickets to do a Tweed River Sunset Cruise. The Mount Warning Tours Cloudcatcher Sunset Wood Fired Pizza Cruise departed from the Tweed Valley riverside town of Tumbulgum in the late afternoon. What was so special about this stunning three hour cruise on the Tweed River, was that we caught the brilliant sunset over majestic Mount Warning.
The Cloudcatcher Sunset Wood Fired Pizza Cruise included delicious wood-fired pizzas, embracing local Tweed produce, from the House of Gabriel at Tumbulgum, accompanied by Stone & Wood beers and wine. A full commentary was provided during the cruise where we learnt a lot about the history of the Tweed River and its tributary, the Rous River, the wildlife habitats and birdlife that are prolific along the river, the sugar cane industry, timber cutting in the region and agriculture that once thrived here in the Tweed Valley.
But let me tell you a little about this stunning region in Northern New South Wales. The Tweed Valley is described as being a natural wonder, alongside the Daintree and Kakadu, and is one of the three most bio-diverse regions in Australia. Formed millions of years ago by a large shield volcano, the crowning glory of the region is Wollumbin or Mount Warning, that dominates the landscape. Mount Warning offers an epic climbing experience and is renowned for being the first place to see the sun on the east coast of Australia.
Murwillumbah is the central town of the valley, servicing the region. But not far away are the quiet and charming country villages, like Tyalgum, Uki, Burringbar and Tumbulgum, showcasing old historic river ports and quaint villages. All of this is within a short driving distance to where I live in Kingscliff on the Tweed Coast. So I really do get the best of both worlds – the lush green valley and meandering rivers in the hinterland, plus the superb beaches along the unspoilt coast.
There are a couple of different options when deciding upon a Tweed River Cruise.
Our sunset cruise departed the wharf at Tumbulgum at around 4.30pm and we immediately took a right hand turn down the Rous River, where we observed the resident Ospreys hovering aloft and elegant Blue Cranes dancing on the shoreline.
Beautiful Wollumbin Mount Warning, the heart of an ancient volcano, is seen from every vantage point on the boat along the Tweed Valley waterways. As we glided slowly through lush rainforest we viewed some of the Tweed Valley’s unique landscapes, local producers, distilleries and organic farms.
We learnt about a new distillery called Husk, situated on the banks of the Tweed River at Tumbulgum. The distillery is set on 150 acres of farmland with the coastline to the east and the Gondwana Rainforest to the west. Husk distills Agricole rum that is made from freshly crushed sugar cane juice, instead of molasses. It is the only paddock to bottle rum distillery in Australia, as they grow 100% of the sugar cane used to make the rum right there on the farm.
The food and drink was laid on! (Not that we had much time to eat or drink, because the scenery was truly too spectacular to miss!) Alongside delicious wood-fired pizzas topped with fresh local produce, there were mouth-watering grazing platters of cheese, creamy dips, ham, salami, olives, fresh fruit, nuts and crackers. The beer was the local brew, aptly named Stone & Wood Cloud Catcher and the wine was equally as drinkable.
Once we turned around and re-entered the Tweed River, we cruised through the rainforested areas of the river and started to see some colour from the impending sunset. The sunset glow changed from golden yellow to orange, to red and then deep purple. With the iconic Mount Warning as our backdrop, this sunset was one of the most jaw-droppingly beautiful ones that I’ve ever witnessed!
It was difficult to beat this incredible spectacle, but as the the skies darkened we managed to cruise back along the river towards the next Tweed River village called Condong. There were some beautiful mirror reflections on the river as night fell.
We came to a large factory-type building on the riverside that was lit up like Luna Park. We learnt that this was the Condong Sugar Mill that has been crushing the locally grown and harvested sugar cane since 1880. The Mill operates under continuous crushing arrangements (24 hours a day, seven days a week) and there is 185 tonnes of sugar cane crushed per hour.
We did a u-turn here and headed back to Tumbulgum and the completion of our Tweed River Cruise. The 3 hour cruise was over just like that! But what a fantastic way to see and learn about this interesting region, witness the superb sunset over Mount Warning and see nature at its very best.
Tumbulgum is located 21 kilometres south of the New South Wales and Queensland border in the Tweed Valley. From the Pacific Motorway take at left turn near Kingscliff into the Tweed Valley Way. Take a right into Leddays Creek Road and the village of Tumbulgum.
Arrive early and take a stroll around this historical port town located on the banks of the Tweed River. The town boasts riverside picnic facilities, boat hire, a public wharf and boat ramp, heritage shop fronts and make time to enjoy one of the popular lunches and evening meals at the Tumbulgum Tavern. Browse for gifts and souvenirs at the local arts and crafts gallery or antique shop and visit the historic Tumbulgum Cemetry, the first in the Tweed Valley. Or partake in High Tea at the historical riverside cottage of House of Gabriel.
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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