Tweed Heads and Coolangatta are twin towns located on the border between north-eastern New South Wales and south-eastern Queensland. Coolangatta is in Queensland and a suburb of the Gold Coast. Tweed Heads is not administratively part of the city, but it effectively forms its southern suburb, although part of the Tweed Shire, the offices of which are in Murwillumbah.
When you cross the wide Tweed River from the south, you remain in New South Wales for around 5 kilometres before passing into Queensland. The border is in the built up retail area near the mouth of the river.
Where is the border?
Coolangatta is pronounced with the emphasis on the last syllable, like regatta, and unlike Talangatta.
Buses run from Brisbane and points south. The train service from Brisbane to Robina, central Gold Coast, has bus connections through to Coolangatta and Tweed Heads.
It is a comfortable 65 minutes drive from Brisbane on the Pacific Motorway. One can exit just after the Brisbane airport to hit the coast near Kirra for the short coastal drive through Coolangatta to Tweed Heads.
Surfside buses, run from Tweed Heads frequently northwards towards Coolangatta and Surfers Paradise. Frequent busses (routes 601 to 608) also operate to Kingscliff, West Tweed and Banora Point. The bus to Murwillumbah (route 605) operates hourly on weekdays (every 2 hours on weekends), it is a particularly scenic local bus route. Route 603 runs to Bogangar and Pottsville hourly every day and provides access to less developed and uncrowded beaches to the south.
Coolangatta and Tweed Heads are easily accessible from the Pacific Hwy. The highway now bypasses the whole area making the local roads much less congested. Some back streets between Coolangatta and Tweed Heads and in Currumbin are quite steep.
See the Gold Coast article for a list of car rental companies.
- Tropical Fruit World. An educational park where tropical fruit is grown for experiments, viewing and tasting. Home of the Big Avocado.
- Tweed Heads Visitor Information Centre (Tweed Tourism Inc), 7/1 Wharf Street, Tweed Heads, ☎ +61 7 5536 6737, . Providing tourism information for the Tweed region. Maps, posters and souvenirs. Accommodation, tour and cruise booking service. Open 7 days. http://www.tweedtourism.com.au or Ph: 1800 674 414 (within Australia only)
- Scuba Diving There are several scuba dive companies using Cook Island as their dive location. Cook island is the small island first mentioned by James Cook when he named Point Danger and Mt. Warning in 1770, about 2km offshore. The volcanic rookery island is in unprotected water and intending divers should be aware that this is no barrier reef experience, but the reefs offer interesting diving and the waters are prolific with turtles.
- Bush Walking The Tweed Shire encompasses the catchment of the Tweed River, which drains the southern slopes of the MacPherson Range, known as the Border Ranges in NSW. There are many inspiring hikes in these ranges, but most require navigation experience in rain forest, and the correct equipment for the time of year. However there are several opportunities for the visitor to taste the bushwalking opportunities. Mt Warning has been dealt with in the "Get Out" section below, and is highly recommended for the hiker who likes the surety of National Park signs and maintained paths. Mt Cougal is the twin peaked feature evident from the coast, standing in front of the larger mountainous area behind, the Springbrook Plateau. The walk to Mt Cougal is unmarked, but the following simple instructions will get you there from the Tweed Shire. Drive to Tumblegum on the Tweed River, crossing the river to the north side at the bridge over the Tweed just south of the township. Follow the signs to Murwillumbah along Dulguigan Rd until Tomewin Rd, turn right to the north. This road climbs to the border crossing at the watershed at Tomewin, but near the top of the climb take the turn left on Garden of Eden Road. Follow this to the end and the border fence, and park your car. Now on foot, follow the border fence, a combination stock and rabbit exclusion fence, west, leading to the base of the cliffs on East Cougal. There is a rough scramble to the summit of East Cougal, from where views can be had. The scramble across to the top of West Cougal is an option, but remember you are in steep country. Pay attention to where you go, because you have to come back this way to get back to the fence for the retun journey. From Tomewin you can drive into the Currumbin valley and then west for a swim at the Currumbin rock pool, a large deep stream fed popular pool. Further up this valley, 1km from the end of the road is the Currumbin Rock Slide for the brave. Wagawn is a mountain accessed by taking Queensland Road out of Murwillumbah, and turning left into Numinbah Rd, should be well sign posted. Follow on to the Queensland border, and on the other side of the border gate turn hard left on a dirt road and park. The border fence is a sturdy fence on the top of the ridge and so you follow this in a large arc toward to the obvious mountain to the west; this is Wagawn. The fence terminates at the cliffs so then you follow the well worn path to the right which enters the section called the Bushrangers Cave, a large eroded overhang with sometimes a trickle of water dropping from above. To ascend the mountain above, continue on until a cliff break and it is possible to climb up through the trees and rocks. This is slippery and steep. Pay heed to the way you come, because many parties become uncertain of the track on descent, and end up in steeper circumstances than they wish. There may be some tape on the trees that will help. The track contours to the left high above the cave below, ascending all the time until the border ridge is again attained. Continue up this ridge until it flattens out and you are pretty much at the top and on the National Park track system linking Binna Burra Lodge with O'Reilleys Lodge. Nice place for lunch before the return for a total time 3-4 hours plus stops. Now it occurs that backpackers could arrange to be dropped off at the border gate with their gear and continue on to either of the two mentioned lodges, about 11 km further, where camping and accommodation is available, and transport back to the Gold Coast. This would be an interesting way to get a feel for the Lamington National Park.
- Centro Tweed Heads (Tweed Mall), Cnr. Wharf & Bay Streets, Tweed Heads, NSW, 2485, . Contains small speciality shops together with larger well-known retailers like Target, Coles and Woolworths.
- Coolangatta / Kirra Beach YHA www.yha.com.au Adjacent to some of the best beaches in Australia, great hostel with pool, BBQ area, games room.
- Fingal Head Fingal is actually just across the Tweed River from Tweed Heads, but you must travel south on the Pacific Highway past Sextons Hill and after the motorway crosses the river take the left exit and follow the signs. There are many kms of isolated and beatuful beaches to enjoy. It features as it's centrepoint Fingal Head, a volcanic rock headland originally named Point Danger by James Cook in 1770. Subsequently the headland north of the tweed River Mouth was incorrectly named Point Danger, so if you have a fetish for Cook's place names on the East Coast of Australia, this is the Point Danger you must visit. The name Fingal was chosen because of the hexagonal columns of volcanic rock. These were originally a lava finger from the shield volcano, the plug of which is Mount Warning, also named by Cook. Similar rock formations exist in Northern Ireland at Fingal, thus the name. A prominent rock formation off the point is accessed by a small surf affected causeway, and this is named Giants Causway, also with Northern Irish connections. The surf beach on the northern side is patrolled in summer holidays and weekends. Foreign visitors should remember that inexperience in the surf can lead to trouble, so even if there are others body surfing, it is not a sign that the conditions are benign. In other words, stick to the patrolled beaches. There is a very loyal board surfer fraternity usually finding a wave on the south side of the headland. The camping ground at the main beach offers demountables, van and tent sites. The nearest pub is the Chinderah, on the river on the western side of the highway, once the ferry crossing point for all coastal road traffic. The island off the coast is Cook Island, as it was first mentioned, but not named, by Cook. Dive boats use this for charter dives from Tweed Heads, although you might also make an arranged pick up from the small river marina you pass as you enter Fingal. Camping, or overnight staying is not permitted in the Tweed Shire and this is actively enforced. Also nude bathing is prohibited, and police cars do patrol the beaches, so watch out. There is community concern about undesirable types hanging about, rather than concerns about nudity.
- Letitia Spit Letitia Rd continues on past Fingal camping ground on its way to the southern head of the Tweed River. The 4 or 5 km road passes a collection of new and old houses which is what remains of the settlement of Fijians who were settled here after working as indentured labourers in the cane fields. There are many descendants in the area. The then rough road continues to the river mouth for a walk to the end of the river training walls (see the late article) and sand pumping system. At different times there is a good board break here and wide beaches. Also a favorite spot for fishermen is on the rock walls.
- Tweed River This river, named by John Oxley, is the northernmost of the Northern Rivers of NSW. Rising in the Border Ranges, it is navigable inland to the bustling alternative town of Murwillumbah, some 30km up river. Murwillumbah is worth a visit; it was once a timber town and positioned so to ship the highly valued rain forest timbers down river to be picked up at wharves once at the mouth of the river. High on the south side of the river is the Murwillumbah art gallery in a new well positioned building. It is surprisingly worth a visit; there is also a coffee shop / cafe on site. At Kondong is a sugar mill, the river previously being the transport option for the carriage of cane to the mill. At Tumbulgum is a bridge to the north, which offers an alternative drive to Murwillumbah, and another road that leads over the MacPherson Range to the Currumbin Valley in Queensland. The pub at Tumbulgum is a popular watering hole, and the town now boasts a coffee shop and restaurant. The boat ramp at Tumbulgum makes this spot also a popular spot for water skiers. The river has always been a favorite for fishermen, but for an innocent newcomer to catch a feed would be a minor miracle. House boats are available in the Tweed Heads marina, and there are endless peaceful and beautiful reaches of the river to explore. Dinghies are also available for hire at Boyds Bay inlet and at Fingal Head. The river is full of shoals, so care must be taken of navigation marks and buoys.
- Mount Warning Named by James Cook in 1770 to warn sailors of the Danger Reefs off Point Danger (now named Fingal Head in error), this prominent 1156 metre peak towers over the Tweed River valley, the coast line and offers great views of the Macpherson Range to the north. Drive there via Murwillumbah and follow the signs up the Tweed River valley. The access road rises to about the 500 metre mark, and a graded switchback foot track continues to the top. Allow for about 2 hours for the walk to the top, which finishes with a chain up slabby sections to the summit. National Parks have constructed a 360 degree viewing platform on the summit, which slightly jars, but which is quite practical. The nearest pub to the base of the mountain is at Uki, the Mount Warning Hotel.
- Kingscliff This coastal town is at the next headland south of Fingal head, about 6km further. Until about 10 years ago it was a sleepy campers mecca, but now boasts a vibrant real estate industry, and a busy coffee shop and restaurant strip, and a shopping centre containing a Woolworths. Camping sites are still available right on the beach. The surf is generally on the small side and board surfers are rarely seen out. Cudgeon Creek enters at the point, and offers blue water fisherman relatively easy access to the ocean, weather dependent of course. The mouth of the river is a favorite swimming place for all ages. There are numerous ocean front parks and facilities. The pub is the popular Grand Pacific Hotel. Further south from Kingscliff is the newish Salt real estate development featuring ocean front hotel, restaurants and bar. Further south from there is Casuarina, a newish development designed to have minimal impact on the environment and which boasts many beach houses of original design, and a surfing beach. One of the features of this development was the apparent requirement that no beach front homes were to have a view of the ocean, so from the beach there is no sign of near habitation.
Continue further south to Cabarita, Hastings Point and Pottsville, all very nice ocean front townships with surf beaches. There are several camping grounds to be found. The only pub is the Cabarita Hotel at Bogangar.
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