If you happen to wander 13 kms north along the beach from Byron Bay, you will bump into the fishing village of Brunswick Heads. Its location right at the mouth of the Brunswick River lends itself to many water based activities, such as fishing, boating, surfing, kayaking and swimming.
Things to do:
As you turn off the Pacific Highway, you pass trawlers at rest in Brunswick Boat Harbour before arriving at the sleepy seaside town. It has a clean, patrolled surf beach and a gentle riverside beach, Torakina. The breakwall is a popular fishing spot and offers views towards Byron Bay Lighthouse in the south and Mt Warning towards the west. During summer, it is fun to hop on a lilo or kayak and float with the incoming tide from Torakina Beach along Simpson's Creek. Kayaks and boats can be hired at Brunswick River Kayaks and they also conduct river-based eco-tours.
Throughout the year, several interesting festivals and events take place here. Every first Saturday of the month, Brunswick Heads hosts riverside markets which feature local food, music, arts and crafts. Relive some local heritage at the annual Woodchop Carnival, held as part of the Fish and Chip Festival every January.
Head along to Brunswick Heads in March, for the Kites and Bikes Festival - pick up your DIY Kite kit from the Brunswick Visitor Centre any time of year. In April, The Mullum2Bruns Paddle (10 kms) draws a huge crowd (780 paddlers this year). In June, The Old and Gold Festival is the venue for all things retro and vintage. For 6 weeks over the Christmas break, Banner Park fills with the rides of McGregor Family Carnival Amusements. The park also has an excellent riverside playground where children can swing with a view over the water.
For a bit of cycling fun, follow the "Tour De Bruns", an easy bike ride even for kids. The ride takes you across some lovely old wooden bridges and around the township itself. Brunswick Heads has several antique/op shops on the Northern Rivers Secondhand Trail as well as galleries on the Byron Bay Artist Trail.
Places to Eat:
There are 22 eateries in Brunswick Heads, including the Hotel Brunswick, an authentically re-styled 1940s pub. This family friendly pub features free live music every Sunday afternoon. Sticky Fingers Pizzeria has the best pizzas I've ever tasted - seriously. Next door, is Rice a stylish Indonesian Restaurant and Starfish, a top spot for fish and chips. After your meal, visit Bernardi's for knock out Italian Gelati.
Brunswick Heads provides a low key alternative holiday destination to Byron Bay. It is fun at any time of year, but summer is probably the best time to visit, considering all the water based activities on offer. The town itself is also perfectly positioned to explore all the entire Northern Rivers region has to offer.