I'm a freelance writer based in Perth, Western Australia, who enjoys writing about the things I love: travel, nature-based activities, the arts, spirituality and creative, fun activities for children.
Published October 29th 2012
Paradise isn't so far away
Situated in far northern New South Wales amidst the rainforested valleys of the Great Dividing Range and picturesque dairy farms, Murwillumbah is a delightful country town with an intriguing mixture of traditional Australian culture and the alternate lifestyles which are so characteristic of the region. Tranquil yet upbeat, and just a short drive from several spectacular national parks and beaches, it's a perfect escape from the chaos of suburban life.
Arriving in Murwillumbah, Budd Park is a great spot for a break. Situated across the Tweed River from the town centre, it has awesome views over the surrounding landscape and plenty of picnic tables and barbecues.
Budd Park is also the home of the Murwillumbah Visitors Information Centre, where you can get loads of advice, maps and brochures for your adventures in the Tweed region. The centre also houses the World Heritage Information Centre, a veritable treasure trove of information and displays relating to the many spectacular national parks which are situated in the area such as Wollumbin National Park, Mebbin National Park, Mount Jurusalem National Park and Mooball National Park. For those desiring to take home some local gourmet products, exquisite handicrafts, books or souvenirs, the centre also boasts a well-stocked gift store.
This quirky comby van, which can be seen at the Murwillumbah Visitors' centre, has been been creatively painted by a local artist.
Town Centre The Murwillumbah shopping precinct is always a bustling hive of activity and in addition to its more conventional business ventures, visitors will also find several organic produce stores, vibrant creative outlets, funky op shops and exotically scented day spas. Many of these sell locally produced crafts and edibles, thus supporting the many artisan and growers who live in the area. In addition, the town centre boasts a comprehensive selection of dining destinations.
A couple of thriving local markets are also held regularly in the town. The Murwillumbah Cottage Markets are held on the first and third Saturday of each month at Knox Park in the town centre, while the Murwillumbah Showground Markets are held on the fourth Sunday of the month.
Art Gallery A popular spot with both locals and visitors, the Tweed Valley Art Gallery is a modern, state-of-the-art structure situated amidst lush farmland on the outskirts of Murwillumbah. At any one time it features several exhibitions, highlighting the work of local, Australian and international artists. On the day that I visited, there was also an impressive exhibition in the gallery's foyer featuring the work of talented children from the local schools.
A gift shop selling a variety of art prints, cards, books and local crafts is situated within the complex, as well an attractive cafe with spectacular views over the surrounding landscape.
Scenic Drives Visitors can enjoy many scenic drives throughout the Tweed area. You can find details of recommended routes on the sign-boards at Budd Park or from the friendly staff at the Murwillumbah Visitors Information Centre.
Murwillumbah is blessed with an abundance of natural beauty.
While nature lovers will relish driving through the spectacular World Heritage listed rainforests near Mount Warning (Wollumbin), Minyon Falls and the Tamborine Circuit, other visitors may prefer dropping in on the many quirky and picturesque villages which are scattered throughout the area including Tumbulgum, Uki, Tyalgum, Stoker's siding and Chillingham. Nimbin, famous for being the hub of Australia's counter-culture during the '70s is also less than an hour's drive from Murwillumbah. Surrounded by idyllic country-side and the home of many talented artisans, these villages house an eclectic assortment of galleries, cafes, antique stores and op shops which will be sure to keep you fascinated for hours. Most also have regular weekend markets.
Although Murwillumbah is situated inland, it's just a short drive from the ocean, and Kingscliff, Cabarita Beach, Hastings Point and Pottsville Beach are just a few of the spectacular beaches in the area. Situated amongst breathtaking natural scenery and with an infectiously chilled-out vibe, these delightful hamlets offer a dramatic contrast to the heavy commercialism of the Gold Coast, further north. However, while they maintain the laid-back ambiance of beach resorts of yore, they offer a wide range of accommodation, dining and shopping options which will please the most discerning visitor as well as the more budget conscious.
The beach at Kingscliff. Image from Wikimedia Commons (by Dinkum).
Hare Krishna Farm
For those with an interest in Eastern spirituality, New Govardhan Hare Krishna Farm is a great spot to head to during a visit to Murwillumbah. While serious meditators and yoga practitioners may enjoy attending the morning program which begins at 4.30am every morning, most people prefer to visit on Sundays for the famous Sunday Feast gathering. This iconic program, which is held at Krishna ashrams throughout the world, consists of devotional singing and chanting (kirtan), a discussion on Bhagavad Gita or other sacred texts from ancient India, and a divinely sumptuous vegetarian feast. Incredibly, this is all absolutely free of charge, although donations are welcome, if you can afford it.
The landscaped gardens at New Govardhan Hare Krishna Farm
Surrounded by lush rainforested hills and featuring exquisite landscaped gardens, complete with peacocks, this is a really special place. Regardless of whether you consider yourself a spiritual person or not, New Govardhan will be sure to leave a positive impression on your heart.