I am a freelance writer and diversional therapist, living in Brisbane's North West. I write for Weekend Notes, Must do Brisbane and Starts at Sixty. Visit my blogs at babybloomin.wordpress.com and brisbanetripster.wordpress.com.
Published March 30th 2014
Discover a spot where getting the raw prawn is all good
A beautiful river, waterfront camping, fresh seafood, a great little pub and knock-out beaches - what more do you want?
Instead of heading right into Byron Bay, why not stop and check out my favourite camping spot, Brunswick Heads in Northern New South Wales? The drive will take you between one and a half and two hours, depending on your Brisbane location. It's definitely worth the drive.
Campers are spoilt for choice here as there are three caravan parks to choose from. One even allows your family pooch to accompany you. All three parks have waterfront spots although two are right in town whilst the other is just off the highway. We love camping in one of the parks in town these days but when we had a four legged travel companion, the one near the highway was great.
A few steps and you're on the beach, a few more and you're in the river!
What's so special about Brunswick Heads? Firstly, you can camp in a very well maintained and clean caravan park, right on the banks of the beautiful Brunswick River. This is such a pretty spot, especially at high tide. Add to that the fact that only a two minute walk away is a seafood co-op where you can stock up on fresh prawns, crabs, fish, oysters, etc. Buy your seafood to cook yourself or wait whilst it's cooked for you. You can't beat fish and chips when you're at the beach - unless you have a fresh prawn sandwich and a cold beer or chilled Sav Blanc. Stop off at the "bottlo" and grab something cold to wash that seafood down or to sip as the sun goes down. A beaut little bakery in town boasts a great range of breads and a commendable variety of sinful treats.
[ADVERT]A five minute walk away is a little ripper of a pub, The Bruns (reportedly owned by John Cornell, or "Strop" as you may remember him, and David Gyngell, Channel 9 executive). The meals are great and there's live music on weekends.
If the pub isn't your style, then there are a number of little cafés and restaurants where you can grab a coffee or a meal. We love the Mexican restaurant Gringos Fresh Mex just outside the gates of the caravan park. The catch with this restaurant is that the owner does take off overseas during the quieter months so it's not always open. Best to phone and check before getting your taste buds ready for a taste of Mexico.
Every time we get down to Brunswick Heads there's another new cafe or shop so there's always something new happening. There are some interesting shops and boutiques to browse through so do take your credit card.
Putt around in your tinny, throw in a line, kayak, paddle board, surf or swim - the choice is yours at Brunsy. If you'd like to get out on the water but don't have your own boat, you can hire both boats and canoes. There's a very pretty little cove that's perfect for a family to have a swim or if it's surf you're looking for, you won't be disappointed as the surf beach is clean, wide and beautiful.
We have been lucky enough to see a whale on one occasion but without fail manage to spot turtles and dolphins. Whale watching cruises operate from the Brunswick Heads Boat Harbour if you'd like to increase your chances of seeing one of these beauties. Pelicans are a permanent feature too - we counted 40 in the river right outside our campsite on one of our visits.
If all that salt air gets too much and you need a break from the beach and the river, there are some lovely scenic drives in this area and if you really must get your Byron fix, it's only a 20 minute drive south.
Fantastic waterfront picnic areas make this a lovely place to just throw down the picnic rug, watch the river glide by and just chill. Playground equipment for the kids, toilet facilities, shelter sheds and BBQs make for a great day out for those not wanting to stay overnight. If you do decide to prolong your stay, accommodation choices include cabins in caravan parks, pub accommodation, motels, apartments, and holiday rentals.
This spot is my idea of heaven, the Brunswick River sparkling at high tide, in our camping chairs with fresh prawn sandwiches and a glass of white (or a cold beer) enjoying a cool sea breeze. Add to that putting my feet up and reading a good book whilst the afternoon stretches lazily ahead and I'm a happy camper. The cherry on the cake is being lulled off to sleep at night by my favourite dinghy (the Brunswick Queen) as it slaps gently against the water.