With hot, restless kids whining in the back of the car, we needed a stop off fast and took the next turn off the M1 (Pacific Highway). We followed Kennedy Drive (Gold Coast) inland for five minutes and pulled into the nearest shady looking car park, which turned out to be the perfect picnic location and river side swimming beach, Pioneer Park. Whew...
Looking south across the Tweed River from Pioneer Park
Four historic buildings have been relocated to Pioneer Park, making it a truly fascinating spot for a quick stop off or an in depth day trip. These buildings are The Soldiers Memorial Hall (1940), Tweed Heads Courthouse (1927), Boyd's Fishing Shed (1907), and The Ships Deckhouse (1870), and they're packed with maritime related treasures - small boats, ships models, shipwreck artifacts, social history and extensive photograph collections documenting the development of Tweed Heads and nearby Coolangatta.
The children loved the miniature lighthouse model, enormous anchors and "old fashioned" stuff on display. They also learnt how the early settlers and Aboriginal peoples relied heavily upon the sea for survival.
Boyd's Fishing Shed (pictured above) was built by six brothers, Jack, Herb, Fred, Charlie, Bob and George around 1907. The shed was originally located at Boyd's Beach and provided storage for the nets of these amazing beach fishermen - their record haul filled one thousand 18lb containers with sea mullet in the 1930s. Over fishing, development and pollution make this kind of haul impossible today.
The Tweed River flows across Northern New South Wales, from Mt Warning's Wollumbin National Park through the idyllic Tweed River Valley and meets the Pacific Ocean at Tweed Heads. Three local historical societies joined forces in 2004, to form the Tweed River Regional Museum.
Ship models on display in The Tweed Maritime Museum
There are now three branches of The Tweed River Regional Museum, one (currently under redevelopment) located in Murwillumbah's Shire Council Chambers (1915), one located at the mountain village of Uki and one located at West Tweed Heads. Our "surprise" visit ended up at The Tweed Maritime Museum at West Tweed Heads.
Any boating enthusiasts will love visiting the Tweed Maritime Museum, with many intricate ship models on display. We were intrigued by the information about the local involvement in the wars, particularly artifacts from the torpedoed WWII hospital ship, Centaur. We also spent quite a while poring over the photography collection of Aboriginal and Islander history and local river trade in the early days of settlement. I highly recommend Tweed Maritime Museum as a stop off along the highway and as an educational destination in itself.