Noosa’s long been known as “the” fashionable foodie getaway in south-east Queensland. Travel Editor Susie Boswell finds it’s been overtaken by a newcomer.
The King is dead. Long live the King! In this case, Noosa, an hour’s drive north of the Queensland capital, has been popular for a generation as the leading elite coastal retreat for well-heeled and discerning visitors from Brisbane, northern NSW, Sydney and Melbourne. But now a series of misfortunes – from the GFC and repeated tidal erosion of its main beach to a formula that’s simply become tired and boring – has made Noosa seem sooo last century … substituted as the region’s most desirable leisure playground and holiday destination by a new place in the sun: Kingscliff, 10km inside the NSW northern border.
Kingscliff lies on NSW’s Tweed Coast, beautifully accessible by road on the six-lane divided freeway once you reach the new Ballina bypass opened last month. Its big bonus attributes are – unlike Noosa and the Gold Coast – its pristine, uncrowded beaches and the absence of overdevelopment: a nicely laid-back environment for holiday relaxation.
Yet the glitzy attractions of the Gold Coast and its theme parks for kids, along with its big shopping centres and casino, are just a half-hour’s drive away via the Gold Coast Motorway. The equable climate, naturally, is similar to the Gold Coast’s, around a mean average of 24 degrees. Byron Bay – another resort town where a bit of refreshment wouldn’t go astray – lies a half hour to the south.
The Tweed Coast stretches along a golden sandy coastline from Fingal in the north to Cabarita to the south, its gentle, patrolled beaches ideal for swimming, surfing, waterside ball games, sunbathing and fishing. A range of fresh holiday attractions has sprung up, including river cruises, canoeing and a day in the countryside at the wholesome, family-oriented theme park Tropical Fruit World.
Kingscliff is a food-lover’s paradise. Chiefly, it’s the new home of Steven Snow’s famous Fins restaurant. Originally located at the bridge at Brunswick Heads, it first moved north to Byron and then still further north, now at the Peppers resort complex at Kingscliff, fronting 1.2km of unspoiled ocean beach (pictured). If you’ve never eaten at Fins, it’s a must-do: a sensational seafood restaurant that’s won chef’s hats for excellence every year since 1998. As well as a wide variety of other independent beachside restaurants – Thai, seafood, pub bistro among them – lining the avenue alongside Peppers resort, there’s a smorgasbord of other restaurants and interesting casual cafes lining the pavement in the open air along the ocean-side main thoroughfare of Kingscliff township. There’s a local winery, fish and chip eateries – or you can easily discover your own pretty secluded picnic spot. A range of local clubs welcomes visitors for budget dining too.
Exploring the Tweed Coast, Tweed Valley rainforests and Gold Coast hinterland provide plenty of great options for the odd cloudy day. Also on the entertainment menu are scuba diving, jet ski hire, snorkelling trips, whale tours (great vantage points here), ballooning, scenic flights, scenic trekking, parasailing, golf, tennis, bowls, antique shopping at Bangalow, catch-a-crab family days out, art galleries, country markets and clubs offering free live entertainment. Salt Village holds annual events including Opera in the Park and hosts the famous Golden Door Spa.
Susie Boswell and family were guests of Peppers Bale Salt. Bells Boulevard, Kingscliff. Tel: 6674 7777; peppers.com.au/bale-salt