SURF AND TURF
GET IN BEFORE THE REST OF THE WORLD TO SAVOUR FRONT ROW DIGS IN AUSTRALIA’S FAST-GROWING FOOD DESTINATION
Asleepy seaside holiday village, a wet-behind-the-ears distillery in a tin shed, a field of sunflowers. It’s from these little things that big things are growing on the Tweed.
Not the kind of growth that interferes with the Northern New South Wales pocket’s cruisy character, but a more organic maturation into a food destination with a diversity that rivals the most established players.
While its products — like the colourchanging Ink Gin or much-loved Madura Tea — are acknowledged on the world stage, fame has not gone to its head.
From coast to verdant valley, the Tweed retains its down-to-earth flavour and an authenticity that’s thin on the ground in more mainstream destinations.
If that’s whet your appetite, it’s also the place to upsize your accommodation ambition, with designer-detailed beachfront mansions available as relatively accessible holiday rentals.
My partner and I checked in to Mistere at Kingscliff, a whitewashed Hamptons-inspired
haven kissed by sea spray in a central location that provides the perfect balance of surf and turf.
The three-bedroom, three-bathroom home sprawls across two stories with multiple living areas — a luxury for just the two of us, but families will find it a very comfortable fit.
You could pool resources with another couple or small group of friends without feeling like you’re in each others’ pockets.
There are resorts a couple of minutes’ stroll down the road in Salt Village, but it’s easy to become accustomed to the perks of private digs.
We don’t have to share the plunge pool, wait for a machine in the gym or change out of our pyjamas to check the surf.
We enjoy the private sunrise show from the top deck where the blue view stretches from the banksia and casuarina-clad foreshore to an endless horizon (keep your eyes peeled for whales).
Movie nights are next level in the media room where we curl up on Hermès cushions as blackout screens and a cinema-quality projector spring into action at the touch of a button. When it’s time to test the thoughtfully equipped kitchen, it’s a short drive inland to the “food bowl” to tick off the shopping list.
Yes, there’s a Coles around the corner, but the honesty box system is alive and well on Tweed roadsides, where you can pick up everything from exotic custard apples to avos that won’t jeopardise your mortgage.
Or, go one better by going straight to the sauce (ahem, source).
After upsizing from the tin shed that started it all, the family-run Husk Distillers will open to the public for the first time this month. Sparked by curiosity when Margot Robbie sipped a made-for-instagram cocktail and fanned by a global thirst for craft spirits, Husk’s success is already the stuff of local legend ... and they’ve come a long way in a few short years.
We’re given a sneak peek of the new HQ by Harriet Messenger, daughter of spirited scientist Paul Messenger.
Passing beds of butterfly peas, the magic ingredient in hypercolour Ink Gin, we pull up at the bar to taste the newest star in the stable.
Modelled on the agricole rum the family
fell in love with in the French Caribbean and made for sipping, the Husk Triple Oak Rum is a revelation … particularly for any Queenslanders bred on Bundy.
At the cafe visitors will be able to enjoy booze-spiked bakes and coffee, including Jamaican black rum cake served with a sneaky shot.
Farm & Co — the source of the brimming breakfast basket supplied at Mistere at Kingscliff — is another local operator that’s tasted Instagram fame thanks to its Instaworthy sunflowers. That inland sea of sunshine-yellow still draws day-trippers in droves, but this ever-expanding enterprise is more about connection than “likes” for owner Michele Stephens.
Chatting over a beetroot latte and raw slice, she says the family farm is intended to help people reconnect with the land and develop an awareness of what they’re putting into their bodies.
There’s real work to do, so we’re left to our own devices to explore, wandering through rows of rich, red volcanic soil and pausing to pat a glossy black calf campaigning for ear scratches. A newly built shopfront is the place to stock up on just-picked produce, while a freshly opened cafe extends the wholesome philosophy with a sophisticated plant-based menu.
Like the Tweed itself, Michele says it’s just a taste of what’s to come.
“We’re still growing — I don’t think we’ll ever be done.”
The writer was a guest of Mistere at Kingscliff. For more information on the region go to visitthetweed.com.au