SURF AND TURF

GET IN BE­FORE THE REST OF THE WORLD TO SAVOUR FRONT ROW DIGS IN AUS­TRALIA’S FAST-GROW­ING FOOD DES­TI­NA­TION

Life & Style Weekend - - ESCAPE - WORDS: CHAN­TAY LO­GAN

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

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