Loving the ‘Bruns’

Brunswick Heads, Australia

The crystal clear waters of the beautiful Torakina Beach at Brunswick Heads.

Just south of the border, down Byron Bay way (as the song goes!) you’ll discover the small coastal community of Brunswick Heads, or ‘the Bruns’ as the locals affectionately call it. Brunswick Heads is just 50 kilometres south of Tweed Heads on the Queensland/New South Wales border and 18 kilometres north of Byron Bay, positioning it perfectly on the far north coast of New South Wales.

Brunswick Heads is an absolutely glorious seaside community with an abundance of natural beauty; pure white sandy beaches, crystal clear waters, great surf breaks and the Brunswick River with some of the best river fishing around. Brunswick Heads offers a great range of simple pleasures, the most popular activities being those related to the water such as surfing, swimming, fishing and kayaking. It is also a great place for whale watching and dolphins are sighted regularly from the break-wall at the entrance to the river. Everything is easily accessible here; the river, the beaches, funky cafés and fashionable eateries are all within walking distance, no matter where you are staying. And speaking of staying, there are the usual options of motels, holiday units and apartments as well as 3 caravan parks/camping grounds – Reflections Holiday Parks Terrace Reserve, Reflections Holiday Parks Ferry Reserve and Reflections Holiday Parks Massey Green. We chose to stay at Terrace Reserve as it is right in town and fronts directly onto Simpsons Creek. This is a beautiful spot with clean and modern amenities and is well managed by Jack and Elly Wilson and their team of super-friendly staff.

Cast a line in from your van.

The Terrace Reserve Park is huge, spreading along the banks of Simpsons Creek. It offers a range of caravan site options, from large sites with slabs for larger caravans to smaller grass sites for camper trailers. There is also a beautifully shaded area for tents. In my opinion, the best caravan sites are those fronting directly onto the river. You can literally relax on your camp chair and cast a line into the river. Or if vanning and camping is not your thing, how about ‘glamping’? Take your pick of cabin accommodation in the all-in-one premium cabins offering all the comforts and amenities of home. Spacious balconies look directly out onto the creek for those magical sunrises or sublime sunsets.

We stay on a large and level corner site directly across from Simpsons Creek. It is perfect for our 8 metre Aura Strada caravan. On our last visit our neighbours from the Sunshine Coast, Steve and Lisa stayed directly opposite us and right on the creek. The four of us spent pleasant days sitting fishing and talking, enjoying the absolutely glorious mid-August sunshine. In terms of a place to relax, I don’t think it gets any better than Brunswick Heads. A bonus was our immediate proximity to the free gas BBQ. Great for the bacon and eggs in the morning and for the evening meal of fresh fish, which due to our complete lack of fishing skills, we had to buy from the local fish shop! (Not necessarily what we told our friends)! Guess you can’t have everything!

Check out Reflections Holiday Parks Terrace Reserve at: www.reflectionsholidayparks.com.au                                                                                            Email: terracereserve@reflectionsholiday.com

Park your car and forget it!

Because Terrace Reserve is so central, you can walk everywhere. Stroll across the town’s famous footbridge, through the dunes to one of the most pristine surf beaches on the north coast. Follow the shoreline north to the break-wall then along the wall back towards town. You’ll gaze down on what I believe to be one of the most beautiful coastal bays you’ll find anywhere, Torakina Beach. No more than 150 metres wide, Torakina Bay is formed by two break-waters, providing a beautifully sheltered swimming and sun-bathing retreat. The beach is also easily accessible from town over the road bridge.

There is no shortage of things to do in the town centre. There are lots and lots of cafes and restaurants offering the laid-back cuisine Brunswick Heads is famous for. The Bruns Bakery is legendary in these parts and is a must-visit for the best bread and pasties I have ever tasted. Try the chunky meat pies. Unbelievable! There are plenty of shops to visit and explore, offering everything from antiques and collectables to beach fashions and surf gear. The whole town has a charming, if slightly bohemian feel to it, no doubt the lasting influence of decades past. It’s not uncommon to the see the latest top-of-the-line Mercedes parked behind a beautifully restored VW Kombi Van.

The entertainment centre of the town and indeed of the entire district is of course the pub. The Brunswick Hotel, or ‘the Bruns’ as it is locally known features a large and beautifully sunny beer garden, somewhat reminiscent of the 70’s beer garden ‘sessions’ and is in stark contrast to today’s taverns that seem more focused on the indoor than the outdoor. Saturday afternoons and the beer garden is crowded. Sunday afternoons with live entertainment, it’s out of control with hundreds of locals and visitors descending on ‘the Bruns’ to enjoy the live music and soak up the unique social atmosphere that is Brunswick Heads.

And if a Sunday session at the Bruns is not enough to relax you, try a remedial deep tissue massage. Peter Scholz from the Zen Massage Clinic in nearby Ocean Shores is happy to come to you. You can contact Peter on 0427 133 311 or at: peters.shiatsu@gmail.com

In all, Brunswick Heads is a great place to visit for a weekend, a week or even longer. For Dinah and I, it is an easy 3.5 hour drive from home on the Sunshine Coast towing our van. So, if you plan to travel the east coast through northern New South Wales, make sure you make time for Brunswick Heads. We know that you’ll love ‘the Bruns’.

Tips for the Trip

If you have planned your travel in advance, it’s a good idea to book ahead. With so many of us constantly on the road, not to mention the numerous school and public holidays, the parks can get pretty full. Booking ahead assures you a spot in the location you want. It may also allow you to select the site that best suits your needs.

When you check in to the caravan park you’ll be given a park map highlighting your site. We keep the maps of all parks we visit in a travel folder. While we are at the park, we walk around to identify which would be the best site for us should we return, then mark it on the map. This way, when we contact the park in the future to book, we can request that specific site. Invariably if we are booking far enough ahead and out of peak times, we get our preferred site.

Oh yes. If you are planning to enjoy a cold one at the Brunswick Heads Hotel on a Sunday afternoon, get there early to get a table. It packs out quickly.

Photo Gallery

Main picture: The idyllic Torakina Beach at Brunswick Heads

  • A nice set-up right, across from the river
  • Good size sites means that you can park your vehicle right next to the van
  • Relaxing with friends camping on the river bank
  • Still water swimming near the breakwater
  • The park has excellent facilities, including gas barbeques
  • The most amazing collection of shops in this town. Check out this doll’s house
  • Great walking and exploring
  • Great water sports – great paddling on the river, great surfing on the beach
  • “Are you sure that there are fish in here?”