Torakina Beach

Brunswick Heads: A short guide for families

Are you looking for a super relaxed place to take your kids? Somewhere with calm swimming spots suitable for toddlers, an abundance of playgrounds and delicious gelato, coffee and burgers to give you a night off cooking?Friends, I give you Brunswick Heads! This coastal enclave is the low-key northern cousin of Byron Bay.

Here is my quick guide to this heavenly corner of the world, just 30 minutes from Ballina Airport.

Where to stay

Byron St Bungalow
I have stayed in a lot of AirBnbs and this is the best one so far. Why? Thoughtfulness. The Smart TV means that you’re not held hostage to the local channels (a god send if you have a toddler who wants to watch HIS SHOW NOW). Real coffee and a plunger, fresh milk in the fridge, apples in the fruit bowl and things like Sukin shampoo, conditioner and hand wash in the bathroom. The beds are king sized and extremely comfortable and the location is within walking distance to town, the river and the beach. And the hosts, Vicki and Rachel? You wish they were your aunties so you could spend Christmas with them every year.

Brunswick Heads
The fish mural on the amenities block near Torakina Beach

Where to eat

In the Pink Gelato
Gelato fit for the gods. Not too sweet, freshly made and with vegan and sugar-free options that actually taste OK. Handily, this is right next to the footbridge playground.

Old Maid’s Burgers
There are a lot of good burgers around since the Burger Boom of the 2010s but Old Maid’s puts Brunswick Heads on a sourdough bun. It’s a little bit hippie with additions like kim chi, a little bit luxe with combinations like Barramundi, fresh pesto and mashed avo, and a whole lotta yum with chunky chips and chipotle mayo.

This vegetarian Middle Eastern take away joint does excellent coffee, as well as dips, falafel, shakshuka and a range of cakes and savoury pastries.

Where to go

Torakina Beach
If you’re looking for a beach that is suitable for toddlers, this is it. Torakina is a sweet little Casuarina-fringed horseshoe with break walls on either side, a fingernail of white sand, and parking and toilets nearby.

Brunswick River
My beautiful Mum with the Brunswick River fish sculpture

Brunswick River
This wide, tidal river is vodka-clear, thanks to the flourishing mangroves on its periphery. Shoals of whiting swerve through the water and a footbridge that runs from town to the beach provides a vantage point for spotting stingrays.

Brunswick Fairy Trail
One of the fairy houses we found on our travels

The Fairy Trail
Started by a local ‘Fairy Godmother’, the Fairy Trail is a source of pure wonder for kids. Go on a fairy house hunt as you wander through the streets and tell a few tall tales to the wee humans while you’re at it.

Husk distillery tasting flight
The tasting flight – Ink gin, Sloe and berry gin and Husk rum

Husk Farm Distillers
This is not in Brunswick Heads but it’s nearby in Tumbulgum (pronounced ‘tumble gum’), about a 30 minute drive into the hinterland towards Mount Warning. This is a paradise for families as there is a sweeping lawn and plenty of outdoor tables so your kids can run amok while you sip on fancy gin and rum.

The Farm
Also not in Brunswick Heads but definitely worth the short drive down the Pacific Highway. The Farm is a local dining institution where the staff wear freshly plucked Calendula flowers behind their ears and the tables spill out into the bee-buzzing, Borage-blooming gardens. The food at Three Blue Ducks restaurant is not cheap but it’s certainly worth the splurge, and there is a playground, shop, gelato bar and farm critters to admire.

Do you love Brunswick Heads? Got any tips for visiting families?

For more tips on family holidays, click here.

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