Back in 1770, when Captain Cook became the first known European to visit and map the east coast of Australia, he gave names to the more prominent features. Because of the presence of dangerous offshore reefs, Mount Warning was an obvious name for this peak of nearly 1200 metres. With its distinctive peak and rounded prow, Mt Warning must be one of the most identifiable and best-known landmarks in Australia.
What the good Captain would not have realised is that this is just the solidified magma core of a huge shield volcano which operated between 20 and 23 million years ago, rising to twice its current height and draining lava flows for up to 100 km in all directions. Then it became extinct and the high rainfall in the area washed away the softer parts of the mountain, leaving the huge caldera in which Murwillumbah is now located. This is the largest volcanic caldera in the southern hemisphere. The surrounding ranges with their cliffs facing inward toward Mt Warning are the harder lava flows outside what was the central peak.
Mt Warning and most of the ranges now are covered in prolific rainforest and are protected by a series of World Heritage listed National Parks. A walking trail leads to the summit of Mt Warning, promoted by the tourist authorities in the area as “where the sun’s first morning rays touch the Australian mainland”.
Footnote: A day or two back, I heard a news item that the Aboriginal people in the Murwillumbah area apparently have placed a sign at the start of the walking track, suggesting that the mountain has special significance to them and that it should not be climbed. The National Parks and Wildlife Service advised in the same news item that the sign is not an instruction and whether you choose to make the climb is entirely a matter of personal choice.
You will find the Information Office on the bank of the Tweed River in Alma St, near the intersection of the former Pacific Highway linking Murwillumbah with Tweed Heads to the north and Byron Bay to the south. It combines with the World Heritage Rainforest Centre, established to provide basic rainforest education and run by the National Parks and Wildlife Service. On the day of our visit, it was staffed by very pleasant ladies who happily provided us with brochures on the district, gave us helpful advice on places to visit, and encouraged us to watch the audio-visual show on the fascinating geology of the area. The centre also stocks a good range of local gifts and souvenirs.
A small carpark separates the Information Office (nearly obscured by shrubbery - Photo 1) from the very pleasant Budd Park Photo 2 where we had lunch. So don’t just rush in, grab some brochures and run: take some time to ask questions, look around, visit the park and slooow dooown to the pace of life in this very relaxed area.
If you follow our route, continue across the Tweed toward the centre of Murwillumbah, then take the first right across the bridge then immediately turn left into Wharf Street, which becomes Main St. As you climb the small hill, turn right into Queensland Road. You will find the local history museum Photo 1 on your right near the corner of Bent St, in the former council chambers which first opened in 1910. Alongside it, you will find a magnificent 12 tonne Robey steam engine Photo 2, built in 1896 and reclaimed 100 years later from its resting place.
I would love to be able to tell you about the interior of the museum and its collection. Unfortunately (back to what I said about the relaxed approach here) it is open only on Wednesdays and Fridays from 0930 to 1600 Photo 3. (02) 6672 1865.
We were fortunate to be visiting Murwillumbah in the jacaranda season. These trees, with their lovely mauve coloured flowers (also intro page heading photo) are native to South America, but are very popular in the coastal areas of eastern Australia. Some 150km or so down the road from Murwillumbah, the city of Grafton even has a well-known Jacaranda Festival every year. You will see these trees flowering from early October until late November in this region, where they are at their best, but they grow as far south as Melbourne where the flowering is somewhat later.
As I noted in my introduction page, this country town (population about 8,000) is the administrative centre for the district. Life in the area revolves around agriculture and the town is there to provide the necessary support services, although there are plenty of cafes, motels and other services to meet your needs. Ecotourism is becoming increasingly important, not surprising given the area! It’s pretty quiet after lunchtime closing on a Saturday though, because most businesses close so that people can enjoy their weekends. This photo, looking down Main St from near the Museum toward Wharf St, gives the general idea. Quite honestly, if it’s the bright lights you’re seeking, you’d be better off heading for one of those coastal developments I mentioned.
Back in 1907 a major fire destroyed much of the town, leading to extensive rebuilding. That is why many public buildings are in Federation style architecture – the Museum (next tip) is an example. Should you have the time, a look around the town is worthwhile.
Although this area is in the state of New South Wales, in many ways it has strong resemblances to similar areas in Queensland – not least in the ‘traditional’ architectural style of older wooden farmhouse buildings.
A few km out of Murwillumbah, as you head towards the little hamlet of Chillingham on the road toward Queensland, you will find this lovely old ‘Queenslander’ style house on your right, just as you turn left at a T junction. These houses were really designed to cope with the hot summer climate, with wide verandahs and high ceilings. Further north, the brick chimney would be unlikely, but it is interesting to see the “bullnose” (curved) iron roofing on the verandahs. Apart from the large trees, probably established when the house was new, it is surrounded by canefields.
If stay at the Murwillumbah hostel for more than two nights, Tassie the affable owner will give you free return transport to the foot of the mountain in the hostel minibus. Do take the chance if you’re in the town for a few days because it’s a brilliant day-trip. The walking itself is easy to moderate, but as long as you’re relatively fit you should have no problems. Trust me, the view from the top more than makes up for all of the effort
Random trivia: The mountain is the first point on the Aussie mainland to catch the sun’s rays each morning.
The Minyon falls is a good chance to see some wildlife. The Goannas (Lace Moniters) hang around the picnic tables, and if you look, you should see plenty up trees, they like to climb. We saw quite a few big ones.
Also, A Lizard that you don't often see that we saw here, was the "Land Mullet"
A nice area for Birdlife as well, and you will probably see Wallabies, we did!
All are wild, not tame, even though the Lizards are right beside your feet.
This is a pretty town located in the Tweed Valley, about 30mins drive from the Gold Coast, in Queensland.
Travel past sugar cane fields alongside the Tweed River to reach the town if coming from Queensland. There are quite a few small villages, hobby farms, Banana plantations and Sugar Cane farms.
Other tourist attractions in area are the Murwillumbah Museum on Queensland Road, the Condong Sugar Mill, Madura Tea Estates on Clothiers Creek Road and Tropical Fruit World at Duranbah. At nearby village of Tumbulgum you can go waterskiing on the Tweed River. A short, scenic drive will take you to the Beach.
The real tourist attraction of Murwillumbah is its proximity to five World Heritage-listed National Parks.
Mt Warning National Park offers walking tracks, the most popular to the top of the mountain. Start early to see the sunrise, the 1st place in Australia for the sun to hit!
The Border Ranges National Park is huge, follow the 64km Tweed Range Scenic Drive. (previous tip)
In Murwillumbah the most outstanding tourist attraction is the world-renowned Tweed River Art Gallery on Mistral Road just south of the town. Australian portraits of all eras are on display. Many nationally renowned exhibitions such as the Archibald Portrait Prize are on display.
Hopefully, you may be here in August when the Tweed Valley Banana Festival is held.
Its the second longest running festival in Australia, run over a fortnight. Inclusions are the Festival Queen Quest and many community events such as art and craft exhibitions, fashion parades, a charity ball and a colourful street parade and carnival.
Speed on Tweed, held in September, is a rather new event, but quite popular.
Historic vehicles from around Australia take part in a 1.4km circuit drive through the streets of town
Grandstands line the streets to ensure great views of the race and the showground provides a place to get amongst the cars and meet the drivers.
Many other social events and a street parade lead up to a weekend of racing.
For more information, visit.......
The World Heritage Rainforest and Information Centre, which is an interpretive centre with displays, theatrette, gift shop and free booking service. The centre features very interesting information on local Aboriginal and European history, and World Heritage regions.,
A day trip to the Nightcap national park and Minyon falls is a chance to see wildlife and do some bush walking.
These beautiful falls plunge 104 metres into the deep palm-shaded gorge below.
The top of the cliffs is forested with Blackbutt and Scribbly Gum while subtropical Booyong Rainforest and Brush Box occupy the gully beneath.
Beginning at either Minyon Grass or Minyon Falls picnic area, this walk takes you to the base of the falls and along the escarpment edge. If you want to walk only to the base of Minyon falls, the walk begins at Minyon Grass and is a 4 kilometre return
If you want to walk the loop to the bottom of the falls, it will take about 5hrs or 7.5ks. In the gorge are Palm trees.
There are two picnic areas, with Picnic Tables, Toilets, and the Goanna's (Lace Moniters) hand around after BBQ meat!
We also saw a lizard called "Land Mullet"
This is a lovely area for driving the backroads.
It is located 30ks from Murwillumbah, in Northern New South Wales.
On our way to Murwillumbah after a lovely day trip to NATURAL ARCH, we decided to pop into Clarrie Hall Dam, just for another look, as this time there had been a lot of rain in recent weeks.
It was only 1km inland, off the main Kyogle road, so not far to the Dam wall and overflow.
This isn't the prettiest area of the Dam, but we did get to walk arcross the Dam wall and view the water the water rushing down the overflow and into the creek below, something we hadn't seen before at this Dam, IT WAS FULL!!
Somebody was canoeing, and others were fishing, probably for Australian Bass which it has been stocked with.
This area, is a chance to see wildlife, and once again we were not disappointed. A large Goanna [Lace Moniter] was waiting for somebody to have a BBQ and to throw him a piece of meat.
The other, longer road into the Dam, still from Kyogle Road, is where if you want to Canoe, you should head to here. Crams Farm which is 11kms past Uki on the Kyogle Road, turn left at Doon Doon Road, is the launching point.
Continuing on another 7 kms, is the dam recreation area and boat ramp, a very pretty area, lovely views, reflections, water lillies, a nice place for a day out. This is where you may see the comb-crested jacana and the endangered black-necked stork.
No powered craft other than electric motored boats are permitted.
Electric and wood barbecues (wood supplied), shelter sheds, picnic tables and chairs, toilets and a children's playground amongst nice scenery makes for a perfect day out.
Remember if you are going to fish A NSW Fishing licence is required for fishing at the dam.
The gate is open 07:30 am and closed 05:30pm.
There is no camping allowed on the lakes foreshores.
If you don't have to do nothing just walk around in the nature. You will find always something interesting. We found eggs and a bird. She tried to attack us. But she was just scarry and not dangerous.
We had a hole day in the town. If you don't need to buy something, you just want to look around you need just a couple of hours for the trip.