I’ve driven over the Tweed River many times but last week I actually got to float down it, thanks to Tweed Endeavour Cruises.
The Tweed River flows through Northern New South Wales and was discovered in 1823 by John Oxley, an English explorer and surveyor. He reported that the scenery here ‘exceeded anything I have previously seen in Australia’ – and after this river cruise I can see what he was on about….
Our cruise starts at Tweed Marina and it’s all aboard for a 9.30am departure. Our lovely old wooden hostess (boat) is the Golden Swan, launched in 1971 as part of the Golden Mile Ferry Service on the Brisbane River.
Captain Stuart takes the helm in a crisp white shirt and gold and navy epaulettes. He tells me he’s been on the water since joining the navy when he was eighteen, and he’s been at the wheel of the Golden Swan for the last 10 years, he even cooks the steaks at lunch time.
“This is a pretty great office” he says gesturing to the river. “Every day is different, it’s always changing, I love my job.”
Tea, coffee and cake is served as we get underway and there’s a bar to buy beer and wine if you feel like something a bit stronger.
Captain Stuart provides a rolling commentary, pointing out Banora, Fingal and Stotts Island Nature Reserve as we chug past watching from our floating armchair. Australian Red Cedar first attracted timber cutters to the area in the late 1800s. The scenery is beautiful and magnificent Mount Warning pops out around every corner.
Recreational fishing and boating is popular here and the river is home to a fleet of house boats. I’d love to spend a weekend on a houseboat and after the cruise I moved that little adventure further up my bucket list.
Camera around my neck, I head upstairs to the open deck for the best view of the bird feeding. Huge black and white pelicans plummet from the sky and skid across the water as they dive for food scraps hurled from the back of the boat. Hawks and Brahminy Kites circle high on the updraft waiting for their moment to swoop, and seagulls screech loudly for their supper.
We tie up at the pier when we reach the quaint little riverside town of Tumbulgum and the Captain ushers us ashore. We have one hour of free time to explore, and while some head straight to the historic Tumbulgum Tavern for a pint, I poke my head in at the local art gallery, the pretty House of Gabriel and the recently opened Bearded Baker café, (impressive pastries and bread, must go back there some time).
Lunch is served on our return journey, and depending on your booking you’ll be served a meal of fresh seafood or BBQ surf & turf. My seafood lunch includes oysters, mussels, local crab and prawns straight from the trawlers. Fresh salads and crusty bread rounds out the meal perfectly, along with my glass of wine.
In my post-lunch food-coma I gaze out the window as the green river banks slowly roll past, the water reflects back the beautiful scenery like a mirror and I feel completely relaxed, happy to have escaped the rat-race for awhile…
Owners Scott and Kylie come from a fishing family and have been running cruises on the Tweed River for 20 years. The tours are popular with retirees and many of the guests I spoke to were repeat customers, some local and some from interstate. It’s the perfect time of year to do a cruise because the weather isn’t too cold or too hot and the slow pace and beautiful scenery is hard to beat. We are so lucky to have this on our doorstep!
Recommendation: Take your Mum or overseas visitors for a float down the Tweed River to enjoy excellent local seafood while exploring the beautiful scenic waterways of Northern NSW. In the school holidays kids will have fun on the Crab Catching Cruise which includes yabbie hunting, mud crab catching.
Tweed River and Rainforest Cruise (4.5hours)
Leaves: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday from the Tweed Marina
Departs: 9.30am to 2.00pm (QLD time)
Seafood lunch $83 / BBQ lunch $66
Disclaimer: I was a guest of Tweed Endeavour Cruises, thanks guys!
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Eat Well Travel Often my friend! Shannon #travelandnoms