There is no better place for the classic family holiday than the twin towns of Tweed Heads and Coolangatta, right on the state border of Queensland and New South Wales. This area encompasses the southern end of the famous Gold Coast with its razzle-dazzle, theme parks, international shopping and party atmosphere, and the laid back Tweed Coast famous for surf beaches, dramatic hinterland scenery, and relaxed lifestyle.
Barely five minutes drive from Coolangatta Airport, the Tweed coast stretches along 35 kilometres of uncrowded and unspoilt beaches punctuated by legendary surfing pointbreaks and tidal inlets leading into a network of tranquil creeks and rivers.
Undoubtedly those 35kms of clean, uncrowded ocean beaches have helped make it one of Australia's favourite holiday destinations. The area is famous for its surf beaches of Snapper Rocks, Duranbah, Greenmount Beach, Rainbow Beach and Kirra.
The north-facing beaches Coolangatta, Greenmount and Rainbow Bay are popular family swimming and with walking tracks connecting the headland between Rainbow Bay and Coolangatta, forming part of the Southern Points Promenade and the Gold Coast City Council's Oceanway network of 36 kilometres of walking/bike tracks, you can explore the coastline at your own pace.
When you want to do more than laze on the beach, Showcase on the Beach is a unique shopping, dining and entertainment centre located right in the heart of Coolangatta, consisting of a wonderful alfresco dining precinct with multimillion dollar oceanfront views, a boutique retail mix, a supermarket, and a Multiplex Cinema.
There's also entertainment for grownups aplenty with sprawling complexes like Twin Towns Services Club, Tweed Heads Bowls Club and Club Banora offering pokies, complemented by live music, international headline acts and top class affordable restaurants.
Barely a hop, skip and jump down the road, however, you'll find a very different side to life at the Tweed Marina. Get down to River Terrace at sunrise to watch the trawlers chug past and then line up to buy the day's catch straight from the back of the boat. If you'd prefer the DIY approach, hop aboard one of the deep sea fishing charters and go out in search of your own wahoo, billfish, tuna or snapper.
Of course, you may be after something even more substantial - in which case, you'll want to be here for the prime whale watching season from June to November. In the non-whale watching season, you'll be just as awe-struck by taking a trip out to Cook Island where you can dive in and snorkel with the turtles that make their home around the coral reef here.
If this sounds a little too strenuous, you can take the slow scenic route along the Tweed River, through the rainforests of Stotts Island to the quaint rivertown of Tumbulgum, where you can tuck into a traditional pub lunch at the historic hotel on the banks.
The Tweed's growing reputation as a foodie destination is further highlighted by a family theme park focused on tropical and exotic fruits. Tropical Fruit World is one of the Tweed's most popular attractions where you can easily spend most of the day taking the tractor tour around the various plantations, sampling treats like jak fruit, chocolate pudding fruit, babaco and dragon fruit along the way; or playing with the native animals as you set out a picnic lunch; or dining in the gracious old Plantation House Restaurant.
The Tweed region is also justifiably famous for its arts and crafts, and the Tweed Valley villages are home to an active community of talented local artists. Following the Tweed Art Trail to the various galleries, craft shops and studios where you can view and buy their creations is the ideal way to explore the magnificent rural scenery and quaint country villages like Tumbulgum, Chillingham, Tyalgum, Uki, Stokers Siding, Burringbar and Mooball, as well as the Tweed's outstanding regional art gallery at Murwillumbah.
A similarly mapped-out trail will expose you to Mother Nature's creative talents as you journey deeper into the valley towards the edge of the escarpment. The Rainforest Way is a relatively new touring route that links the World Heritage Central Eastern Rainforest Reserves of Australia through northern NSW and south-east Queensland.
Another highlight of the Rainforest Way is the Tweed Range Scenic Drive along the top of the escarpment through the Border Ranges National Park to breathtaking views across the Tweed Valley from The Pinnacle Lookout and Blackbutts Picnic Area.
It won't take long to realise that golfing is a popular pastime in these parts so make sure you pack the clubs if you're keen. Championship fairways at Tweed Heads, Murwillumbah and Terranora offer plenty of challenges in an absolutely spectacular setting.
Geographically speaking, the region is actually defined by the bowl or ‘caldera' of an ancient shield volcano - the world's second oldest, in fact, and the largest in the southern hemisphere. The northern boundary follows the NSW/Queensland border from the mouth of the Tweed River up to the rainforest-shrouded escarpments of Springbrook and Lamington National Parks.
Sweeping around the Border Ranges, Nightcap and Mt Jerusalem National Parks, the final arc of the semi-circle flattens out into sugarcane plantations and farmland coasting down to the Pacific Ocean just south of Pottsville.
Smack bang in the middle of this Garden of Eden is the dramatic Mt Warning, the central plug of the old volcano rising 1157 metres to catch the very first rays of sunlight that wash over the east coast each day.
Circling out from its base, the rich soils of the ancient caldera nurture lush farmland and grazing country undulating in gentle hills up to the cliffs of a jagged escarpment draped with subtropical rainforests and no less than five World Heritage listed National Parks.
You're also conveniently located within easy driving distance of everything the Gold Coast has to offer, from the southern hemisphere's premier theme parks of MovieWorld, Seaworld, Wet ‘n' Wild, Dreamworld and Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary; an unbelievable array of world-class shopping; or the vibrant heart, Surfers Paradise.
Lush rainforests. Miles of deserted beaches. Quiet rivers rambling through emerald green pastureland and waving canefields. Lively nightlife, sophisticated galleries and quaint country villages - the Coolangatta and the Tweed Coast has it all.