Brunswick Heads, NSW, is a curious and charming place. Located 15 kilometres north of its more conspicuous coastal cousin Byron Bay, it lies like a secret, as if the locals have thrown a boring blanket over it to protect it from an encroaching commercial malady.
When I first visited the place I thought it was a little dull. On second visit, I thought it was one of the most splendid little towns ever and it remains my favourite spot in the Northern Rivers region where I live. Perhaps the blanket fooled me until I looked again.
Like a lazy, friendly dog, the town lies at the mouth of the Brunswick River, the north bank of which hosts protected littoral rainforest while the south bank has a marina for small boats. Over the river lies a somewhat windswept beach, which reminds me a little of Brighton, England and helps give the town its ‘lost in time’ feel.
Yes, the town has largely escaped the tourist push, perhaps due to its secret blanket, or the fact the Pacific Highway avoided it in 1998 as it feels like Byron Bay did perhaps 30 years ago. Apart from its pristine waterways and pine tree-laden parks, the town offers a good selection of cafes, restaurants and specialty shops for its small size (population of around 1700).
It’s also home to the Hotel Brunswick, known colloquially as the ‘Bruns’, which the Sydney Morning Herald claims has a beer garden worthy of the state’s top ten. It’s a pleasant place to sit back and enjoy a beer and a band on a Sunday, maybe after a swim, or a wander across the car or footbridge towards the sea or bushland. Here, as the town’s tagline suggests, it’s the simple pleasures that ring true.
I often visit Brunswick Heads, NSW, for a coffee, some food, one of the town’s many fairs or a swim before I stroll along the beach. The place gets busy in summer, but this is short lived, and soon this magical little town appears to conceal its worth again, from all but those who’ve looked twice.