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Brunswick Heads, NSW

Quiet holiday town on the Brunswick River estuary.

In an area where aggressive development has radically altered the style and ambience of the coastal towns, Brunswick Heads stands as a delightful anomaly. It remains a charming and quiet holiday retreat where life centres around the local pub with its huge beer garden and excellent counter lunches. The town is pleasantly simple and unassuming. People looking for a quiet, unpretentious town for a family holiday will find that Brunswick Heads is a genuine timewarp - a town which, in its ambience and style, is more reminiscent of the 1950s than the 21st century.

Location

Located 774 km north of Sydney and 151 km south of Brisbane via the Pacific Highway, Brunswick Heads is situated at the mouth of the Brunswick River, 2 km from the Pacific Motorway.

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Origin of Name

In 1828 Captain Henry Rous explored the Brunswick River and named it after Queen Caroline of Brunswick who was the wife of King George IV.

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Things to See and Do

101 Things to do in Brunswick Heads
With a finely honed, and self-deprecating, sense of humour the local Visitor Centre and Chamber of Commerce have produced a brochure which lists a staggering 101 things to do in a town where, honestly, fishing, surfing and swimming are really the only great attractions. The brochure has a suitably amusing sense of humour. Item No. 4 is go shopping at the IGA Supermarket and Item No. 8 is buy a book at the newsagent. Check http://www.brunswickheads.org.au/media/docs/101_Things_to_Do_2015.pdf.

Holiday Activities
In essence Brunswick Heads is a popular fishing, surfing and swimming holiday destination. The 101 Things to do brochure lists the hiring of canoes, kayaks and tinnies (to go fishing); the Blue Bay Whale Watching; surfing and learning to surf; and learning to stand up paddle. Most of these activities can be booked at the Visitor Information Centre or at the pirate ship opposite the Hotel Brunswick. Check out http://www.brunswickheads.org.au/tours-activities/boating-kayaking/hire-and-lessons/p/307 for hiring details.

Brunswick Heads Nature Reserve
Located on the northern shore of the Brunswick River is the Brunswick Heads Nature Reserve, a small area of sub-tropical rainforest which combines mangroves and rainforest habitat. The park is ideal for bird watching, picnics and exploring the beach to the north of the breakwater. The highlight is the North Head Walking Trail, an easy walk through littoral rainforest to the mouth of the Brunswick River. For more information and maps check out http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/brunswick-heads-nature-reserve.

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Other Attractions in the Area

Crystal Castle and Shambhala Gardens
Crystal Castle is la delightful way to spend a few hours soaking up the ambience of destination famed for its crystals, its interesting cafe and its huge Buddha. It is located at 81 Monet Drive in the hills above Mullumbimby. As the website explains: "In 1986, Naren King was invited to a new years party at a magnificent unique building on 25 hectares near Mullumbimby. Eccentric architect, Edwin Kingsbury, had created a concept of 'harmonious architecture', a round central building with 4 radiating wings, no 90-degree angles, and magical reflecting ponds. All built where the ley lines, or earth’s energy lines, intersect ... Hence, 'The Castle', as the locals jokingly called it, began operating as a crystal business, accompanied by the raising of horses and chickens, and years of massive re-planting of the decimated land, which had been cleared for grazing and banana growing ... Crystalight was Australia’s first direct importer of quality natural crystals from around the world, supplying wholesale crystals from the hills of Mullumbimby. Local hippies got wind of something interesting going on and kept ‘dropping in’ to marvel at the crystals ... Naren has spent over 25 years travelling the world in search of extraordinary crystals. At one stage so much rose quartz was imported that it was used to line the pathways around the Castle, which saw the gardens begin to take shape. People loved spending time surrounded by such beauty and started hanging around; hence the Café was built to provide refreshments." Today the main building, which houses the Lotus Cafe, Crystal Gallery, Words of Wisdom Bookshop, Vibrasound Room, Body Temple and Wearable Arts Gallery lies at the centre of gardens where the visitor can walk past statues of the Buddha, Ganesh, Garuda, Vishnu and Lakshmi and explore the Rose Quartz Sacred Circle, Bamboo Avenue, Labyrinth and Rainforest Walk. It is open daily from 10.00 am to 5.00 pm, tel: (02) 6684 3111. Check out http://www.crystalcastle.com.au for more details.

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History

* Prior to European settlement the area around Brunswick Heads was inhabited by the Banjalang Aborigines.

* In 1828 Captain Rous discovered the Brunswick River which he named after Queen Caroline of Brunswick who was the wife of King George IV.

* Cedar cutters moved into the area in the 1840s and by the 1850s and 1860s timber was being shipped out through the mouth of the Brunswick River. The mouth of the river was known to be dangerous with the sand bar being both shallow and narrow.

* One of the first settlers was a cedar cutter named Steven King who moved to the Brunswick River area in 1849.

* By the 1870s there were nearly 100 cedar cutters working in the hinterland.

* In the 1870s a pilot station was established by Captain Simpson at the mouth of the river to help the timber barges navigate across the bar.

* By the 1880s the town was a prosperous port serving the surrounding district.

* In 1883 the SS Brunswick was wrecked trying to cross the sandbar.

* The first hotel in Brunswick Heads opened in 1884.

* The town's importance diminished dramatically with the arrival of the Sydney to Brisbane railway line at Mullumbimby in 1894.

* By the 1920s the town had a reputation as a pleasant seaside holiday escape.

* In 1934 a bridge was built across the Brunswick River.

* In 1937 the first bridge from the town to the surf beach was completed.

* In 1959 work started on creating a quiet harbour at Brunswick Heads.

* In 1974 Cyclone Pam devastated the area.

* A new bridge and highway was built in 2007.

* Today the town's  major economic activities are tourism and its fishing fleet.

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Visitor Information

Brunswick Heads Visitor Information Centre, 7 Park Street, Brunswick Heads, tel: (02) 6685 1003. It is open 9.30 am - 4.30 pm Monday to Friday and 10.00 am - 2.00 pm Saturday and Sunday.

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Useful Websites

There is a useful local website. Check out http://www.brunswickheads.org.au for details about accommodation and restaurants in the town.

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