When you go on holidays, the hard thing to find is information from a local family on the best places to go, what to do, and the best accommodation and food for families. We are excited to bring you the first in our series of insider guides to help you travel better with your family. Welcome to See My City – best things to do Brunswick Head.
Best things to do Brunswick Heads
The once-sleepy seaside town of Brunswick Heads, just 15 minutes north of Byron Bay, is experiencing a surge of activity and interest like never before. Brunswick Heads (or ‘Bruns’ to the locals and regulars) has always been a delicious summer holiday camping destination with not much to do except swim in the river, fish from the footbridge, and sip cool beverages, book in hand, under the shade of your tent’s awning. Now, though, visitors to this heritage town are spoilt for choice.
With an abundance of cool coffee shops, at least three places where you can order your fish and chips, two pizza joints, a curry house, Mexican, Chinese and Greek restaurants, a decadent (and somewhat mysterious) wine bar, and the much loved hotel offering plate-sized meals, you won’t go hungry. (We recommend Fat Belly Kaf on Tweed Street for the foodies amongst you, and Sticky Fingers Pizzeria on Mullumbimbi Street for the kids) But it’s the entertainment options in town that thrill us the most.
Brunswick Picture House
Owners and artistic performers Brett Haylock and Chris Chen have shovelled their love and effort into re-establishing the Brunswick Picture House after 30 years of non-use and neglect. Their team reopened this iconic building in 2016, and now the Picture House has become everyone’s new favourite meeting place in town. There’s a café on site, open Wednesdays to Sunday from 7am to 3pm, and the kiosk (with its’ very own lolly bar) opens an hour before show times.
There’s something for everyone at the Picture House – cheeky cabaret shows (not for the kids!), documentary screenings, new-release films, live shows, and film events (the showing of “Dirty Dancing” featured a real live couple doing the run-and-lift dance scene and finished with the entire audience up on their feet dancing too). Currently, it’s one of the primary locations for the Byron Film Festival showings.
Brunswick Picture House caters specifically for families and kids too, with over 50 percent of their programming centred around the young, and young at heart. Affordable fun in the centre of town – now there’s even less reason to leave!
The Brunswick Heads beach is on the other side of the old white car bridge that lies just beyond the Bruns hotel but families will appreciate the hottest tip in town – the family-friendly Torakina beach. Torakina is hidden among the dunes to the left of the first car park you’ll come across. This protected beach lies within the break walls of the river mouth. If you’re want to meet local families and find out more about where to go and what to see, this is where you’ll meet them. Happily, Torakina doesn’t ever get too crowded, so you’ll be able to park your towel and jump straight in. Keep an eye out for dolphins too. They are known to frequent the river mouth and you’ll often spot them just metres away.
For 6 weeks over Christmas, the Housie Tent comes to town. Housie, a bingo-style game with simple interactive game boards, is a local institution, having been a feature of summer holidays here for 75 years. Standing right beside the tent, a Family Carnival with rides, show bags, jumping castles, popcorn and fairy floss elevates the celebratory mood.
Brunz Fairy Trail
One of the most recent additions to the swag of entertainment options in town is what is affectionately known as the “Brunz Fairy Trail”. Created by a local lady who wishes to remain unnamed, families can collect a Paper Trail from the Brunswick Heads Visitors Centre before setting off to find and read the stories of the 14 Fairy Houses and their inhabitants. These glittery miniature abodes are scattered along Fingal Street and over the footbridge. Be sure to make a stop at the Brunswick Heads Library – you might spy an intriguing fairy house inside. Join the fun and bring the whole family along for the adventure.
When to Visit Brunswick Heads
We think the best time to visit is late Winter and early Spring (August-September), when the weather is warming up but before the crowds arrive, but to be honest, any time is a good time to visit this delightful place. With Byron Bay just 15 minutes drive away, there’s always someone about, so restaurants, shops, and cafes stay open as normal.
Shopping in Brunswick Heads
Do make time to browse the shops here. You’ll find the perfect gift or why not treat yourself? Choose from handmade shoes, designer jewellery, bespoke pottery, floaty summery dresses and smocks, leather bags, Aboriginal artworks, design books, toys, quirky kitchenware and homewares galore. Most shops open 10am to 3pm daily.
The most family-friendly accommodation options are the three Reflections Holiday Parks in town – Terrace Reserve, Massy Greene and Ferry Reserve. There’s plenty of room for caravans and tents, or book a cabin right on the water.
Our favourite is the Terrace Reserve Holiday Park that hugs the arm of the river that meanders up to the Teatree forest at Tyagarah. It’s downright divine to chill out in this shady park with black cockatoos flying overhead. Check latest prices and availability
Massy Greene Holiday Park – check latest prices and availability
Ferry Reserve Holiday Park – check latest prices and availability
The top 3 tips fro Roam the Gnome family
- Be sure to book your accommodation as early as you can. For the first time, we’re starting to see ‘No Vacancy’ signs appear on the signboards at the Holiday Parks, a sure sign that our little town is no longer a carefully guarded secret.
- Want to taste the fruits, vegetables and local produce from the Northern Rivers region? Stop by the Village Green at the south end of town and fill a box with freshly-picked passionfruit, pumpkins, sugar snap peas, lemons and limes. Check the fridge too. We have an abundance of food producers near our home town and you’ll find handmade cheeses, dips, crackers, pesto, and sweet indulgences for your daily picnic.
- Kids will love what we call the ‘Blue Park’ playground opposite the Brunswick Heads hotel. While not particularly fancy equipment, the location and views of the heavenly river from this park are the perfect accompaniment to a fresh brew in hand, and happy children meeting new friends.
Updated March 2018
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