Gold Coast/Tweed Heads

Tweed Heads and Coolangatta are twin towns located on the border between north-eastern New South Wales and south-eastern Queensland. Coolangatta is in Queensland and part of the Gold Coast City. Tweed Heads and neighboring suburbs are part of the Gold Coast urban area, but are located in Tweed Shire, headquartered in Murwillumbah.


When you cross the wide Tweed River from the south, you remain in New South Wales for around 5km before passing into Queensland. The border is in the built up retail area near the mouth of the river.

Where is the border?

The border between New South Wales and Queensland winds its way through the towns of Tweed Heads and Coolangatta. With buildings, roads, and other structures spanning the border it is often not obvious which state you are in. This can be important in summer months, when New South Wales operates on daylight savings time, and Queensland does not. If you land at Coolangatta airport from the south, you will touch down in New South Wales, and taxi to the terminal in Queensland. The border is actually the 19th century survey line of the watershed. When surveyor Evans followed the MacPherson range eastwards he was directed to mark the border and terminate it at Point Danger, however the watershed hit the coast at Currumbin headland some distance north. He drew a direct line from the hill behind Currumbin to what was thought to be Point Danger, thus the border runs parallel to the beach for some kms before terminating at the headland north of the Tweed River mouth.

Coolangatta is pronounced with the emphasis on the second-to-last syllable, like regatta, and unlike Talangatta.

Get in

The Gold Coast airport is in Coolangatta, about 5 km from Tweed Heads, and has domestic flights and international flights from New Zealand, Malaysia, and Japan.

Buses run from Brisbane and points south. The train service from Brisbane to Robina, central Gold Coast, has bus connections through to Coolangatta and Tweed Heads.

It is a comfortable 65 minutes drive from Brisbane on the Pacific Motorway. One can exit just after the Brisbane airport to hit the coast near Kirra for the short coastal drive through Coolangatta to Tweed Heads.

Get around

By bus

Frequent Surfside buses run from Tweed Heads northwards towards Coolangatta and Surfers Paradise. Frequent buses (routes 601 to 608) also operate to Kingscliff, West Tweed and Banora Point. The bus to Murwillumbah (route 605) operates hourly on weekdays (every 2 hours on weekends); the route is particularly scenic. Route 603 runs to Bogangar and Pottsville hourly every day and provides access to less developed and uncrowded beaches to the south.

By car

Coolangatta and Tweed Heads are easily accessible from the Pacific Hwy. The highway now bypasses the whole area making the local roads much less congested. Some back streets between Coolangatta and Tweed Heads and in Currumbin are quite steep.

See the Gold Coast article for a list of car rental companies.



Scuba Diving There are several scuba dive companies using Cook Island as their dive location. Cook island is the small island first mentioned by James Cook when he named Point Danger and Mt. Warning in 1770, about 2km offshore. The volcanic rookery island is in unprotected water and intending divers should be aware that this is no barrier reef experience, but the reefs offer interesting diving and the waters are prolific with turtles.

Bush Walking The Tweed Shire encompasses the catchment of the Tweed River, which drains the southern slopes of the MacPherson Range, known as the Border Ranges in NSW. There are many inspiring hikes in these ranges, but most require navigation experience in rain forest, and the correct equipment for the time of year. However there are several opportunities for the visitor to taste the bushwalking opportunities. Mt Warning has been dealt with in the "Get Out" section below, and is highly recommended for the hiker who likes the surety of National Park signs and maintained paths. Mt Cougal is the twin peaked feature evident from the coast, standing in front of the larger mountainous area behind, the Springbrook Plateau. The walk to Mt Cougal is unmarked, but the following simple instructions will get you there from the Tweed Shire. Drive to Tumblegum on the Tweed River, crossing the river to the north side at the bridge over the Tweed just south of the township. Follow the signs to Murwillumbah along Dulguigan Rd until Tomewin Rd, turn right to the north. This road climbs to the border crossing at the watershed at Tomewin, but near the top of the climb take the turn left on Garden of Eden Road. Follow this to the end and the border fence, and park your car. Now on foot, follow the border fence, a combination stock and rabbit exclusion fence, west, leading to the base of the cliffs on East Cougal. There is a rough scramble to the summit of East Cougal, from where views can be had. The scramble across to the top of West Cougal is an option, but remember you are in steep country. Pay attention to where you go, because you have to come back this way to get back to the fence for the return journey. From Tomewin you can drive into the Currumbin valley and then west for a swim at the Currumbin rock pool, a large deep stream fed popular pool. Further up this valley, 1km from the end of the road is the Currumbin Rock Slide for the brave. Wagawn is a mountain accessed by taking Queensland Road out of Murwillumbah, and turning left into Numinbah Rd, should be well sign posted. Follow on to the Queensland border, and on the other side of the border gate turn hard left on a dirt road and park. The border fence is a sturdy fence on the top of the ridge and so you follow this in a large arc toward to the obvious mountain to the west; this is Wagawn. The fence terminates at the cliffs so then you follow the well worn path to the right which enters the section called the Bushrangers Cave, a large eroded overhang with sometimes a trickle of water dropping from above. To ascend the mountain above, continue on until a cliff break and it is possible to climb up through the trees and rocks. This is slippery and steep. Pay heed to the way you come, because many parties become uncertain of the track on descent, and end up in steeper circumstances than they wish. There may be some tape on the trees that will help. The track contours to the left high above the cave below, ascending all the time until the border ridge is again attained. Continue up this ridge until it flattens out and you are pretty much at the top and on the National Park track system linking Binna Burra Lodge with O'Reilleys Lodge. Nice place for lunch before the return for a total time 3-4 hours plus stops. Now it occurs that backpackers could arrange to be dropped off at the border gate with their gear and continue on to either of the two mentioned lodges, about 11 km further, where camping and accommodation is available, and transport back to the Gold Coast. This would be an interesting way to get a feel for the Lamington National Park. The best activity is the beach. Coolangatta and Rainbow Bay face north. To get the same wave break you have to go to either Byron Bay or Noosa Heads.



Tweed Heads has a vibrant club scene based on service and sporting clubs, much larger than the shire would normally sustain. The background to these establishments is that for many years poker machines were prohibited in Queensland, but allowable in clubs in New South Wales. Thus clubs proliferated just over the border in Tweed Heads, thriving on holiday traffic from the Gold Coast and on day trippers from Brisbane. Visitors to the shire may be signed in by the doorman, otherwise entry is restricted to members. The clubs all have much the same offer, larges lounges, bars, dining areas and poker machine areas (foreign visitors please note that poker machines are called "pokies") and entertainment. Some quite big stars often turn out at these venues. The big ones are the Tweed Heads Services Club, 100 metres from Queensland, the Tweed Heads Bowls Club, a bit further on, Seagulls Leagues Club on the Terranora Road and Tweed Heads Golf Club in South Tweed Heads. But this information is placed here in the eat category, because these clubs offer exceptional value for money restaurants.


Go next

Continue further south to Cabarita, Hastings Point and Pottsville, all very nice ocean front townships with surf beaches. There are several camping grounds to be found. The only pub is the Cabarita Hotel at Bogangar.

Routes through Tweed Heads

Brisbane Gold Coast  N  S  Byron Bay Ballina

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