Storm clouds and rainbows greeted me when I arrived at the seaside resort that would be my base while exploring northern New South Wales’ Tweed Valley. I didn’t really mind; I love the shifting shapes of clouds and as long as I’m not cold and wet the weather’s moods are fascinating.
My choice for a couple of days was the coastal village of Kingscliff, and more specifically a resort complex just 2km out of the town on a beach once called South Kingscliff. Now, it’s known as Salt Beach, after the resort that has sprung up beside it.
Arriving at Peppers Salt Resort & Spa in mid-afternoon, the first stop was the beach, just a couple of minutes’ walk from the resort. Thunderclouds loomed overhead but that was no deterrent to a couple of hardy windsurfers who were turning the strong wind to their advantage. The lifeguards were huddled in a little tent, sheltering from the cold while still keeping their eyes peeled. There was no-one swimming.
Peppers offers hotel rooms, and one, two and three bedroom spa apartments – some with private plunge pools – and more luxurious accommodation in the Bale Salt Spa Suites. Some have sea views, others (including ours) look out to the hinterland. And despite the grey and cloudy sky, they did turn on a rainbow for our arrival and some blue skies from time to time.
Next door to Peppers is its sister property, Mantra on Salt Beach, which is even closer to the sand and surf. We wander in for a look around…but despite the sunshine, it’s cold and the only one brave enough to dip in the pool is a lonely seagull enjoying an expansive bath. I’m hoping for a glimpse of Australian tennis legend Pat Rafter, who is Mantra’s ambassador, but have to be content with his smiling face on a cardboard cut-out in the foyer.
Between the resorts is Salt Village, a complex of restaurants and bars, a small grocery store and a few boutiques selling beach wear. In the late afternoon, a beer on the deck of the pub, Saltbar Beachbar & Bistro – about 30 metres from the sand – seems just the thing.
Fish ‘n’ chips seems right for the first night, but then we lash out and dine at Mahsuri Thai. From the kitchen, out comes spring rolls and duck rice paper rolls, a “tuk tuk” seafood curry and mussaman curry, with a steaming bowl of jasmine rice. Dessert: chocolate cherry ripe mud cake with praline brittle and vanilla ice cream. Wonderful food and attentive service; who could ask for more?
My companion loves sunrise, so we are up before dawn two days in a row, and on the beach to see first light break. And it is so worth it…the changing light, the clouds and the colours, and the stillness. Then the birds arrive – gulls, pelicans – along with a few keen joggers, walkers and surfers. There are other photographers too, keen to capture the first light of day in this magnificent spot.
Breakfast at Peppers’ modern signature restaurant, Season, is a relaxed affair, with few mid-week early-risers. Just a buffet full of treats and the newspapers. As we leave on the second morning, we’re confronted with two surprise guests grazing in the garden: rabbits, one black, one white. Where did they come from?
For a few days R&R, nothing beats a seaside break. Kingscliff has long been a favourite holiday destination for Australian families, with its two-kilometres of uncrowded beach and relaxed pace. And it’s only 15 minutes from the Gold Coast Airport and a short drive north of Byron Bay.
To the west of Kingscliff is the massive volcanic caldera and the wonderful spike of Mount Warning. This is a region with much to explore, and I’ll be taking you there in upcoming blog posts. But before I go…one last look at that magnificent beach.
A Glass Half Full stayed as a guest of Peppers Salt Resort & Spa.