Goodbye Ballina – Hello.


#TravelTuesday Waving hello. Shared via Instagram from @discoverballina (@get_regrann) – JETSTAR BALLINA. With daily flights from Melbourne and Sydney to Ballina there is no excuse not to visit the Northern Rivers 📷 @photographybyashmurray via Instagram

What is Ecotourism?

Originally launched on Geocities (remember them?), the Big Volcano Ecotourism Resource Centre (ERC) is a resource for hospitality, tourism and travel students, academics, operators, stakeholders and travellers interested in ecotourism, nature based tourism, ecologically sustainable development and related issues.

Wollumbin/Mt Warning and Tyalgum village

Wollumbin/Mount Warning seen from the village of Tyalgum, in the Tweed Shire.

It is a comprehensive guide to ecotourism practice, ecologically sustainable development (ESD), issues & stakeholders, general tourism resources, travel best practice management sites world-wide, and to local and regional travel resources, with more than 30 individually researched and curated categories for people to explore.

So what is Ecotourism?

Many times, when people ask “what is ecotourism?  What does it mean?”, the reply more often than not consists of what the respondent believes it isn’t.

Over the last two decades unbrella terms have grown to include “sustainable tourism”, “nature based tourism”, “responsible tourism”, “geo tourism”, “wildlife tourism”, “slow tourism”, “green tourism” and others.  No wonder the average traveller is confused!

The collection of resources listed in this category, are intended as an introduction for stakeholders, tour operators, outdoor guides, project developers, students, the general travel industry, and travellers, to the various opinions and examples in the field.  Some are over a decade old, but provide a good insight into ongoing issues in the field.

Here’s a sample.

  • What is ecotourism? New From the State of Queensland (Department of Environment and Science), this page provides a concise description, and reasons why ecotourism is important to the QLD economy (not much mention of culture and environment factors though), and a bullet list of requirements for operators and eco certification assessment schemes.
  • 10 ways to tell if your eco-lodge is really eco! Updated By Justin Francis, ” ‘Eco’ and ‘eco-lodges’ have become buzzwords used by both terrific organisations dedicated to conservation and benefitting local people, and those seeking to exploit its marketing potential for economic gain with little or no regard for destinations.  Without getting into the intracies of composting toilets how can the tourist decide between the genuine and the not so genuine?”  Still a useful guide for would-be “ecotravallers”, with 10 ways to tell if your “eco-accommodation” is really eco, rather than just greenwashing.
  • Codes of Conduct, Practice & Operational Guidelines ERC Links, with descriptions, to operator and travellers guidelines for ecotourism, sustainable tourism, outdoor and nature based tourism activities.

For more, go to the page here: Big Volcano Ecotourism Resource Centre (ERC) What is Ecotourism?

Spring on the plateaux

Spring has sprung, and the thoughts of lots of couples turn to a relaxing overnight weekend getaway, or longer midweek break before the school holidays, which start on September the 21st and go through to October 6th for Queenland, and from September the 28th through to October 13th for New South Wales.

Mt Tamborine

For work weary Brisbanites, the Tamborine Plateau offers a welcome respite from the daily grind of the big smoke, away from the traffic and noise of the city.

Also known as “Tamborine”, “Tamborine Mountain” or “Mount Tamborine”, and being less than 45 minutes drive south of Brisbane via the M1 Pacific Motorway,  with a wide range of accommodation to suit all budgets and tastes, Tamborine is a popular local destination for a relaxing break.


Gold Coast sunset from Mount Tamborine

Actually comprising 3 areas: North Tamborine, Eagle Heights and Mount Tamborine; each locality has its own distinct features, which can be enjoyed using any one of a number of “hop on – hop off” tour operators.

For anyone wanting to leave their hideaway, there are plentiful vantage points and picnic spots offering magnificent views to the Gold Coast to the east and the national parks of the Scenic Rim to the west.

Four major waterfalls can be reached with relative ease, with walks ranging from a 400 metres stroll, to a 2.5 klm hike through the rainforest, to arrive at waterfall viewing platforms or lookouts.

Popular accommodation options (via affiliate links) include:

  1. Escarpment Retreat & Day Spa
  2. Curtis Falls Mountain Spa Retreat
  3. Pethers Rainforest Retreat
  4. Tamborine Gardens
  5. Amore Mt Tamborine
  6. Cedar Creek Lodges
  7. Witches Falls Cottages
  8. The Polish Place
  9. Avocado Sunset Bed & Breakfast
  10. Curtis Falls Cottage
  11. The Bearded Dragon Boutique Hotel
  12. Mt Tamborine Stonehaven Guest House
  13. Lisson Grove

For more information about the Tamborine Plateau, visit the Big Volcano Places Guide – Tamborine Mountain

If Tamborine Plateau is the place for European inspired gardens and pleasant strolls through rainforest to waterfall lookouts, then Springbrook Plateau says “I’ll see your rockpools and raise you 100 metre waterfall plunges.”


Waterfalls cascade over the spectacular cliffs from this plateau, while you can take your pick of lookouts perched on the edge of the precipitous canyons, which may also offer scenic views to the Gold Coast cityscape.

Purling Brook Falls

Purling Brook Falls and canyon panorama

8 walking tracks, ranging from short 30m strolls suitable for wheelchairs, up to a 17km bushwalking trail hike, provide visitors with the opportunity to experience a range of forest types including temperate and subtropical rainforest, through to eucalypt forests and montaine heath.

One of the most popular short walks is to “Best of All Lookout”.  Although many people assume it’s because of the impressive views over the Tweed Valley and Mount Warning (Wollumbin), to the south; to me, it’s the short walk (600 metres), on a paved path, past an ancient stand of Antarctic Beech, and the landscaped effect of nature’s own efforts.

While the lookout is the desired destination for most people, just pausing and taking time to look around at the rainforest landscape surrounding the path, will sharpen your senses.  

Please note, that at 900m altitude, the plateau can also be up to 5°C cooler than the coastal plain and valleys below, so don’t forget to bring a long sleeved shirt or jacket with you, in case it gets chilly.

And even when it’s fine and sunny down on the coast, mist and clouds can roll in and shroud views from the lookouts.  But that’s part of the magic, especially on the stroll to Best of All Lookout.  You’ll feel like you’ve been transported back in time.

Popular accommodation options (via affiliate links) include:

  1. Purling Brook Falls Gwongorella
  2. Springbrook Mountain Chalets
  3. Dancing Waters Cottage
  4. Springbrook Lyrebird Retreat
  5. The Mouses House Rainforest Retreat

For more information about Springbrook Plateau, visit the Big Volcano Places Guide – Gold Coast Hinterland

See also (Department of Environment and Science) Springbrook National Park for more details about the national park and walking tracks.

UPDATE 20/10/19: Due to bushfires Binna Burra section of Lamington National Park and Gold Coast Great Walk is closed due to bushfires in early September..  Applies until 20 December 2019.

.  For more details see


Located on the Bruxner Highway about half way between Lismore and Ballina, many visitors to the region make a day trip to the Alstonville Plateau to take in the stunning views, and to visit popular local attractions like Summerland House, and Victoria Park Nature Reserve, a “Big Scrub” remnant.

Victoria Park Nature Reserve entrance

Victoria Park Nature Reserve entrance, Alstonville

Despite being on the southern flank of the Tweed Volcano complex, the Alstonville Plateau appears to be around 20 million years older, although it’s believed to have evolved from the region moving over the same “hotspot” responsible for the Tweed Shield Volcano.

As a result, the soil type is also distinct from that of the Tweed Caldera, and the region is known for rolling hills of macadamia orchards, which are plentiful around the smaller villages leading to Alstonville.

The village is also famous for Tibouchina blossoms putting on a show with their vibrant purple flowers in late summer and autumn.  One variety – Tibouchina ‘Alstonville’ was cultivated by the late Ken Duncan, who was a resident and Tibouchina enthusiast.

While Spingbrook and Tamborine are popular for couples, Alstonville and surrounds offer more family friendly options, with fully self contained cottages and holiday rentals available.

And being less than 30 minutes drive from Ballina, means that a day at the beach is a relaxing option for families and couples alike.

Popular accommodation options (via affiliate links) include:

  1. Alstonville Country Cottages
  2. Alstonville Settlers Motel
  3. Arabella Garden Inn – Wollongbar
  4. Lavender Cottage
  5. Maggie’s on Green
  6. Tallaringa Views

For those on a road trip, or a road nomad on the “Big Lap”, then Alstonville Showground provides powered and non-powered, pet friendly RV suitable sites.

For more information about Alstonville Plateau, please visit the Big Volcano Places Guide – Alstonville

Ballina-Byron Gateway Airport is less than 30 minutes drive from Alstonville, and and Gold Coast Airport  is 45 minutes drive from most Springbrook and Tamborine Plateau destinations, with car hire or private car/limousine  transfers available.

Affiliates Disclosure: Some of our post links above, and web site links maybe “affiliate links.”
This means that if you click on a link and purchase an item or make a booking, we may get an affiliate commission or payment.  Links will usually open in a new tab or window.

Tyalgum Music Festival 2019

Music Around Every Corner

Friday 6th September to Sunday 8th September, 2019.

Nestled in the foothills of Mt Warning, 24 Km west of Murwillumbah, in the Tweed Valley of New South Wales, Tyalgum is a picturesque rural village and host to one of Australia’s foremost classical and contemporary music festivals.

Since its debut in 1992, thousands of patrons have enjoyed performances of international standing.  Past concerts have featured Roger Woodward, Miriam Gormely, Piers Lanne, Carmel Kaine, Anthony Camden, The Australian String Quartet and soloists from orchestras such as Academy of St Martin of the Fields, The London Symphony Orchestra, The Academy of Ancient Music, The Moscow Philharmonia and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.

Tyalgum Literary Institute

Tyalgum Literary Institute

Integral to the success of the festival is the historic Tyalgum Literary Institute Hall, built in 1907.

Seating 250 people, this charming timber hall offers the ideal intimacy for chamber music and soloists, and has been praised by international artists for its pure acoustics.

This year’s concert series continues the festival’s fine musical tradition.  Visit for a day or the weekend, and experience a selection of superb classical music in this stunningly beautiful setting.

Enjoy world class ticketed performances and free “musical encounters” at various locations around the village.

Programme brochure:



Artists include Greta Bradman, one of Australia’s most celebrated operatic and concert artists,  Israeli-Australian pianist Anna Grinberg, internationally acclaimed Tibetan musician and cultural ambassador – Tenzin Choegyal, the Viney-Grinberg piano duo, the 20 piece Queensland Conservatorium Brass Ensemble, the Tinalley String Quartet, and more.

See the Big Volcano Places Guide – Tyalgum for more information about the village, and the Tyalgum Music Festival – Main Series Program 2019, for full programme details and to purchase festival passes and concert tickets. map

Affiliates Disclosure: Some of our web site links maybe “affiliate links.”
This means that if you click on a link and purchase an item or make a booking, we may get an affiliate commission or payment.  Links will usually open in a new tab or window.


Dog prohibited zones at Pottsville and Hastings Point

Tweed Shire Council annouces new signs and ‘dog prohibited’ zones at Pottsville and Hastings Point, with a new Coastal Ranger to assist with protection of threatened species.

Two areas have recently been declared ‘Dog Prohibited’ zones under the Companion Animals Act 1998, located at the mouth of Cudgera Creek, Hastings Point and Ambrose Brown Park and adjacent foreshore, Mooball Creek, Pottsville.

“Declaring the ‘dog prohibited’ zone at Pottsville is to provide an option for families to have a safe swimming and recreational area without dogs. These zones are also in place to protect threatened species.”


A map showing the area at Pottsville which has been declared a dog prohibited zone.

Tweed Shire Council’s Coordinator Sustainability and Environment, Jane Lofthouse said the ‘dog exclusion’ area at the mouth of Cudgera Creek, Hastings Point had been in place for several years.

“This change of classification to a ‘dog prohibited zone’ formalises the exclusion zone under the appropriate legislation and regulations, however, the intent, location and size of the zone remains the same,” Ms Lofthouse said.

Highlighting the importance of the dog exclusion zone at Hastings Point was the successful breeding of a Beach Stone-curlew chick in 2018.


A map showing the area at Hastings Point which has been declared a dog prohibited zone.

This critically-endangered bird has rarely been recorded successfully breeding in the Tweed and this would not have been possible without the support of volunteers, the community and responsible dog owners.

In a recent review, Birdlife Australia recommended that, as a priority, dogs be prohibited at the mouths of estuaries as these are critically important foraging and nesting areas for shorebirds that are already under significant pressure from recreational activities.

To assist with protection of threatened species along the Tweed coast, Council recently employed a Coastal Ranger who will focus on educating the community. Ranger Wayne wants to encourage anyone who is unsure of the current zones along the beaches to stop and have a chat with him.


New Coastal Ranger Wayne will be out and about on the Tweed Coast explaining the new dog prohibited zones.

“If you see me out and about, please don’t be afraid to stop and have a chat. My role is to provide education to the community about the dog zones along the coast, but also to ensure compliance with the new and current regulations,” Ranger Wayne said.

New signs have now been installed at the new ‘dog prohibited’ locations and at other locations where signs were missing.

The recent designation of the dog prohibited areas is not related to the review of off-leash dog beach areas which has been postponed for consideration under the Tweed Coastal Management Program. Community consultation on this issue will be undertaken in 2020, including appropriate use of beaches and foreshore areas.

View all dog off-leash beaches via the online mapping tool at


To view all media releases online, please visit the Tweed Shire Council Newsroom.

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See also Big Volcano Visitor Guide Dog exercise areas for the Gold Coast, Tweed and Byron Shires.

Tweed Regional Gallery presents two new solo exhibitions

Thursday 18 July, 2019

Two new regional artist exhibitions open at Tweed Regional Gallery

Portal by Northern Rivers-based artist Leora Sibony explores what the brain reconstructs when trying to recall colour and shapes, and places been and felt, without specific references.

Her practice involves disassembling an observed landscape or place, and visually reassembling it as remembered shapes and colour using paint, paper and found objects.

“It is hugely interesting to me to rely on memory and feeling when making work and how it relates to the place and my experience within it,” Sibony said. “The idea that every time a place is recalled from memory it is actually a mixture of every place you have ever been.”


Leora Sibony, flux converter, 2019, oil on polycotton, 92 x122cm

Sibony undertook a residency at the Nancy Fairfax Artist in Residence Studio earlier this year, with the Condong Sugar Mill providing inspiration for her work.

These Little Things: Drawing my everyday by Murwillumbah-based Tamsin Ainslie isolates often overlooked snippets of life – a pencil, a toy, contents of pockets, the washing up, a stray sock.

Ainslie is a children’s book illustrator. She has illustrated books including ‘The Sisters Saint Claire’, ‘Collecting Sunshine’ and ‘Ruby Learns to Swim’.


Tamsin Ainslie, Tiny Buddha, 2019 watercolour and pencil on paper, framed, 14 x 16cm. Courtesy the artist

Through her daily drawing practice, Ainslie notices and explores small, ordinary, everyday things and moments. “I don’t just draw what I see, I draw what I feel.” Ainslie said, “I wrap my legs around the horse, the sheep wrap themselves around me – I draw that.”


Gallery Director Susi Muddiman OAM said: “Leora and Tamsin are two artists with distinct practices, who both convey visual experiences.  I am thrilled these artists will be exhibiting at the Gallery as an outcome of the Community Access Exhibitions Program.”

A ‘Meet the Artist’ event will be held on Sunday 28 July from 2-4pm, where the artists will provide insights into their artistic practice.  Stay afterwards for a drink and a chat in the Gallery Foyer.

In conjunction with These Little Things. Drawing my everyday, Tamsin Ainslie will be hosting a pop-up studio in the Gallery on Sunday 18 August, where she will be facilitating a guided drawing session from 11am-1pm.

Portal and These Little Things. Drawing my everyday open to the public on Friday 26 July and continue until Sunday 22 September. Please note: There will be no official opening for this exhibition.

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To view all media releases online, please visit the Tweed Shire Council Newsroom.