“My absolute all time favourite weekend spot is where the 1872 lighthouse at Fingal Heads in Northern NSW stands. Each day at around noon pods of dolphins frolic in the breakers between the heads and Cook Island. The dolphins take great delight in surfing the breakers and quite regularly join in with the human surfers. Very few people take the lighthouse trek (most are happy to enjoy the beaches either side), and as such it’s always very peaceful to take shelter under the Pandanus trees on the rocky outcrops and partake of a picnic lunch.” –AT reader Susan Smith, Happy Valley SA
Originally mistaken as the entrance to Port Stephens, the modest seaside inlet was referred to as False Bay in the 19th Century. Although little has changed since, the destination has formally been named Fingal Heads. The sleepy little village has a general store and sandy beaches; it’s quaint, quiet and just the weekend escape you’ve been longing for.
North of Fingal, where NSW meets Queensland, you’ll find busy beaches and dozens of surfers riding the same wave, while just behind the Tweed River estuary, Fingal’s surf is highly respected and breaks will feel like your own. It’s far from populated and, as Susan Smith mentioned, “dolphins join in with the human surfers.” Magic.
Positioned on the southern head of the Tweed River, the fishing hamlet houses the 134-year-old Fingal Head Lighthouse, and today the short and stubby tower still operates. With an elevation of 24m, views towards Giant’s Causeway are impressive. Get there for either sunrise or sunset and take a roll of film.
This tiny town is so unknown it’s yet to reach the pages of Lonely Planet guidebooks or country atlas maps, so get there before the hordes. Simply take a sneaky left off the highway before crossing the Tweed River Bridge and there it lies. Take shelter and above all, slow down.
Other things to do:
- Visit Cook Island 500m offshore, originally named Turtle Island due to the large number of turtles found along the shores.
- There are loads of picnic spots, just find your own sanctuary and lay out your spread. Fingal Beach Park has BBQ facilities and a kiddie play area.
- Hire a boat, launch it from Fingal boat ramp and jet around the water for the day, (07) 5524 1868.
- The only little art gallery to visit is in the village (Flying Colours Art Gallery).
- Looking for nightlife? Head 5min north. Tweed is noted for its evening entertainment.
- Take a drive to Razorback Lookout. The views stretch over the Tweed Valley and Gold Coast.
Details: Fingal Heads
Contact: Tweed Heads visitor info centre, 1800 674 414
Where: Just 1km south of the Qld border.
Where to stay: Fingal Escape 1, (02) 66 745 888, only 100m from nearby beaches.
What to take: A big beach bag filled with cricket sets, beach bats and anything else that might entertain while beaching.
Did you know: The cliff edge you see from Fingal Lighthouse is Giant’s Causeway, named after a similar natural feature in Northern Ireland. Both Fingals were named after a mythological Celtic giant who tried to build a causeway over the ocean.