Nicola Walker finds a mix that satisfies all tastes on the Tweed Coast.
We were going to go to the Hyatt Regency Coolum as usual for a quick break from the Sydney chill, but then a friend suggested Peppers at Kingscliff on the Tweed Coast. It doesn't have a kids' club and doesn't offer archery or golf, but it does have a huge, outdoor, heated, lagoon-style pool that's warm enough to keep the children swimming no matter what the weather.
Guests can reserve an apartment in either Peppers Salt or Peppers Bale Salt. When I phone the nice lady at reservations and ask what the difference is, she says Bale is more spacious. She's quite right. For not much extra, our two-bedroom apartment is giddily big and has a good kitchen, laundry and a main bathroom to wallow in. The kids can almost swim in the spa bath. There's a large terrace with a view of the sea, too, though this is possible only from the third-floor apartments. Those at ground level look over the quiet ring road that links Peppers with Salt Village, a row of restaurants opposite. In between the two is what's billed as "Salt Central Park", a three-hectare green space with a small playground and barbecues. When the trees grow, it will be prettier.
And then we ate A friendly staff member wheels our breakfast tray to the terrace dead on time, and instead of wrestling with our toddler in the busy restaurant buffet, we get to eat still-hot omelets and a vast fruit platter in relative peace. We call friends who live nearby and after discussing places to eat in town, we decide to have dinner at Season, the in-house restaurant. Reception organises a babysitter for us at short notice and she's cheerfully capable.
We have great service and good food, including a dish of local Bangalow pork. Two of us go for the $45 two-course special and can't resist dessert as well, which requires a sauterne. The next evening, we have takeaway fish and chips from Salt Village. I order grilled, which is a bit dry, but the rest is fine.
The deal maker The lagoon pool at Peppers Salt is the drawcard for parents with youngish kids. It has a little sand beach and pool toys. You can buy drinks and snacks at the nearby bar and towels are provided. Our Bale apartment block has its own heated pool, which is perfect for laps and couples wanting tranquillity. There's a tennis court, plenty of bicycles to hire and a network of cycle paths beside the sea. We ride to Kingscliff; there are playground stops along the way and good coffee to be had in town.
Stepping out Mount Warning is a short drive away and has a glorious walking track to the summit. However, we take the 15-minute trail into the forest of the lower slopes, which is damp, vibrant and awesome, as rainforests tend to be. Then we visit nearby Uki, where time appears to have stopped in the late 1960s: on market Saturday there are hippies in kaftans and beads, a bush band, the waft of hooch and coffee served in mugs, with home-made carrot cake. Fabulous. We finish at the Tweed River Art Gallery, taking in broad views of the valley and block printing for kids. The cafe is excellent and fortifies us for the pretty riverside drive back to Kingscliff.
Weekends Away are reviewed anonymously and paid for by Traveller.
Peppers Salt Resort & Spa
Address Bells Boulevard, Kingscliff.
The verdict Contemporary, family-friendly resort with good-natured staff.
Price From $889 for a three-night weekend in a two-bedroom apartment at Salt; from $1250 for a three-night weekend at Bale Salt. Includes breakfast.
Bookings Phone 1300 737 444; see peppers.com.au.
Getting there Kingscliff is about 800 kilometres north of Sydney. Jetstar and Virgin fly to Gold Coast Airport; Kingscliff is a 20-minute drive south.
Perfect for Everyone, with the two apartment blocks, Salt and Bale Salt, offering good amenities. Note that you can only use both pools if you stay at Bale Salt.
Wheelchair access Yes, but only at Salt.
While you're there Ride a bicycle along the seaside paths; swim in the lagoon and lunch poolside. Tackle Mount Warning. Breathe in the atmosphere of market Saturdays. Admire the art deco architecture of Bangalow. Drive to the lighthouse at Byron Bay. Nip into beautiful nearby Wategos Beach and eat at Rae's Fish Cafe.