Hideaway: Hillcrest Mountain View Retreat
Looking for a real getaway from it all? North American
travelers can't get much further away than Australia, which offers a continent
full of romantic escapes including one found in the Tweed Valley, 90 minutes
from Brisbane. We interviewed Tracy and Clive Parker, owners of the Hillcrest
Mountain View Retreat, a two-suite luxury B&B, and a cottage,
for their tips for romantic travelers to this region.
What special aspects of your region make it particularly
attractive to romantic travelers?
Although its only a 90-minute drive from Brisbane and within a five-minute
drive of Gold Coast airport, the Tweed Shire is relatively unheard of
by large tourist markets in favour of our two more famous neighbours,
Byron Bay and the Gold Coast. Although we are tucked in between these
two more well-known destinations, the Tweed is completely different from
both in terms of natural beauty, peace and romance.
The Tweed region is truly the jewel in the crown of the Northern
Rivers region as its nestled in the worlds largest extinct
shield volcano, has the largest sub-tropical rainforest remnant and is
the most bio-diverse region in Australia. Many people think of Kakadu
in the Northern Territory as the most bio-diverse and are amazed to learn
that, in fact, its the Tweed that carries that title.
A favourite proposal site is Mt. Warning (photo, right),
one of five World Heritage Listed National Parks in the area and the eroded
central plug of the 250,000-acre volcano. Its widely believed that
Mt Warning is the spot where the dawn sun first touches Australia, so
many people climb it before dawn to be at the summit to watch the first
rays of a new morning sun with their Beloved.
The Tweed is also home to some of the best surf beaches in Oz. The coastal
region is dotted with small towns and villages with quaint cafes and restaurants.
Recently world class resorts such as the Peppers group have built along
the coast, however if you prefer fewer people and less development, the
hinterland is still untouched by big developers and we plan to keep it
So whether your preference is for resorts and beaches or
hinterland valleys with mountains, quaint villages, galleries, arts, crafts
and award winning romantic retreats, the Tweed has something to satisfy
all tastes and pockets.
What the best time of year to
visit your region?
As a semi tropical region, the Tweed also has a climate
to suit all tastes depending on the time of year.
Summer can be hot and humid with temperatures in the late
20s to mid 30s - Celcius that is, which is the measurement
used in Australia - and afternoon summer storms. In summer its best
to plan your day for an early start, late lunch followed by a siesta.
Then once the storm has passed and cooled things down you can re-emerge
to enjoy a warm summer evening. Of course if youre staying at Hillcrest
the hottest day wont worry you as we are fully air-conditioned through-out,
with hammocks and pool, summer is the time to sip on champagne and dangle
your toes in the water before your massage or silk pamper session.
Autumn and winter are my favourite times of year
particularly from March to July as the bite has gone out of the sun and
the humidity drops when the summer storms cease but the country-side is
still lush and green. By April the nights are getting a bit chilly by
local standards, but day-time temperatures still average 25C which means
log fires at night and t-shirts and shorts during the day.
Winter is cool and dry. The country-side has lost its lush
look to us locals, but to people from outside the area it still looks
green and appealing. Day-times can drop to a chilly 5C in the early morning
but usually get to at least 18 or 19C during the day, frequently as high
as 25C. Winter is a time to enjoy energetic activities such as climbing
Mt Warning, horse-riding, golf and tennis as you dont have to confine
yourself to early morning or late afternoons to exert yourself.
By October, sometimes earlier, Spring is in the air. Calves are being
born and the deciduous trees are pushing out buds and flowers. Temperatures
are pretty much the same as in Winter, with the odd warmer day to let
you know Summer is coming.
Are there any local festivals or special events
of special interest to romantic travelers?
There are many festivals and events held in the Tweed throughout the year,
from the Kingscliffe "Art, Food and All That Jazz" festival
in May, the Wintersun Rock and Roll Festival in June and the Banana Festival
Street Parade in August, to the Murwillumbah Agricultural Show in November
to name a few. However the most spectacular "not to be missed"
event on the Tweed calendar would have to be the annual Festival of Speed
on Tweed held every year during the third weekend in September.
One for classic car buffs, Speed on Tweed is a classic car race held through
the streets of Murwillumbah the third weekend in September by day and
street parties, music and entertainment by night. However you don't have
to love classic cars to thoroughly enjoy the music and entertainment during
Saturday nights' "Street Extravaganza", when the high street
is closed to traffic and becomes a giant street restaurant with stages
placed at various points and "strolling" players such as members
of the Queensland Opera Company moving from stage to stage throughout
Also in September is the Tyalgum Festival of Classical Music - held in
the "acoustically perfect" Tyalgum Town Hall with internationally
famous musicians in attendance every year. Diners are entertained by a
variety of performers, in 2005 revellers were treated to "Opera on
Main" performed by members of Opera Queensland and Vavachi Classic
Pretend you are a couple visiting your property
for the first time. What would you plan for your special weekend?
For a special occasion or honeymoon either Hillcrest Cottage or the main
house Spa Suite would be my venue of choice. Depending on length of stay
I would definitely organise a massage for each of us on the same day as
we had booked the fairy-lit gazebo for a romantic candle-lit dinner.
A trip to Natural Arch after dinner to see Australia's largest glow-worm
colony would be followed next day by a scenic joy-flight around the Mt
Warning summit in Barnstorming Australia's replica Super Waco bi-plane.
The next day I'd choose a full day rainforest tour with OutnBack Tours
who would collect me from Hillcrest at 8:15am for a private, individually
designed full day tour of the best the region has to offer whilst avoiding
the "tourist trails" and more crowded places.
Owen, our expert guide would prepare and serve our Aussie
BBQ lunch, before continuing our tour and delivering us safely back to
Hillcrest by about 4:30pm in time for a swim and perhaps a "Silk
Hands and Feet Pamper Package. This is just what I would choose
personally, however we have extensive local knowledge, a range of on-site
information, maps and brochures and will gladly help our guests choose
the best things to see and do in our beautiful region during their stay
What are some of the most unique and romantic
aspects of your property?
Hillcrest is a small, owner-operated private retreat catering for a maximum
of only 3 couples at any one time - two couples in a private guest wing
of the Main House B&B and one couple in our fully self contained Cottage
set in its own private, secluded garden. Both the main house and the Cottage
are fully air-conditioned so comfort is assured on even the warmest summer
In addition to the peace and privacy as Hillcrest is on 5 acres on the
top of a hill in the middle of a 200 acre farm, Hillcrest guests enjoy
spectacular views from Mt Warning to the rainforests of Springbrook Ranges,
as well as a solar heated salt-water pool, luxury double spa baths, massage,
wood fire, split system air-conditioning and jolly good food
Whilst you feel like youre in the middle of nowhere
Hillcrest is centrally located to a range of beauty spots and activities
including golf, horse-riding, BMW bike tours, Super Waco Bi-plane joy-flights,
galleries, markets, national parks and more. So at Hillcrest you can laze
by the pool, sip champagne in a hammock, enjoy peace and privacy in spectacular
surroundings with top of the range furnishings and facilities, whilst
being close to "things to see and do" if you prefer a more active
Do you host weddings at your property? Is it
difficult for foreigners to get married there?
Hillcrest is not insured for and so does not permit children on the property.
Therefore we have found it impractical to cater for weddings. However
we would be prepared to discuss the possibility of a very small wedding
with no children in attendance.
Photos courtesy Hillcrest Mountain View Retreat