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Meet the icon: Tweed region

Discover the food of New South Wales

Meet the icon: Tweed region
Image: Getty

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The Aussies have got it too good. Not only is New South Wales an enviable mix of epic beaches, vineyards, expansive national parks, and home to one of the greatest cities on Earth. Its foodie scene is staggering, too.

There are thousands of restaurants spread throughout the state… and they’re not all in Sydney. With a rich natural larder — we’re talking bounteous olive groves, orchards, vineyards and farms — you’ll always eat exceptionally well.

Spend just a few days here and you’ll quickly realise New South Wales is home to some truly memorable eating destinations. The Tweed region — on the far NSW north coast — really pushes its culinary limits and should be on any foodie’s radar right now. Across its villages, quiet estuaries and pretty beaches lies many eateries fuelling hungry locals, from chic cafes with excellent coffee and modern hangouts dishing up regional comfort food, to innovative new venues with big flavours and inventive menus.

Here you can catch your own mud crabs or snapper from Tweed River and have them cooked before your eyes on a fishing boat in the wilderness of the verdant Tweed Valley. Dine at the Tweed Gallery Café in the Tweed Regional Gallery and Margaret Olley Art Centrein Murwillumbah, venture out on tours at localbeer brewery, Stone and Wood and try inventive colour-changing gins at Husk Distillers. 

Alternatively, stroll seawards to one of the seaside towns, where suntanned and sandy beachgoers slope off to restaurants for just-caught seafood and a local rosé; it’s a nifty spot to gaze at passers-by and prod locals about where to head to for your next meal. You’ll go up a belt size on a trip to the Tweed region… but it’ll be worth it.

Meet the person behind the icon: Ben Devlin, head chef at Paper Daisy at Halcyon House

So the Tweed Region, what’s it all about?
The area around Tweed Heads and down to Byron Bay is shaped by the caldera left over from the Wollumbin mountain volcano. This leaves the area with some fantastic geographic quirks to explore and helps us to grow and create some amazing fruits and vegetables which you can experience at the range of farmers’ markets on most days of the week.

What does the Tweed Region mean to you?
I’m currently the chef at a boutique hotel and restaurant in the region, and I was born here. I left to learn more about cooking and travel, but this position has fortuitously brought me back. Paper Daisy is a great spot to watch the waves and snack on prawns.

What makes it so iconic?
We’re in a very lucky position — we’re easy to get to but feel a million miles from major cities. You can climb Mt Wollumbin and explore rainforest one day, take a trip through beautiful hinterland towns another, and spend a day at a deserted beach the next. Everything is within a reasonable distance.

Tell us something unexpected
Probably the differences in climate that you can experience in small stretches of the area as a result of the geological formations.

Like this? Try these…

Surry Hills, Sydney
The hipster HQ of Sydney, Surry Hills, has some serious swagger when it comes to the creative and foodie scene, with new exciting additions popping up every week: gallery spaces-cum-arty cafes rub shoulders with speakeasies, whilst trendsetting supper clubs, contemporary kitchens and glossy new restaurants are all leading the way on the city’s culinary map.

South Coast Oyster Trail, South Coast
Drive south of Sydney on this road trip that meanders past beautiful wineries, pretty rural towns and soul-stirring beaches. Oyster farms are sprinkled across its lakes, rivers and the ocean, and these briny stars of the sea can be picked up — fresh in the shell, loaded with lemon or cooked and served with a dusting of garlic — in kitchens along the route.

Byron Bay
The hippy beach town may have had a bit of a polish, but its commitment to farm-to-fork fixtures and interesting new food trends is still going strong, whether you pick up picnic supplies from Byron Farmers’ Market, stop by for raw desserts in local cafes, or book into the latest restaurant-of-the-moment with a globally inspired menu.

How to do it

Fly to Sydney with Singapore Airlines from £765pp return. Singapore Airlines offers four daily flights from London Heathrow and five flights a week from Manchester with seamless connections via Singapore. singaporeair.com