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When the northerly winds whip up stinging sand and blow in the bluebottles – or if it’s too hot to sit in the intense summer sun – it’s best to head west. From cool waterfall pools to refreshing lakes, pack up the swim bag and enjoy nature’s own family splash zones. By Josie Sargent

Killen Falls GPS: 38 Killen Falls Dr, Tintenbar Amenities: Public carpark, composting public toilet and a bin at the trail head The walk down to Killen starts on an open, flat path and quickly turns into a steep scramble – but it is only 330m which is manageable for even the littlest of legs. Emerging from the forest, the waterfalls and the pool below appear like something from a fairytale. Depending on the time of year, the falls can be a powerful tumble or a whispering trickle. Behind them is something truly special - a cave, hidden behind the waterfall to explore. Ancient fig trees crowd the pool’s edge, making it refreshingly cool even on the hottest summer days. To keep the adventure going, a little further downstream is another swimming pool to venture into.

Don’t forget: footwear like sandals/thongs to walk easily on rocks; boards/rings for the kids to float on to avoid awkwardly navigating over large submerged rocks in shallow water; thick towels/cushions to sit comfortably on the rocks (there isn’t any grass/soft sitting option); wetsuits as the water can be chilly

Cudgera Creek GPS: Hastings Point Foreshore (on Tweed Coast Rd) Amenities: Public carpark, public toilets (but they are a trek from the playground); bins With the beach to the east and a national park to the west, the mouth of Cudgera Creek at Hastings Point is a pretty spot that offers calm waters for little ones (including a lot of fun shallow pools at low tide) but with the promise of adventure for older kids. A swim across the creek on the eastern side of the bridge offers sand dunes to roll down. Water can be fast moving when the tides are changing, so a body board for older ones offers some low-level water rafting style adrenaline, and, for the truly brave, a jump off the bridge is a rite of passage (just make sure the tide is high and there are adult spotters in the water). Don’t forget: Picnic blanket (as the tables can get busy); cabana/beach umbrella as there isn’t a lot of shade

Tea Tree Lake

GPS: MacGregor Street, Suffolk Park Amenities: On street parking; no public toilets/showers; no bins For the adventurous family, pack a picnic and head off to explore the dark waters of the Tea Tree Lake, nestled behind Byron’s Tallows Beach. Park on MacGregor Street in Suffolk Park and head onto the beach. From there, walk south towards Broken Head for about 500m until you find a small river. Follow that river inland and you will discover the Tea Tree Lakes, with their distinctive dark water similar to its more famous cousin, Lake Ainsworth in Lennox Head. There is plenty of sand to settle on and the water is calm. The tea trees that leach tannins into the water and turn it the colour of cola crowd the lake’s edge and it’s truly serene – there is not a building in sight. Tea tree is known for its antiseptic quality and is used to treat skin conditions like acne and eczema so a dip here is like a free beauty treatment for the whole family. Don’t forget: Floatation vests/boards for younger kids; brightly coloured rash shirts to easily spot kids as they swim in the dark waters

Torakina Beach GPS: Torakina Beach, Brunswick Heads Amenities: Public parking; public toilets; showers While Simpsons Creek is a summer favourite in Bruns, with older kids jumping off Brunswick Heads Bridge, the real gem is Torakina Beach. Just east of the bridge, this is where Simpsons Creek meets the Brunswick River as it flows into the sea. The gentle waves that lap the sand are perfect for tiny groms just starting out on their first body boards. The crystal-clear water and sea walls on both sides offer great snorkelling for beginners but be mindful of fast flowing tides. There is plenty of shade at the back of the beach too, but spots are snapped up fast as Torkina is only about 150m long. Don’t forget: Snorkel mask (and noodles) to admire the fish along the walls; body boards

Currumbin Rock Pools (and Cougal Cascade) GPS: Currumbin Creek Rock Pools; Cougal Cascade Car Park Amenities: Public parking; public toilets; Currumbin Rock Pools also has a public BBQ, picnic tables and shelters and showers Nestled in the lush Currumbin Valley, just a short hop across the border into Queensland, is the Currumbin Rock Pools. There are gentle falls and pools to play in, rocks to jump off and plenty of shallow water for paddling. A large grassy area, bordered by figs and camphor laurels, offers shade and sun options, to lay out a picnic blanket around the main pool’s edge. Beware the eels that can become territorial and, although harmless, they are known to nip. To escape the summer crowds and for a bit more nature and adventure, continue west along Currumbin Creek Road to Cougal Cascades. Here, a paved walkway follows the creek, with plenty of pools to choose from, logs to clamber over and falls to slide down. Don’t forget: Shoes to walk on rocks; floatation devices; insect spray


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