Shaded by giant old Poinciana trees and offering 180-degree views of Simpsons Creek (a picturesque tributary of the Brunswick River), Hotel Brunswick in the sleepy beachside town of Brunswick Heads has been a popular watering hole for decades since famed Queensland hotelier Jim Cavill built it in 1940. The combination of classic pub cuisine, shady beer garden and free Sunday music sessions has enabled Hotel Brunswick to retain much of its original charm while navigating the changing face of traditional Aussie pubs.
While late-night lockouts and one-punch laws seek to reform a beleaguered hospitality industry, this iconic North Coast pub is using music to engage the community and has featured music Thursday-Sunday for over 20 years, and some of the best local musicians and some well known acts travelling through appear here. While parking can be an issue, it's a favourite place for locals to grab a top quality pub meal in the spacious beer garden (although the food queue can get pretty frustrating on the weekends) and it's not cheap for a pub, considering you have to line up and answer a buzzer. The meals are really big (almost too big), with generous salads but it's hard to avoid the ubiquitious Aussie chips and they NEVER change the menu. The fish eaters praised the fish and its freshness, with schnapper being their regular special, and the vegetable korma is delicious if you're a vego. While you are paying pretty well top prices for drinks, there is a weekly pool comp, pub raffles, a gaming room, engaging historical photos on the walls, some nice touches like an old rowing boat in the beer garden for kids to play on, and very professional uniformed staff, with some very pretty girls behind the bar.
It has some traditional old style pub rooms up a beautiful timber a staircase, which are well priced and clean, and recently repainted and decorated. There are commanding views of the beer garden from the upostairs balcony. It's the "shared bathroom down the hall" type set up, but well priced at about $90 a double for an affordable holiday in the Byron Bay region. Very handy to the Byron Bay Blues Festival and Splendour in the grass.
The town of Brunswick Heads itself is laidback and only just starting to be gentrified. Quite a few nice breakfast cafes and a fantastic Lebanese Vegetarian cafe called Yamis just around the corner from the pub. The Starfish Cafe does great takeaway seafood which you can eat in the park overlooking the river. There's also a fantastic Fishing Co-Op for fresh fish and classic fish and chips a couple of blocks from the hotel. Torakina Beach just across the bridge form the pub is a fantastic swimming spot if you have a young family, while teenagers love jumping off the bridge into the river. There is a top surfing beach just a few hundred metres away and it's great for long walks in the sunset. You can get there by a footbridge across the river and there is a patrolled section.