Imagine staying at a holiday park where you can catch mangrove jacks from the park’s back retaining wall, bream from the boat ramp or whiting, flathead and jew from a boat in the adjoining river channel. Well, a stay at the Tweed River Hacienda Holiday Park at Chinderah puts you in the box seat for all of these activities.
As a young bloke I used to fish in the Tweed River at Chinderah. Whiting were our main target but sometimes my grandfather would put out a very small whiting and, on his cord handline, catch a big mangrove jack. We caught flathead and whiting regularly in those days and my trips to the clean-running Tweed River were really special.
Needless to say, I was excited about returning to this part of the Tweed and was pleased to see that it looked just as inviting as it did when we used those cord handlines on cylinders of cork. Looking at anglers launching their boats at the ramp in the Hacienda Holiday Park, I realised that even though long, fine rods with spinning or side-cast reels loaded with braid or fine mono have long taken the place of cord lines, the fish they seek are the same.
All you need to enjoy the fishing here is a comfortable base, and the Tweed River Hacienda Holiday Park certainly provides this. Once you are settled in the park, it’s really easy to fish the river or one of the nearby surf beaches or headlands. All of these spots can be quite productive during the day or at night.
The park is located on Chinderah Bay Drive, opposite the intersection with Waugh Street. If you are travelling north on the Pacific Highway, take the Waugh Street exit. If you are travelling south, exit left into Tweed Coast/Chinderah/Kingscliff access road straight after crossing the bridge on the Tweed River. Then, at the first roundabout turn left. The Tweed River Hacienda Holiday Park will be on the right around 900m south. It has a prominent sign out the front and is hard to miss.
On arrival, I received a warm welcome from Helen and Chrissy at reception. Beside the reception area, there is a store where you can stock up on basic grocery items, and inside the park you will find a wide range of options.
There are luxury riverside villas, along with river and ensuite sites (with your own a toilet and shower) for both tents and caravans. Visitors who want river access for easy fishing can certainly have just that, as there are quite a few sites just back from the water. Judging by the number of boats in the park when I was there, people were definitely making the most of the great fishing in the Tweed River.
The amenities at Hacienda Holiday Park were clean and there is a large, well set out BBQ area. Beside the level, grassy area for tents is the park’s boat ramp. This fairly wide concrete ramp is a handy adjunct and it’s set up in a half hectare sized side harbour off the main river. Anglers returning with a feed of fish for dinner can use the cleaning table next to the ramp.
Other useful features include a swimming pool next to the reception area, wide roads and decent shade trees throughout the park.
Mangrove jacks were the main target fish when I visited in late summer, and the visiting anglers I spoke to had been enjoying some success following a fresh in the river. Livebait was the way to go, with those soaking small diver whiting, mullet or herring having the best results.
Anglers were also doing well with whiting from the park’s back wall, and while some of these fish were caught during the day, most of the really big ones were taken at night. The trick to catching big whiting is to use a soft tipped rod, as small a sinker as will hold bottom if there is current, a trace around a metre long and a nice fresh blood or beach worm on a size 4 hook. The line needs to be light – 6lb braid or mono is ideal. I recommend heaving the bait out and leaving it alone. When the rod starts to buck and the reel wants to run, you have probably hooked a big whiting or bream. If you cast and retrieve continually, all that will be taken is a smaller class of fish, as the big blokes like to find it themselves and feel confident in taking the bait.
Anglers seeking some sportfishing on the bream gear should have fun within the Tweed River. There are heaps of mangroves, snags and oyster leases in which to use small plastics and fine braid. Those who are looking for some rock fishing can try the southern wall of the river or perhaps go to Fingal Head just a few kilometres to the east.
Finally, if you want a break from the fishing, there are lots of clubs and shops, both at Tweed Heads and Coolangatta, which is only a short drive away. For those who love to laze on the beach, there are loads of surf beaches no further than a 20-minute drive away from the park.
For more information, contact the Tweed River Hacienda Holiday Park on (02) 6674 1245.Reads: 1941