It’s hard to imagine someone who loves where they live more than Keri Algar loves NSW’s Tweed region. When she speaks about what drew her there, it’s almost as if she’s the reason for the phrase ‘eyes light up’. And, for someone who has seemingly lived everywhere, and done everything, that’s high praise indeed.

We acknowledge that these adventures and interviews took place on the traditional Country of the Bundjalung people who have occupied and cared for the lands, waters, and their inhabitants for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them as the Traditional Custodians and to Elders past, present and emerging.

Born in Madrid, Keri grew up splitting her time between Spain and New Zealand. After university, she became a diving instructor and taught all over the world including America, Mexico, and Indonesia.

‘After that, I spent a year or two on the Gold Coast, did a Masters in Journalism, and then spent a few years working in community relations in the Solomon Islands,’ she explains.

‘I also worked for the Commonwealth Games Queen’s Baton relay, travelling all across the world and Australia.’

Yet despite all of this, Keri found herself constantly called back to the Tweed, where she spent a lot of time in between her various travels and jobs. She now very happily calls Cabarita Beach home.


My Backyard: Turtle Swimming and Tipple Tasting on the Tweed,Brooke Nolan, drone shot, beach, coastline


‘I’ve been here for seven years so far, ‘ she says, smiling.

‘Which is five years longer than I’d really lived anywhere else. I just feel so at home here; it’s got that small-town feel like I had growing up in New Zealand, the natural environment is just extraordinary, and it has all the services and things you need without the oversaturation of the Gold Coast or Byron.’


At Home in The Tweed with Rum Distiller Keri Algar


Creating the Perfect Life in Caba

Since settling in Cabarita (or Caba as it’s affectionately known by locals) – which has always been Keri’s go-to location for a surf break – she’s crafted a life that connects all of her passions. She now works as a snorkelling instructor, a freelance journalist, and even started her own rum company.


My Backyard: Turtle Swimming and Tipple Tasting on the Tweed,Brooke Nolan, headland, person, beach, ocean


A typical day combines a bit of all of her endeavours, but almost always starts with a surf. ‘When I decided to settle down here, one of my caveats was that I wanted to live no more than a five minute walk from the beach,’ she says.

‘So, I’m really close to Caba, which I love. It’s easy to form connections here and you always see people you know.’

If the weather isn’t quite right for a surf, a stroll or bike ride to Hastings General Store for a bacon and egg roll is a close second favourite way to start the day. In fact, another of the things keeping Keri here is the unassuming yet impressive food scene.

‘We’ve got some pretty highly-rated hatted restaurants in the Tweed Shire,’ she says.

‘I love going to Potager which is this fantastic restaurant with its own kitchen garden. Everything is locally sourced and even the pottery is made in the Tweed. They’ve just been announced in Trip Advisor’s top 1% of restaurants worldwide. Not bad for a little restaurant in Carool!’

Snorkelling with Turtles at Joongurra-Ngarian

Of course, life isn’t all play and no work, and one of Keri’s jobs is working as a snorkelling instructor on Cook Island for Watersports Guru.


My Backyard: Turtle Swimming and Tipple Tasting on the Tweed,Brooke Nolan, person, turtle art,

Keri has made her passion her job


Although the Aboriginal name for Cook Island is ‘Joongurra-Ngarian’, which means ‘The Place Where The Pelicans Play’, it’s the turtles who steal the show. So yes, it’s work, but let’s face it, it’s no boring day in the office.


My Backyard: Turtle Swimming and Tipple Tasting on the Tweed,Brooke Nolan, turtle, underwater, reef

A turtle affectionally known as ‘Thumb’ near Cook Island


‘It’s a real hidden gem – people have no idea that there’s this real abundance of marine life and that it’s fairly pristine too,’ she says.

‘I’ve been snorkelling and diving all around the world, and on a good day this rivals anywhere I’ve been. It’s truly exceptional. And I pretty much guarantee that you’ll see a turtle. We usually see small pods of inshore bottlenose dolphins too.’

The Soltera Rum Story – Sipping on Sugarcane

Back at home, when Keri isn’t writing, she’s busy making her (and our) drinking-rum-on-a-tropical-island dreams come true. She launched Soltera Rum two years ago and has taught herself everything she needed to know.

‘I’ve always imagined ending up on the tropical island somewhere one day with a little rum bar by the beach, watching the sunset,’ Keri smiles.

And then I realised I live in a place where there’s sugar cane everywhere and there’s a sugar mill just up the road. Rum is made from molasses or sugar cane syrup, so I looked into it, and here we are.’


My Backyard: Turtle Swimming and Tipple Tasting on the Tweed,Brooke Nolan, rum, rum making, person

Keri uses local sugarcane to make her rum


Soltera is now stocked in numerous bars and restaurants, with the distilling process becoming an important part of how Kerri connects with the creative part of herself.

‘Making rum isn’t something I ever really envisioned but it’s actually really, really satisfying to produce something,’ she explained. 

‘Distilling is really interesting; it’s part science, and definitely part art. It’s really creative, and while it’s still a real learning curve, I love it.’

That rum bar dream has well and truly come true too, with Caba’s bar The Burrow stocking Keri’s creations. Sipping on a Caba Colada cocktail, as you listen to the ocean, or enjoy the ever-changing colours of a sunset, instantly gives you holiday vibes.


My Backyard: Turtle Swimming and Tipple Tasting on the Tweed,Brooke Nolan, cafe, shop, sign

You can sip on some of Keri’s rum at local bar, The Burrow


‘It could be a Tuesday afternoon in the middle of winter and it still feels like you’re on holiday,’ she says. ‘It’s a great place to visit on a Thursday too as there’s an open mic night, and everyone gets up and is super friendly and welcoming.’

From Coast to Hinterland, It’s All in The Tweed

A keen multi-day bushwalker, Keri will always try to get out for a stroll when she can, to clear her head and become more connected with nature, the community, and herself. Her favourite walks include the Fingal Headland Lighthouse Walk, where you’ll often see dolphins playing in the surf.


My Backyard: Turtle Swimming and Tipple Tasting on the Tweed,Brooke Nolan, drone shot, island, coastline


‘The walk up to Mount Cougal is pretty epic too,’ she says. ‘You hike along the NSW / QLD border – which in parts is literally a farm fence. You start through patches of sugarcane and tall grasses and as you climb you get into more rainforest.’

Despite travelling the world, Keri has managed to find a place to call home that effortlessly facilitates and fosters all of her passions, something that’s as rare as it is special

‘I often thought I’d have to live in Fiji, Hawaii or the Caribbean,’ Keri says.

‘But the Tweed has all the ingredients that you need, from mountain to coast, and everywhere in between. Nature inspires creativity and connection, and for me, without that, there’s no way I’d be able to do what I do.’