Last summer we asked Roam readers to nominate their favourite travel destinations and Coffs Harbor consistently came out on top of all Australia’s regional cities.
So what is it about Coffs (as the locals call it) that makes it so popular with visitors?
Without a doubt it is one of Australia’s great beachside cities and holiday destinations. Big enough to offer to offer a wide range of attractions only a city can, but small enough to be easy to get around and still be remarkably relaxed and friendly.
Located roughly half-way between Sydney and Brisbane, for many it’s a convenient stopover point on trips up and down the Pacific Highway. Those who take the time to venture off Highway One and spend some time exploring the region soon discover what makes it so special.
Lying between forested hills and sparkling blue waters, the Coffs Coast is a breathtaking tapestry of colour, encompassing quaint villages, national parks, mountain escarpments, and close to 100km of some of NSW’s best beaches.
Despite their popularity, you can nearly always find your own quiet and peaceful patch at any time of year. The city itself has everything a modern centre could offer including two superb shopping complexes. Coffs Harbour is a great base to stay and explore the wider region and its many natural attractions all located within a short drive.
Boasting a pleasant subtropical climate, you can enjoy the outdoors any time of year and there is something to see and do in every direction.
A popular and highly recommended day trip is to head to the historic town of Bellingen. The beautifully restored timber, stone and iron lace Hammond & Wheatley Emporium dominates the main street. Further along is the charming renovated country pub – the Federal Hotel. Bellingen is home to a large number of people who escaped the city to enjoy a laid-back alternative lifestyle and it buzzes with markets, cafés, and galleries. Continue a further half hour along the picturesque Waterfall Way to the tiny town Dorrigo. The Dorrigo National Park is home to some of NSW’s most spectacular scenery including waterfalls and a breathtaking lookouts.
Heading south of Coffs Harbour along the coast are a beautiful collection of sea-side villages, such as Boambee, Sawtell, Repton, Mylestom and Urunga, each surrounded in a unique natural environment. At Boambee enjoy the beautiful family-friendly reserve and creek as well as the headland offering views up the beach toward Muttonbird Island. In Sawtell you can play in the waters of Bonville Creek framed by Bongil Bongil National Park or picnic on the headland which looks 50 kilometres south. Repton and Mylestom offer a stunning natural entrance way to the Bellinger River for swimming and boating, and Urunga sits on the edge of the Kalang River and its tributry to the Pacific Ocean.
The Northern Beaches are a playground for swimming, surfing, boating or even walking. Highlights include Moonee Nature Reserve where you can take out a stand-up-paddleboard, go fishing up the creek or picnic waterside while the kids play in the water in front. Look at Me Now Headland at Emerald is a great spot to hang-out with the resident kangaroos, enjoy some whale watching or take in South Solitary Island with its lighthouse. Further up the coast at Red Rock is the Yarrawarra Aboriginal Cultural Centre, where you can try authentic bush tucker or take one of their many interactive tour experiences. Each beach stretching north from Coffs Harbour to Corindi offers something different, and the names give you a feel for what they might unveil – Sapphire Beach, Emerald Beach, Sandy Beach. Continue on and stories and cultures provide a fascinating mix, from Indian Sikh communities in Woolgoolga to traditional Gumbaynggirr Aboriginal elders in Corindi and Red Rock.
Off the Coffs Coast is the sparkling blue waters of the Solitary Island Marine Park, where warm tropical waters meet cooler temperate ocean currents from the south, creating an environment that is unique. olitary Islands Marine Park is home to over 550 species of fish, 90 species of coral and other amazing wild marine plants and animals, making it popular for snorkeling, diving and whale watching in season.