The Coffs Coast, NSW


Where the mountains meet the sea!

Next time when you find yourself pondering possible destinations for your next holiday, family camping trip or weekend break away, keep the fabulous Coffs Coast in mind.

Diggers Beach V1Coffs Harbour is located approximately 550km north of Sydney and 430km south of Brisbane and recently the CSIRO named Coffs Harbour as having the worlds “most liveable” climate. No wonder so many people are choosing this area to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. From rolling hills to unspoilt sandy beaches and don’t forget great shopping, the Coffs Coast offers so much for all members of the family.

For many, holidays are not just about relaxing, they are about getting out and seeing and doing interesting things…Coffs Harbour has a fantastic variety of tourist attractions and activities, from tranquil horse rides through lush rainforests to adrenalin filled adventures. Whatever you’re craving the Coffs Coast has it!

Let’s start our tour with one of Australia’s most photographed icons and one of Australia’s first “big things”- THE BIG BANANA!!

The Big Banana V2Built in 1964 and measuring 11m long and 5m high, the Big Banana was originally the site of a roadside banana stall where the owner decided to erect the structure near his business to encourage passing traffic to stop and visit his stall- what a marketing strategy!! It sure did get people stopping, and they have been stopping there ever since. Over the years, the Big Banana has changed and grown into a popular family tourist attraction. The kids will be entertained for hours as they burn off their energy as they “cut up” the ice at the ice skating rink or experience the thrill of the 650m Toboggan ride. Other activities include a water slide, a visit to the candy kitchen where you can watch the candy being made onsite, the “World of Bananas” educational theatre show and a visit to the well-stocked gift shop. And what trip to the world’s biggest banana would be complete without sampling a scrumptious banana split, frozen chocolate banana or an authentic banana smoothie?

Allow a full day for your family to experience the Big Banana. I would suggest taking advantage of the “Big Bunch of Fun” value pass which gives you access to a range of activities at a discounted price. Bring your What’s Up Downunder Travel Saver card too for even further value. This place would have to be our family’s favourite attraction and we reckon you will love it too.

Dangar Falls DorrigoIf something a little more relaxing is your style, the Coffs Coast plays host to some great scenic drives. Visit places like the sea-side town of Urunga to the south and enjoy fish and chips by the river. Visit Bellingen and Dorrigo to the west or Woolgoolga to the north for a cultural experience to remember. All are only a short drive from the Coffs CBD with each town offering its own quirky charm. A lovely drive is to the newly revitalised Sealy lookout which offers spectacular views of the city with a lush rainforest and plenty of bush walks nearby.

Pack your fishing rod and book a deep-sea fishing charter and spend the day chasing snapper or wet a line off the jetty or rock walls in and around the marina precinct. Spend a few hours checking out the surfing beaches, go for a swim or take a stroll up Muttonbird Island for breath taking 360 degree views of the Coffs Coast, which is a perfect solution for burning off all those extra calories after you scoff down an ice cream from the Ice Creamery at the marina. Select from a great range of home-made ice cream flavours, sundaes and milkshakes. My favourite is the mars bar flavour or the rum & raisin! You won’t be disappointed.

Dolphin Kiss - Dolphin Marine MagicOur next stop brings us to Dolphin Marine Magic (formerly the Pet Porpoise Pool), a winner of numerous tourism awards. Be educated and entertained whilst taking part in an interactive Seal and Dolphin marine presentation. Take an opportunity to get up close and personal with the friendly Dolphins and seals for a kiss on the cheek- bring your camera. Feed the turtles, penguins, fish and port Jackson sharks- You will love it! The best thing about this place is that it’s so “hands-on”.

Originally established as a marine animal rescue and rehabilitation centre, Dolphin Marine Magic is one of only a few places in Australia that has a license to display the animals in their care for educational purposes, marine awareness and entertainment. So next time you are in Coffs Harbour a visit here will be one to remember.

BBQ lunch at UrungaIf you consider yourself an adrenalin junkie and are seeking an activity that gets your blood pumping make sure you bring your four wheel drive or mountain bike. Head a few minutes west of town and challenge yourself on a few of the many bush tracks that weave their way through the hinterland. Look into joining a tag along tour and experience the places that only the locals know about.

If that is not enough hire a go kart and burn some rubber at the Raleigh raceway, go skydiving, take your family for some combative fun and try paint balling or pack your scuba gear and explore the deep blue amongst the Solitary Island Marine Park.

If you want to slow things down a little, enjoy a paddle along the Coffs creek in a canoe or slap a ball around at the popular Bonville International Golf Club. Like I said before, there is PLENTY for everyone!

Our short tour of the Coffs Coast ends at Coffs Harbour Butterfly House Maze and Tea Rooms. Spread your wings in an all-weather rainforest where you will encounter hundreds of live Australian Butterflies. Tour guides are on hand to share fascinating facts and secrets about the butterflies and their life cycle. Visit the onsite Wood Turning Gallery where you can browse for that perfect gift or souvenir or try and lose yourself in their giant maze. The butterfly house is a great hit with the kiddies as they love being able to get up close with these beautiful creatures. A fun and educational activity that’s a little “out of the box”.

The Coffs Coast generously caters for people seeking some retail therapy. With 3 large shopping precincts, the Coffs Coast shopping experience will keep you busy browsing the hundreds of specialty shops, gift shops and major variety stores like KMART, BigW, Target and of course a huge range of home wares, electrical warehouses and special interest shops.

Coffs Harbour Fishermans Co-Op V1Tempt your taste buds at one of the many restaurants, cafes, snack bars or take away shops- they are everywhere here on the Coffs Coast! You will be spoilt for choice. Select from gourmet pizzas, Chinese, Indian, Thai, Italian or Mexican cuisines, a steakhouse meal or just a good old fashioned pub dinner.

 I don’t know about you but whenever we are visiting a coastal town we always feel the urge for a good feed of fish and chips or fresh seafood- it must be something to do with being close to the sea. If you have a love of fresh seafood like I do make sure you visit the Fisherman’s Co-Op at the Coffs marina. Here you can purchase from a selection of fresh, locally caught fish, prawns, local oysters, lobsters and crabs. Buy it and cook it yourself or have the onsite takeaway shop cook it for you or order off their mouth-watering menu for a perfect lunch by the sea. We always get the fisherman’s basket- a bit of EVERYTHING!

Other great activities to consider during your visit to the Coffs Coast are:

  • Ten pin Bowling

  • Go Whale Watching

  • Take a camel ride on the beach

  • Visit the Clog Barn for a real “Dutch” experience

  • Catch the latest movie at the cinema

  • Hire a jet ski

  • Visit the Honey Place at Urunga and sample some delicious honey

  • Stroll the botanical gardens

  • Visit the weekend markets

  • Visit art and craft galleries

  • Take a tour of the Bunker cartoon gallery

  • Have a game of Lawn Bowls

And plenty more…..Why would you want to go anywhere else?

There are oodles of accommodation options on the Coffs Coast ranging from very plush, fancy resorts to budget motel style accommodation. But, like thousands of visitors to the Coffs Coast each year why not bring your caravan, camper or motorhome and stay at one of the many caravan parks in or around the city. We love staying at the conveniently located BIG 4 Emerald Beach Holiday Park only 15 minutes north of Coffs Harbour. We like this park because of its location close to a stunning beach, it has modern facilities and the sites are nice and roomy- great for when the kids need their space to play. They offer drive through sites, a school holiday kids program and a year-round heated swimming pool, Swedish sauna, go karts and a jumping pillow to name a few things. Put your feet up and relax!

It’s just not possible to try and showcase what this wonderful area has to offer on just a few pages in a magazine- I really do suggest you visit the area yourself and find out just what all the fuss is about. When you get here do yourself a favour and call into the tourist information centre and speak with one of the friendly and very knowledgeable staff who can assist you in finding out about the area and making sure you get the most out of your stay.

Useful Links:

Dolphin Marine Magic

65 Orlando Street
Coffs Harbour

Phone 1300 547 737

The Big Banana

351 Pacific Hwy
Coffs Harbour

Phone (02) 66 524 355

Coffs Harbour Butterfly House, Maze and Tearooms

5 Strouds Road

Phone 02 6653 4766

BIG 4 Emerald Beach Holiday Park

73 Fisherman’s Drive
Emerald Beach

Phone 1800 681 521

Discover Coffs Coast

Coffs Coast Visitor Information Centre

Phone 1300 369 070

Cnr McLean St & Pacific Hwy

Coffs Harbour

Coffs Harbour International Marina

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As per Whats Up Downunder Magazine Issue #4