A Family Favourite!
Like most people, I remember quite fondly the family camping trips of my youth. There was something really exciting about the end of school term and knowing that soon my family and I would be heading to our favourite holiday hotspot, the great thing was it was only an hours north of home but it never felt like we were ‘just up the road’- home could have been several hours away for all we cared!
It was the mid 90’s when my family first started visiting the small coastal village of Wooli (NSW). Only 50kms from Grafton and around 100kms from our home town of Coffs Harbour. We were lucky enough that Coffs Harbour itself was a great place to live, so a holiday anywhere would have to be something pretty special for it to impress. Well, Wooli proved again and again, year after year that it did offer that ‘something special’ for a family camping holiday. We became ‘regulars’ at the local caravan park, even booking the same river front campsite year after year.
I want to share with you what makes Wooli so special to us and why so many other families love coming to this part of the world. I want to point out that Wooli isn’t a very big town and is home to numerous beach shacks and holiday homes. One thing we have gladly noticed over the last 15 or so years is that the town hasn’t changed or grown too much, it has proudly kept its humble charm, to which we are very thankful.
For a town so small, it sure does offer quite a lot. Its unique location on the northern fringes of the Solitary Island Marine Park makes it a fisherman’s paradise and to top it off it’s located on the mouth of the Wooli Wooli River which also offers great fishing for Bream, Blackfish and Flathead and is very popular with smaller boats and people who prefer fishing from the river banks. And I can’t forget to mention the mud crabs that can be found in the mangroves either side of the river. Fun to catch- Even better to eat!
A welcoming attribute that makes family holidays to Wooli so popular is that entertaining the kids doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. Mainly because most of the activities are FREE and are provided by the natural beauty of the area. There is a great small protected beach area perfect for the little ones near the mouth of the river along with several BBQ and picnic areas, the main beach is 4wd accessible and of course fishing is a favourite for all ages and that’s a pretty cheap activity too. Our favourite caravan park in Wooli offers a lot for the kids including a resort style swimming pool, jumping pillow, playground, cheap mini golf and FREE hire of canoes and kayaks. Honestly, you could come for a week’s holiday and would not even have to leave the caravan park at all (except to buy some fresh oysters or seafood in town of course).
Only a few minutes’ drive back out on the main road is the turn off to another great little seaside village- Minnie Water. Very similar in holiday atmosphere to Wooli but a little more beach orientated. As kids we used to pack our snorkelling gear and head to Minnie Water to snorkel around the rocks near the boat launching area. We would often team up with other families staying in the park and make a day of it. The whole area is surrounded by the Yuragir National Park so you do need to be careful of the wildlife; especially emu’s which are often seen wandering the street.
The boat launching area at Minnie Water is also perfect for launching larger boats as an alternative to Wooli as the river entrance at Wooli can sometimes be challenging to cross.
Every October long weekend the village of Wooli comes alive as it hosts the annual ‘Goanna Pulling’ championships. This quirky sport, although taken very seriously by its competitors is a real treat to watch. Imagine two people on their hands and knees with a big rubber band around their necks connecting them whilst playing a serious and competitive game of tug-o-war. This event has really helped put Wooli on the map. As a part of the Goanna Pulling event other activities during the long weekend include wood chopping, various rides, stalls and displays and people travel from afar just to enjoy the festivities- but be warned it’s very popular so I would suggest booking your accommodation in advance!
We really hope that most of you can get the opportunity to visit Wooli at least once. There aren’t too many towns left like Wooli where everything is so easy going and at your doorstep where keeping the kids busy won’t break the bank and invites them to be active. We look forward to being able to carry on the tradition of family camping holidays with our kids. We may even give ‘Goanna Pulling’ a go ourselves one day.