From the rainforest escarpments of Dorrigo to the golden beaches stretching from Scotts Head to Woolgoolga to the blue waters of the Solitary Islands Marine Park is the Coffs Coast region. It is a place of precious natural beauty with a gentle, temperate climate.
How you discover and enjoy the region is up to you. Tour along the coast for maritime scenery and seaside towns, divert inland for quiet country lanes, farm-fields and historic villages or stay put with feet up for some pampering, rest and relaxation..
For the more energetic, take a short-walk in a national park among cathedral-like World Heritage forests, or through open coastal heath or along the dunes and Pacific seashore. The region has over 20 National Parks, State Forest and nature reserves. Our wildlife ranges from migratory Humpback whales (June - November) and wedge-tailed shearwaters (November to April) to territorial white breasted sea eagles and Osprey. In some parks over 120 bird species have been recorded. Marsupials too - possums and pademelons, bandicoots, flying foxes, sugar, pygmy and greater gliders.
For adventure, choose from sky-diving, scuba diving, white water rafting, horse riding, game fishing, surf rafting or surf board riding. Family fun is plentiful too - whale watching, water slides, indoor rock climbing, go-karting, fishing, taking in a movie or a picnic on the beach or shady riverbank.
If you enjoy trying local cuisine - there are some great eateries. There are cafes and restaurants offering local seafood, modern creative cuisine and variety of regional Asian dishes. In towns from Woolgoolga to Bellingen to Nambucca Heads you will discover relaxed, casual dining on offer in pubs, clubs, cafes and restaurants.
The friendly beachside city of Coffs Harbour is Coffs Coast's vibrant heart. Surrounded by National Parks and facing the Solitary Islands Marine Park, the natural environment and uncrowded beaches are complemented by exciting activities and attractions, excellent shopping, fantastic accommodation and award-winning cafe's and restaurants.
Coffs Harbour sits in a unique position where the Great Dividing Range meets the Australian East Coast. The subtropical city lies between the forested hills and sparkling blue waters. Coffs Harbour is a modern city with a small-town atmosphere - and the hub from which to explore Coffs Coast's enormous selection of things to see and do. To get a feel for the 'lay of the land', take the short drive up to Sealy Lookout in Bruxner Park, northwest of the city, where you'll enjoy superb views of the city and beaches below. Coffs Harbour's city centre and CBD are situated close to the highway. The City Centre's unique shops and boutiques, al fresco cafe's and the Thursday Growers' Market are popular with office workers, regular shoppers and visitors alike.
The popular Jetty and Harbourside district is a few kilometres to the east along Harbour Drive, just past The Promenade with its shops and restaurants overlooking Coffs Creek. The "Jetty Strip" opposite the Jetty Village Shopping Centre features around 15 cafe's and restaurants offering indoor and al-fresco dining.Take a stroll along the Jetty foreshores, the historic Jetty itself, the Marina and the North Wall break-wall and admire the scenic harbour views. The hilly island dominating this view is Muttonbird Island Nature Reserve, home to thousands of wedge-tailed shearwaters. Its walking track offers exceptional views back to Coffs Harbour.
Many places to stay are located in the Park Beach area, just across Coffs Creek from the Jetty area, while a string of resorts are found a few kilometres north again. Park Beach is also where you'll find Park Beach Plaza, the region's largest shopping mall. Coffs Harbour is paradise for kids, who won't be able to decide whether to go surfing, swimming, fishing, go-karting or visiting Coffs Coast's many popular attractions.
"Sunny Sawtell" is an attractive beachside town just 10km south of the centre of Coffs Harbour. This cosmopolitan seaside village has always been a favourite destination with visitors thanks to its pretty setting between two headlands, an attractive main street with great cafe's and restaurants that are just a stroll from the popular swimming and surfing beach, and easy access to creeks and a National Park.
Bonville Creek Estuary SawtellWith Boambee Creek to the north and Bonville Creek to the south, there are plenty of opportunities for swimming, fishing, canoeing or kayaking, picnicking and general lazing about.
Walking tracks and roads make it easy to go up Boambee and Bonville (Sawtell) Headlands for a spot of whale watching (May to November) or just for the outstanding views.
On the southern side of Sawtell Headland is the Sawtell Memorial Rock Pool, providing swimmers with a protected place to do their laps.
The Sawtell Surf Club is a hive of activity, particularly on weekends and during school holidays. With showers and toilets plus a delightful al fresco cafe overlooking the ocean, this is also headquarters for the lifeguards patrolling Sawtell Beach.
Sawtell's First Avenue is characterised by the huge Moreton Bay fig trees in the colourful garden dividing the street. They protect and shelter not just the benches underneath but the entire main street. Take your time exploring the many specialty shops and boutiques.
The Sawtell RSL provides plenty of entertainment options, while your dining choices are endless with anything from spicy Thai, exotic Indian and traditional Chinese to fresh local seafood and modern Australian cuisine.
Surround yourself with nature on a walk or mountain bike ride along the trails of Bongil Bongil National Park, which is not far from Sawtell's main street or from the idyllically situated Sawtell Beach Caravan Park, the Sawtell Bowling Club and the Sawtell Golf Club.
Woolgoolga - affectionately known as "Woopi" among locals - is a pleasant seaside town 25km north of Coffs Harbour. You know you're there when you see the stunning white domes of a Sikh Temple on top of the hill along the highway.
The town has the largest regional Sikh/Punjabi population in Australia. The imposing Guru Nanak Sikh Gurudwara (Sikh Temple) is not only the town's No.1 landmark but also the place of worship for the local Punjabi Sikh community, who make up half of Woolgoolga's population. The temple is open to visitors on weekends.
A stroll through Woolgoolga will reveal plenty of cafe's and restaurants - offering not just Indian but plenty of other cuisines. Wander around the lovely township and browse the surf and clothing stores, art and craft shops and the art gallery on Turon Parade.
Pick up some local fare, soak up the beachside atmosphere and enjoy live entertainment at the Bollywood Beach Bazaar (1st and 4th Saturday of the month) and the Woolgoolga Beach Markets (2nd Saturday each month).
The town is also known for an exciting and colourful food & cultural festival - Woolgoolga Curryfest - held in April each year. With an abundance of Indian and curry-themed food, music, dance, parades, stalls and more, Curryfest draws visitors from around the country.
Woolgoolga BeachWoolgoolga Beach stretches from the picturesque picnic spots at Woolgoolga Lake to the headland above town.
Immediately behind the patrolled southern end of the beach is the reserve with a playground, electric barbecues, picnic shelters, toilets, showers and a boat ramp.
Woolgoolga Headland is known as Whale Watch Headland. With some of the best coastal views in NSW, it's the perfect place to see migrating Humpback Whales pass the coast between May and November. Dolphins are also often seen playing in the waves at Woolgoolga Back Beach. It is truly a magical spot to stop and rest and take in nature at its best.
About 4km inland are Sherwood Nature Reserve and Woolgoolga Picnic Area. Enjoy the 2km riverside walk along Woolgoolga Creek through subtropical rainforest to the spectacular waterfall, keeping an eye out for some of the 80 species of birds living in this rainforest.
The riverside town of Bellingen is nestled in the heart of the green and lush Bellinger Valley between the coast and the Dorrigo Plateau on the scenic Waterfall Way. Home to a large number of people who moved there to enjoy a laid-back and creative, artistic or alternative lifestyle, Bellingen is buzzing with markets, cafe's, galleries, festivals and events.
Church Street, BellingenIt is the wonderful combination of Bellingen's turn-of-the-century 'main street' village atmosphere, rich architectural heritage, rural charm, bohemian atmosphere and thriving cosmopolitan culture that seems to capture people's hearts.
The beautifully restored timber, stone and iron lace Hammond & Wheatley Emporium dominates the townscape. It shares the main street with an equally beautifully renovated country pub - the Federal Hotel - and eclectic shops and boutiques, clothing and general stores, bakeries and award-winning cafe's and restaurants.
The Old Butter Factory, more than a century old, now houses a range of art, craft and gift shops in a garden atmosphere. Its cafe looks out onto the green open spaces of the local golf course and borders the Bellinger River that traverses the town.
Bellingen Old Butter FactoryWith around 250 stalls and live music, the monthly Bellingen Community Markets always attract great crowds. The Jazz & Blues Festival and the Global Carnival are just two of the manyfestivals and events that liven up the town throughout the year, while you can catch live entertainment in pubs and clubs every week.
Because Bellingen is a fabulous place to live it up and lap up the good life - think private luxury guesthouses, health retreats, superb dining options and day spas - the place is also a favourite romantic destinationfor couples and makes a great girls' getaway.
In and around Bellingen you'll find a huge selection of accommodation, particularly B&B's, farm stays, guesthouses and self-contained cabins - most in quiet rural hideaways.
On the edge of the Great Dividing Range escarpment, about 1,000 metres above sea level, lies the small and friendly country town of Dorrigo. Highlights are the drive there via Waterfall Way, one of Australia's most scenic roads, and the nearby rainforest walks, lookout points, waterfalls, birds and wildlife.
On the east side of the town, the Dorrigo plateau drops away into the World Heritage-listed Gondwana Rainforests of Dorrigo National Park. To the west lies gently rolling farmland.
Dorrigo National Park is simply a must-see destination for anyone visiting Coffs Coast. Just inside the entrance of the National Park is the famous Sky Walk, a 70m boardwalk jutting out over the tops of rainforest giants. Below are walkways and trails through the forest to explore as well as short accessible walks with interpretive signs for anyone who's short on time or mobility impaired. The overhead canopy, vines and ferns are home to numerous forest birds. There is also an education centre, souvenir shop and delightful rainforest cafe.
Dorrigo Memorial HallIn the centre of the town, the pub, bakery and country stores hark back to an era of traditional, rural Australia - mixed with an influx of chic cafe's, boutiques, galleries and food stores. Stop for a coffee, browse the craft shops, pamper yourself with some health and beauty therapy and don't forget to sample the agricultural produce of the rich volcanic soils of the Dorrigo Plateau.
Visitors who are in for some action can try trout fishing, canoeing, horse riding, mountain bike riding and self-guided 4WD trips. Not far from Dorrigo are plenty of forests and national parks with amazing trails, waterfalls, views and wildlife.
Dorrigo is home to a large and active art community and you'll find regular exhibitions and events featuring their paintings, woodworks, sculptures and other artworks. In October each year, the town fills up with musicians and music lovers for the annual Dorrigo Folk & Bluegrass Festival.
Urunga is the place where the Kalang and Bellinger Rivers join the Pacific Ocean. The charming town is just a 20-minute drive south of Coffs Harbour and 15 minutes fromBellingen.
The town is particularly popular for its waterways and peaceful ambiance. Boating, fishing, swimming, picnicking and golfing are some of the favourite pastimes of locals as well as visitors to Urunga.
Urunga boardwalkYour stay in Urunga is guaranteed to be relaxing thanks to the combination of its seaside village atmosphere, lovely river park and foreshores area, good sporting facilities and a small but good selection of clubs and cafe's. A walk along the raised boardwalk through the mangroves of the river estuary is a must-do for anyone visiting Urunga. It starts right next to the beautifully situated Urunga Heads Holiday Park.
The traditional Ocean View Hotel overlooking the rivers is a great place to enjoy a meal. You can hire a boat at the town's entrance from the Pacific Highway, next to the Anchors Wharf Cafe underneath the railway bridge.
This scenic village just north of Urunga, on the other side of the Bellinger River, is a popular destination with holidaymakers. Wedged between the broad blue river and a long sandy beach, boating, fishing, swimming and surfing are the main attractions here.
With lots of green space, it's also a wonderful destination for general relaxation by the water and picnics in the riverside park. Tinnies, canoes and kayaks can be hired at the Bellinger River Tourist Park in Repton, just a few kilometres up the road, from where you can explore the waterways around Mylestom.
Among the facilities in Mylestom are two public boat ramps, a bowling club with Chinese restaurant, a general store, a park with barbecues, picnic tables, toilets and a children's playground, plus a river lido/boardwalk for swimming and fishing. The general store, The Post Cafe, sells hot take-away food and delicious coffee on their verandah overlooking the river.
(Courtesy Discover Coffs Coast)