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Coffs Harbour in Australia

Adjudged the most livable place in Australia, Coffs Harbour lies ensconced between high hills and beaches. Bananas are the main crop here, and tourism is the main industry.

Unlike other waterside towns that are built facing the sea, Coffs Harbour looks away from the sea and towards the hills.

The small town is divided into three main regions- the jetty area, the beach and the commercial area. Small nearby towns like Sawtell, are now considered a suburb of the City of Coffs Harbour.

Activities and Attractions in Coffs Harbour

A relaxed drive to Sealy Lookout in Bruxner Park leads one to the Forest Sky Pier, which has breathtaking views of the beaches and city. The City Centre is located close to the Highway and includes a host of unique al fresco cafés, boutiques and the popular Thursday Grower’s Market.

Visitors can drive east along Harbour Drive, past the Promenade, to arrive at the city’s Harbourside district and Jetty. Here, scenic harbor views and spirited winds rejuvenate the tired body and mind. One can stroll along the Jetty and the Marina to admire the North Wall breakwall.

The harbor view is dominated by a hilly island, called the Muttonbird Island Nature Reserve. This is a protected and sacred site for the native Gumbaynggirr Aboriginal people who call the island, ‘Giidayn Miirral’.

This island is home to hundreds of wedge-tailed shearwaters, also called ‘muttonbirds’. They were named ‘muttonbirds’ by the earliest settlers for their fatty flesh that tasted like mutton. Shearwaters are so called for their ability to shear or cut through the water as they skim across its surface. These birds migrate thousands of miles each year to return to their burrows on Muttonbird Island, every August.

The top of the island is dominated by an incredible 360-degree view of the harbor, beaches, ocean, the city, and the mountains. The walkway ends with a viewing platform that provides uninterrupted views of humpback whales, which pass through the waters between June and November.

The 75-kilometer long Solitary Islands Marina Park begins at the end of this platform. Tropical warm waters meet the Southern cool currents giving rise to a diverse flora and fauna. The Park consists of sandy beaches, estuaries, sub-tidal reefs, rocky shores, the ocean and six Solitary Islands.

The Park is home to 600 molluscs, 90 species of hard corals and 550 species of reef fish. Most of these inhabitants reside all year round while some species migrate back and forth from the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland and south of Tasmania. The humpback whales, for instance, travel from as far as Antarctica.

This Park consists of a veritable treasure of aquatic life which includes bull and manta rays, goatfish and batfish, blue groper and grey nurse sharks, green and loggerhead turtles, kingfish, surgeonfish, flying fish, clown fish, sea slugs and cowry shells. Every year, travelers from all over the world visit to witness nature in full glory.

Located near the Coffs Harbour CBD, is another massive tourist attraction, the North Coast Regional Botanic Garden. With lush sections devoted to China, Japan, India, Africa, the Americas and Queensland, this Garden features subtropical canopies, sensory gardens, greenhouses and dense rainforests. Visitors can take the 6km long Coffs Creek Walk through the park that starts on Coff Street and ends at the coast. They can also opt for a trail from the Rainforest Walk, the Aboriginal Pants Walk and the Nature Trail.

This park is a heaven for birdwatchers with over 150 recorded species of birds. The Mangrove Boardwalk Bird Hide is populated with a diverse range of water birds and waders. The Garden is open between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. every day of the year. Entry is free but visitors are requested to donate money for the conservation of the park.

Also read: 5 Best Coffs Harbour Attractions You Can’t Miss

Where is Coffs Harbour?

Coffs Harbour is located in New South Wales, Australia- and falls between Sydney and Brisbane. It is 340 miles northward Sydney and 240 miles southward of Brisbane. It is one of the many regional cities along the Pacific Highway between Newcastle and the Gold Coast. Its proximity to the center of the north and mid coasts makes it a comfortable drive from either end of the highway.

Coffs Harbour Map

How to reach Coffs Harbour

Reach by Air: The nearest international airport to Coffs Harbour is the Gold Coast Airport, Australia. It is a distance of three and a half hours via the Pacific Highway and the Pacific Motorway.

Reach by Train: There is a train station on the south of Coffs Harbour to which Countrylink trains ply regularly from Sydney. The train travels through Central Coast, Newcastle and Kempsey before arriving at Coffs Harbour. The ride is scenic enough so that a passenger does not mind the nine long hours spent on the train. Several trains run between Sydney and Brisbane at different hours, making their stop at Coffs Harbour on the way.

Reach by Bus: Greyhound and Premier coaches ply regularly between Brisbane and Sydney, making a midway stop at Coffs Harbour.

Best time to visit Coffs Harbour

The warmest month in Coffs Harbour is January and the coolest month is July. However January also sees a lot of rainfall. In fact, the summer months of January to June see a lot of rainfall. A visit in September is ideal since it is the driest month. The weather too is not too cold.

Accommodation near Coffs Harbour

Accommodation facilities are mainly spread around two areas- near the beaches- mainly Park Beach, and near the Pacific Highway. While the hotels on the Park Beach promise great views while the ones near the highway offer cheaper rates and easy accessibility to the road. Visitors can choose from a wide range of accommodation that include guesthouses, country retreats, resorts and hotels. They can choose to stay near the city center, the beach or in a rural hinterland setting. Caravan parks are also a popular choice. Park Beach Holiday Park, North Coast Holiday Parks and the Banana Coast Caravan Park offer some great caravan sites for families as well as groups.

Facts about Coffs Harbour

  • The original name of Coffs Harbour was Korff’s Harbour- after John Korff- who took shelter here in 1847. The name was later changed to Coff’s Harbour by land surveyors.
  • The Coffs Harbour Regional Airport is one of the largest and busiest regional airports in New South Wales.
  • It is the only place in New South Wales, where the Great Dividing Range meets the Pacific Ocean.
  • The Big Banana received close to 150,000 visitors in 2014.
  • Hollywood actor, Russell Crowe has a 791-acre cattle farm in Nana Glen, near Coffs Harbour. He has even paid for the construction of a swimming pool for students in Nana Glen.

Travel Tips

  • The sun here is strong enough to cause serious damage to the screen unless proper protection is taken. So, wear sunglasses with UV protection, long- sleeved clothes and apply lots of sunscreen with SPF at short intervals.
  • Coffs Harbour has several beaches. Swimming is advisable at the patrolled beaches only. Swim between the red and yellow flags for safety.
  • Anyone interested in painting can try meeting the famous painter Robert Bosler. His new premises are on the Park Beach Road.

 Image credits : Stuart Edwards, CburnettQueerbubblesDale Gillard


Published On: Wednesday, February 4th, 2015