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Okay so they went bananas

November 6, 2014 - Coffs Coast & Bellingen

In the Gumbaynggirr dreaming the giant goanna formed Macauleys Headland and it is in the lee of this headland that acclaimed local water photographer Tom Woods from ST Surf Images swims out into the line up. Sophie, Nick and Lucy revel in the small conditions as local surfers go about their early morning ritual and a few local groms rip it up. The waves are fun and it’s great to be back in the water.

Famished after a morning at the beach we drive from Coffs Harbour to the once quaint town of Sawtell. People who sojourned here as kids are surprised on their return by the transformation. To the newbies it offers a vibrant personality and unique atmosphere. It matches, and for many surpasses, the best in small and friendly towns.

A stroll down the well shaded main street past a host of eclectic shops takes us to our destination Split Café & Espresso. It has grown over the last nine years and is now much more than a hub for visiting and local cyclists. It incorporates all sorts of cycling products offering a chic and trendy atmosphere. Although busy we have missed the morning rush and our food and drinks come quickly. Libby’s omelette with the local Bellingen smoked ham and brie on organic sourdough is brought out first and has everybody drooling. We don’t wait long and are equally rewarded.

We dash back to the Observatory Holiday Apartments in the convenient location on the hill above the harbor at Coffs. The three level unit has been our home away from home for the last two days. We join a long list of guests that include police chiefs, Red Bull stunt pilots, international rally drivers and mug punters like us. It’s been a blast.

Pulling up right outside the big yellow thing on the side of the hill, we wait for a break in the photographic traffic. I insist and cajole the kids into posing for the obligatory idiot shot in front of, you guessed it, the world famous Big Banana. I am not that clever… of course they refuse. I can’t believe they wouldn’t stand in front of the banana and yell ‘banana’. I mean really! No respect, my only option – bribery.

I get the shot and they are rewarded with their tickets. The two youngest go mad. Firstly the ice skating rink where they perform, in their own words, like ‘a couple of kooks’. Lucy has to resort to the zimmer frame, the ice equivalent of training wheels. You would never have guessed their mother was an accomplished ice skater back in the day.

The day whizzes by. The toboggan has to be seen to be believed. It’s the sub tropical version of the luge. The track snakes its way from high on the hill and its worth it, if just for the view. From its summit, the track, a half pipe, swoops down into the valley. Teenagers can go almost flat out while mums can go at a sedate ‘mum’ pace. That’s what brakes are for kids! From the hare to the tortoise it was the source of much merriment and mirth.

We finish the day at the water park to cool down. So much fun and provides more thrills and spills. An afternoon thunderstorm looms ominously over the range. In between the action we participate in an age old family tradition and sit in the shade with a choc coated frozen banana. That shade is now looking threatening, ‘run’, its going to rain.

We head into Coffs and seek refuge at Artisti Di Espresso for a really decent coffee and great juice. This place is much more than your average coffee shop. They roast, package and distribute a fine array of coffee. It’s a big space and has plenty of room and a funky atmosphere. Great quality artwork adorns the walls and it’s not surprising to learn the best pieces have already sold. Great coffee, some say the best in town, but hey, you be the judge!

At night back to our  new favorite new town Sawtell. After a quick stroll down the street we arrive at Lime Mexican Burrito Bar and Tequeria. It’s a great venue to drop in for a drink or a snack. For the really famished you won’t be disappointed. Nick’s burrito looks massive, where does he put it? I had two small tacos – the street beef taco and the pulled pork taco. I could have gone another they were so delicious, but that would have been gluttony. As it was I had to smack my hand to abstain from desert – the churros with chocolate dipping sauce. Okay, so I had a taste. All right, just one. Local Artist Ash Johnston has done himself proud with big mexican-themed murals covering the walls. A friend of a friend, our waiter for the night, hands us the obligatory sombrero – now that’s a hat. And we exit stage left.

Adios Amigos it’s been more than fun! It’s a cliché but it is the people that make the places, so whack the cork in the bottle. To everybody on the Coffs Coast that has made our trip truly memorable a big thank you and to those that accommodated and fed us, you have excelled yourselves. To the fun providers and adrenalin administrators, thanks for the memories.

It’s been whistle stop, whirlwind and priceless.

Surf pic of Lucy: courtesy Tom Woods






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