Coffs Coast & Bellingen
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, cafés, galleries, festivals and events.
It 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 cafés and restaurants.
Make sure you visit The Old Butter Factory, more than a century old with its art, craft, cafe and gift shops in a garden atmosphere. Or enjoy a beautiful river tour through the countryside with Bellingen Canoe Adventures.
With 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 many festivals and events that liven up the town throughout the year, while you can catch live entertainment 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 and spas – the place is also a romantic destination for couples and makes a great girls’ getaway.Add to my itineraryView on map
The friendly beach side 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, great accommodation and cafés and restaurants.
Coffs Harbour sits in a unique position where the Great Dividing Range escarpment meets the Australian east coast. The subtropical city lies between the forested hills and sparkling blue waters.
Coffs as it’s known to the locals, 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. From scuba diving to sky diving, surf rafting to whale watching there are enough activities to keep you entertained for well over a week, and for those looking for a quiet getaway it’s the wonderful ways you can connect with nature that entices visitors back for more.Add to my itineraryView on map
Coramba and Nana Glen
Take a peaceful drive inland from Coffs Harbour and explore the rural communities in the picturesque Orara Valley with their guest houses and B&B’s. The villages of Coramba and Nana Glen, which are surrounded by farmlands, forests and mountains, are the valley’s main destinations.
Coramba is only a 20-minute drive from Coffs Harbour along Orara Way. Upon entering Coramba, a sign shows this historic village was established in 1880. Go for a wander along Gale Street and take a close look at the wooden bollards alongside the main road, they are marked with historic cattle-branding irons owned or used by local families. Coramba is home to a bakery, a gift shop, general store and the Coramba Hotel, which has a beer garden at the rear with breathtaking views over the paddocks and rolling hills.
If you are looking for a great tour operator to showcase the hinterland area to you, you can’t go past Adventure Tag Tours, offering day and overnight trips including bush survival skills. Liquid Assets can also help you explore the region with their full day white water rafting expeditions on the Nymboida River.Add to my itineraryView on map
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 Australia’s, Dorrigo National Park. Make sure you take the time to come and visit where Dinosaurs once roamed.
To the west lies gently rolling farmland and green lush hillsides hiding some of the freshest produce of the region, including the famous red soil potatos, goat farms and fruit orchards.
Dorrigo National Park is simply a must-see destination with the famous Sky Walk, a 70m boardwalk jutting out over the tops of the rainforest.
In 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 cafés, the Red Dirt vodka distillery, 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.
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Sawtell, Boambee, Repton, Mylestom and Urunga
Heading south of Coffs Harbour along the coast are a beautiful collection of sea-side villages, such as Boambee, Sawtell, Repton, Mylestom and Urunga, each surrounded in a unique natural environment.
‘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 cafés and restaurants that are just a stroll from the popular swimming and surfing beach, and easy access to creeks and a National Park. On the southern side of Sawtell Headland is the Sawtell Memorial Rock Pool, providing swimmers with a protected place to do their laps.
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 as well as the Aboriginal Art Gallery along this charming street.
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.
With 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.
Repton and Mylestom offer a stunning natural entrance way to the Bellinger River for swimming and boating, and Urunga sits on the edge of the Kalang River and its tributary to the Pacific Ocean.Add to my itineraryView on map
Woolgoolga, Corindi Beach, Emerald Beach and Red Rock
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 the old Pacific Highway now known as Solitary Islands Way.
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.
The Northern Beaches are a playground for swimming, surfing, boating or even walking. Highlights include Moonee Nature Reserve where you can take out a stand-up-paddleboard, go fishing up the creek or picnic waterside while the kids play in the water in front. Look at Me Now Headland at Emerald is a great spot to hang-out with the resident kangaroos, enjoy some whale watching or take in South Solitary Island with its lighthouse. Further up the coast at Red Rock is the Yarrawarra Aboriginal Cultural Centre, where you can try authentic bush tucker or take one of their many interactive tour experiences.
Each beach stretching north from Coffs Harbour to Corindi offers something different, and the names give you a feel for what they might unveil – Sapphire Beach, Emerald Beach, Sandy Beach.
Continue on and stories and cultures provide a fascinating mix, from Indian Sikh communities in Woolgoolga to traditional Gumbaynggirr Aboriginal elders in Corindi and Red Rock.Add to my itineraryView on map