My Town: Discover the paradise of Coffs Harbour, New South Wales

Apr 19, 2019
View from Muttonbird Island Nature Reserve to Coffs Harbour's old timber jetty (left), Coffs Harbour International Marina, and township. Source: Simon McGill/Getty Images

Karen Jones has called the New South Wales coastal city of Coffs Harbour home for 18 years. The happily retired grandmother and former disability worker has a wonderful retirement filled with things she enjoys doing and people she loves seeing. Karen walks often on the gorgeous pristine beaches Coffs Harbour has to offer and enjoys a coffee at some of the city’s world-class cafes.

Describe your town in a couple of sentences

“Coffs Harbour is a city on the north coast of New South Wales, Australia. It is a popular destination because of it’s glorious beaches and the Big Banana is a well known icon north of the city. The Coffs Harbour Marina is just part of the Solitary Islands Marine Park, home to abundant wildlife, seasonal whales and coral reefs. Just east is the Muttonbird Island Nature Reserve, with its large population of wedge-tailed shearwater birds and learning centre. Whale watching and scuba diving are popular with visitors and locals alike.

“There are two main town hubs — Park Beach Plaza, which has all of your usual stores and supermarkets. Also the town centre. Coffs City Central, which has a mall and a Kmart.

“Coffs Harbour is surrounded by other beach towns which are not too far away. Sapphire Beach, Emerald Beach, Moonee Beach, Woolgoolga Beach are north on our new highway and also Urunga wetlands further south.”

An interesting thing people might not know about your town is

“The jetty, which is part of the jetty foreshores, was discovered by Captain John Korff in 1847 whilst sheltering from a storm. The name Korff influenced the current name Coffs Harbour.”

What are the best events that take place in your town throughout the year that you’d recommend to visitors?

“Apart from the bustling weekly local markets on the jetty foreshore and in the city centre, also the Twilight Markets at Park Beach reserve in summer, there are major events in Coffs Harbour.

“Yearly there is the Curryfest held in nearby seaside town of Woolgoolga, the Chilli Festival in iconic Sawtell, the Bellingen Readers and Writers Festival in picturesque nearby Bellingen. All of these towns are close to Coffs Harbour itself. In recent years there has also been the rally run by World Rally Championships Australia. We also have extensive and modern sport fields, which attract many visitors for events. And of course the famous Bonville Golf course.”

Why do you love your town so much?

“I think I love my town because of the proximity to so many beaches and wonderful headland walks. The views are spectacular, the seas are warm to swim in and are pristine. There are so many beautiful beaches. I can be totally alone, or swim on a patrolled beach. It’s my choice. I also love the great cafes and eating places. Also Sawtell has the recently restored Majestic Cinema, which has a great array of films.”

The best list

Best thing for every first-time visitor to do in your town?

“Walk along the historic jetty. Look to your right at the amazing Muttonbird Island and walk it if you can. The view is astounding. Look to your left at the world-class marina. A great place to find a bite to eat or shop for fresh local seafood.”

Best place to grab a coffee?

“So many good places. Treeo in nearby Sawtell, every coffee shop in Bellingen, Supply at the Jetty, Palate and Ply in Coffs Cental, Silvios at Park Beach Plaza.”

Best place to go for a walk?

“Everywhere and anywhere. My favourite is over Boambee Headland heading to Sawtell Beach for breakfast at The Kiosk which looks over the beach. The views are breathtaking, I often sit and watch the whales in the right season. Bluest of blue seas and golden sand. Just bliss. Or Coffs Creek is a shadier alternative with well signed paths as you enjoy the green and the quiet.

Best place to look out over an amazing view?

“So many, Sawtell Headland, Look At Me Now Headand (nearby Sapphire Beach) has colonies of kangaroos, Woolgoolga Headland, the drive to Bellingen (20 minutes) takes you through green fields and trees to rainforest Dorrigo where the view from the boardwalk is breathtaking. Then there is the Sealy Lookout heading north.”

Best thing to do at night?

“Sawtell or Jetty Strip restaurants. Choose from fine dining to wine bar menus from nearly every culture — Mexican, Italian, Vietnamese, Japanese, Indian. Then take a stroll in the moonlight along the nearest beach. Pure magic.”

Best place to have breakfast?

“Again, we are spoilt for choice. Cafe Splitt in Sawtell, or Treeo. Or The Kiosk overlooking the beach. Supply at the Jetty, or Urban at the Jetty if you want a huge breakfast.”

Best thing to do in town that costs nothing?

“Walk, swim and browse in all of the great shops. Walk along the Coffs Creek walk through to the gorgeous botanic gardens. Window shop in some of the great shops.”

Best thing to do in your town for less than $20?

“Grab a coffee and wander the beachside markets on a Sunday and pick up a few bargains. From organic veges, plants and jewellery, there is also an option to eat food from food stalls from every culture. Or just swim and enjoy a picnic from home.”

Best restaurant in town?

“Latitude 30 Restaurant and Bar — it’s on the Marina and overlooks the sea. It’s simply breathtaking. There is also a lift for wheelchair access.

“The restaurant has a stunning seafood menu, awesome cocktails and extensive wine list. I adore their food but it is expensive. If you want to spoil yourelf, have the huge shared seafood platter. If you’re on a budget, the downstairs part has a boutique burger joint which is also great. Watching the sun set over the sea is an unforgettable experience.

Best place for visitors to pick up something special?

“Food, divine food such as chutneys, jams, nuts, gourmet meats etc. at the Thursday farmers market in Coffs Central. Also amazing skin care, soaps etc. Take a short drive inland to the Two Tails winery at Nana Glen (you might spot Russell Crowe who lives nearby) the amazing tapas menu and some stunning wines to buy. Such a beautiful spot.”

Best place to visit on a hot day?

“The beach, any beach. Find some shade or take an umbrella. Make sure you have your sunscreen and plenty of water. It’s just bliss and there are so many to choose from. Or as an alternative the Olympic pool in the centre of town. There are both undercover and out door pools. The Big Banana has an ice skating rink plus a toboggan ride and water slides.”

Best place to visit when it’s cold?

“I like to wander down the streets of nearby pictureseque Bellingen. Visit the iconic Hammond and Wheatley Emporium, check out the quirky shops and enjoy some of the best coffee and food anywhere. Visit the histroric Old Butter Factory for an array of arts and crafts from local artisans. This area has a buzzing vibe and the monthly Bellingen Markets are legendary. There are many quaint homes to wander past and if it’s springtime, the jacaranda trees in bloom are magnificent.”

Best place to go for visitors to learn more about your town?

“We have excellent libraries in the city centre, Bellingen, Toormina and Woolgoolga. Also there is a visitors centre on the southern part of the highway. Most shops and eating places have people who are helpful to visitors.”

Have you visited Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia? Are beachside holidays of interest to you?

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