Guides

How To See The Cool Side Of Coffs Harbour

Coffs Harbour has always been a popular holiday spot for families but you don’t need kids or a caravan to appreciate this stunning area along the NSW coast. The city and its surrounds offer more than a few surprises, from hip live music venues, boutiques and funky cafes to one of Australia’s most significant wetlands.

Here’s how to see some of the cool side of Coffs.

Hitting the town in Coffs Harbour

Musicians perform at Element Bar Coffs Harbour

Image: Element Bar Coffs Harbour / Facebook

On Friday evenings the Twilight Food Market in Park Beach Reserve comes alive with the sound of laughter, live bands and sizzling snacks from October to April. If you aren’t ready to call it a night when the market wraps up, head to Element Bar, an atmospheric industrial-style drinking spot where the live music kicks off at 8pm and goes until late.

Just up the road you’ll find Old John’s, a hip retro-inspired café which offers the perfect hangover cure. One large coffee, freshly squeezed juice and the café’s signature egg and bacon roll will have you ready to face the day. Surf St Café has surf views, ocean breezes and a breakfast menu featuring “Dinner for Breakfast”, a quirky but tasty combination of pappardelle pasta, truffle oil, mushrooms, spinach and poached eggs served with truffle oil.

Bellingen and beyond

 

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With its emerald green pastures and main street lined with historic buildings, Bellingen is pretty darn attractive but this rural town located a 30 minute drive from Coffs Harbour stays true to its roots. Alongside trendy boutiques, you will find second hand stores with tea cosies and ’70s frocks brightening the window. Dogs wait patiently for their owners outside the historic Federal Hotel and alternative lifestylers add a splash of colour.

On the main street, Little Red Kitchen has original artworks for sale, live music, and some of the best pizza this side of Italy. No. 5 Church Street (5 Church St, Bellingen) serves meals to an eclectic clientele, ranging from Bellingen’s oldest residents to hipsters sporting more facial hair than Ned Kelly. This laidback cafe also hosts intimate [email protected] sessions featuring performers such as The Yearlings and Katie Noonan. Check the gig guide on the website for details.

Go wild at Dorrigo National Park

 

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Just up the road from Bellingen there is Dorrigo National Park, which is accessed via the Waterfall Way, a winding road which passes alongside lush fields and waterfalls tumbling down hills.

Dorrigo is famous for its elevated walkway which ends at a dramatic lookout perched on the edge of an escarpment. This only takes 20 minutes to explore but it is worth allowing a few extra hours to do the Wonga Walk which includes suspension bridges and a stroll behind a waterfall. Bring bottled water, snacks and a sense of adventure.

Explore the Valley of the Mist

The sleepy town of Macksville located south of Coffs Harbour is also home to one of Australia’s most significant wetlands. Known as the Valley of the Mist, the water is less than 50cm deep in most sections and supports an incredible number of birds including jabiru, white-bellied sea eagles and huge black swans. Guided canoe trips are available and include a tour of the on-site bush tucker farm followed by morning tea.

Where to stay

Pier Hotel

 

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In the early 1900s, the Pier Hotel served a loyal clientele of “sea-loving visitors and those who wish to contemplate a morning plunge in the sea”. These days this historic local icon is a haven of pared back designer rooms with contemporary décor and a cool, vintage twist. It has a killer bistro, too.

Where: 356 Harbour Dr, Coffs Harbour

Promised Land Retreat

Indulge your stylish inner hippy in one of the elegant wooden chalets at Promised Land Retreat, a sweeping 100 acre property with serene views of the Dorrigo escarpment. There are mountain bikes for exploring the surrounding area and the Never-Never River swimming hole is a short stroll away.

Where: 934 Promised Land Road, Gleniffer

Bellingen YHA

Private double rooms make this character-filled weatherboard house with wide verandas and stunning mountain views a must for thrifty travellers. Fast, free internet and the funky, friendly vibe offer yet more reasons to stay at the Bellingen YHA.

Where: 2 Short Street, Bellingen