If you’ve ever driven from Sydney to Brisbane you’ve no doubt stopped in at Coffs Harbour albeit very briefly. But did you know that Coffs Harbour is a destination all on its own?
It’s true. Located on the Mid North Coast of New South Wales, Coffs Harbour is its own little tourist hub with a diverse variety of natural and commercial tourist attractions that warrant more than just a stop for fuel on the long drive between capital cities.
The Clog Barn
This one might appear on my list be due to my Dutch heritage, but I can’t drive past Coffs Harbour without stopping into The Clog Barn.
This little piece of The Netherlands in regional NSW offers a variety of Dutch experiences I haven’t been able to find outside of Europe, and something very different from your usual road trip stops
It’s a great little place to try on and even buy the famous Dutch wooden shoes, Clogs. You can even witness how they are made if you happen to drop in at the right time. If you delve a little more into the Dutch culture, you can check out the pottery or even sample some Dutch foods in the cafe. I recommend trying the croquettes.
Also, they also have a miniature Dutch village with a model railway that is free to visit. Great to keep the kids distracted for a couple of minutes.
It’s worth noting that The Clog Barn should not be confused with the giant Windmill which is actually a hotel in Coffs Harbour. To find out more about The Clog Barn visit their website – http://www.clogbarn.com.au/
Dolphin Marine Conservation Park
Coffs Harbour is famous for its seasonal whale and dolphin boat tours. But they are only available a couple of months of the year. If you’d like to guarantee a Dolphin experience year-round, then you need to head to Dolphin Marine Conservation Park.
The park has had a number of names over the years (Pet Porpoise Pool and Dolphin Marine Magic), but its focus, like all animal parks, has switched to emphasise its conservation efforts.
Dolphin Marine Conservation Park is by no means as big as Seaworld but is a great little place to get up close to and learn more about Dolphins, Seals and Penguins, which are local to the area, but not easy to find in the wild. They also offer some opportunities to get in the water with the Dolphins and Seals for a really unique experience.
To find out more about Dolphin Marine Conservation Park head over to their website – http://www.dolphinmarineconservation.com.au/
Coffs Harbour Marina and Jetty
One of the key attractions in Coffs Harbour, if you divert off the Pacific Highway is the marina and jetty.
Jetty Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Coffs Harbour and a great little place to relax and swim in the sheltered waters protected by two break walls. Named after the jetty that was built on the beach in 1892, the beach still maintains that jetty which was refurbished by the NSW Government in the late 1990’s and is now a permanent feature,
Right alongside the beach, Coffs Jetty Foreshore is also home to all of the whale watching tours that operate in the area. The foreshore is connected to Mutton Bird Island by the northern break wall, which also forms the harbour by which the city is named. The area, known as Coffs Harbour Marina has a couple of restaurants but is also worth the walk across to the conversation area of the island that is a great place to stretch your legs (along the designated paths) and take in the stunning views.
It’s just a good place to sit down, relax and take in the area the made Coffs Harbour what it is today.
Dorrigo National Park
Dorrigo National Park is just a short drive to the west of Coffs Harbour, and it’s famous for its amazing waterfalls.
The road out to Dorrigo is called Waterfall Way and not only is it a stunning drive it offers a stark contrast to the beaches that a typical down the east coast of Australia.
There are so many magnificent waterfalls and bushwalks to choose from in the area that you really need a couple of days to explore them all. That said if you are only in the area for a day then my personal pick is Crystal Shower Falls.
Crystal Shower Falls is located at the bottom of a stunning walking trail that is fantastic to stretch the legs. The trail takes you along a unique suspension bridge that gives you an amazing view of the front of the falls. But the real drawcard is the walking trail underneath the falls, which is not something I’ve seen at other waterfalls.
Well worth detour or even making the overnight stopover in Coffs Harbour to be able to check it out properly.
To find out more about the Dorrigo National Park and the Crystal Shower Falls please visit the National Parks and Wildlife service websites – http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/Dorrigo-National-Park/Crystal-Shower-Falls/walking & http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/dorrigo-national-park
The Big Banana
Last but not least, no trip to Coffs Harbour would be complete without stopping at the Big Banana.
It’s an icon of any trip up (or down) the Pacific Highway between Sydney and Brisbane and while it was once just a Banana Plantation, with the economic changes of Coffs Harbour, the Big Banana has since diversified into a tourist attraction in its own right.
The site now offers a wide variety of attractions with plantation tours, an ice skating rink, mini golf, tobogganing… the list goes on. It’s also a great place to just stop for a bite to eat with the cafe serving some banana-based specialties as well as a full cafe menu. Also, check out the small shops around the complex, the hand-made candy store is a personal favourite of mine.
To find out more about the Big Banana head over to their website – http://www.bigbanana.com/
Heading to Coffs Harbour for the first time? Why not have a look at my tips for first-timers to Coffs Harbour.
Have you been to the Coffs Harbour before? Feel something else should have been on the list? Let me know with a comment below.
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