If Coffs Harbour is mentioned, there seems to be an immediate association with the Big Banana and it’s easy to understand why. Read on to discover some other gems in Coffs Harbour.
- Enjoy breakfast at Shearwater Restaurant
- Discover Sealy's Lookout or Forest Sky Pier
- Relax on Moonee Beach
This is because the highway icon is impossible to miss at the north end of town and is a brilliant opportunity for a pit-stop, with a water park, ice skating rink, mini golf course and more. While a day there can be fun, the township around it has also evolved and is more like a small cosmopolitan city today.
What to see
A one minute drive north from The Big Banana will have you discovering the turn-off to Sealy’s Lookout, visit during daylight hours and you can walk out onto the Forest Sky Pier which is perched over the treetops and gives a sweeping view south of the entire town, with majestic hills to the west and the ocean to the east. You can then set off on various walking tracks, ranging from one to three hours return, through the lush rainforest.
If you are looking for something of a slower pace, why not consider the Bunker Cartoon Gallery. This WWII era bunker was built into the side of a hill and used for communications, later becoming derelict and smeared with graffiti and rubbish, until evolving into the art gallery it is today. For a $5 adult entry fee, visitors can enjoy the rows of amusing and emotive cartoon artworks, whilst also learning about the bunker's history. It's one of a number of defenscs built in the area when officials feared Coffs could be a perfect place for a Japanese invasion during WWII.
Where to eat
Head down to The Promenade for breakfast, which overlooks the tidal mangroves of Coffs Creek and has restaurants, shops and a day spa. At Shearwater Restaurant, they offer eggs benedict acclaimed to be one of the best in Australia, with pesto spread on focaccia and a blob of sweet relish. You can eat it on the balcony and watch juvenile schools of fish swimming in the shallow water below, waiting for someone to throw in a piece of bread. Visitors can also hire stand-up paddle boards or kayaks and set off from the wooden ramp to explore the waterway's tranquil branches.
Where to visitOne of the best places to absorb a bit of free coastal serenity is a 15-minute drive up the coast. Take the highway exit to Emerald Beach and drive past its popular main beach to Moonee Beach Nature Reserve car park. On the short stroll to ‘Look At Me Now Headland’, you’re likely to greeted by its population of eastern grey kangaroos, if it’s a hot summer day, they’ll be resting in the shade of shrubs and will barely bat a long eyelash at passing humans. From the headland, the view south over Moonee Beach is spectacular, watch the surfers ride the rolling turquoise swells and perhaps, if you are lucky, watch them compete to ride the waves with a pod of dolphins.
Where to play
Bonville Golf Resort has been consistently voted the most beautiful golf course in Australia, featuring 18 holes set amongst sub-tropical rainforest. It's a long course, so golf carts are mandatory, but sitting back and enjoying the scenic ride between holes can be half the fun. While not cheap (an 18-hole round starts at $115 per person and varies with the season and day), it should be on every golfer's bucket list.
Where to spend your evening
Park Beach Reserve is the picture-perfect spot alongside Coffs Creek where it meets the ocean and also the location of the Twilight Food Market every Friday evening during daylight saving months. It has become popular with both locals and visitors drawn to cheap and delicious multicultural food, from stalls and vans, you can choose a plate of Vietnamese, Mexican or African cuisine, or some fresh crepes with lemon juice and sugar.
The vibe could be described as a 'party picnic' with children running around as people sit on blankets and lawn chairs, drinking BYO beer and wine whilst the sun sets, just a 25 minute drive from Darlington Beach Holiday Resort, a beautiful place to stay for the whole family.
Originally posted in the March / April issue of the Open Road magazine