Occupying a unique position in Australia is Coffs Harbour. The city is situated where the Great Dividing Range meets the East Coast and its position provides it with a wealth of amazing attractions close by and a climate close to perfect.
A busy city with a thriving fishing and banana production industry – the town’s nickname is, in fact, the Big Banana Â¬– Coffs Harbour is also a major coastal resort and a popular destination both for native Australians and for visitors from overseas. Its popularity means it can offer a fine variety of holiday accommodation, including apartments and villas. Pet-friendly and family-friendly options are plentiful in the region.
Coffs Harbour can trace its most recent history back to the early 19th century when local legend claims escaped convicts established a settlement. It became a busy port thanks to the timber industry while fishing and sugar cane have also been important contributors to its economy. However, it is the cultivation of bananas that has helped Coffs Harbour expand into the busy city it is today – in fact, one of its most popular and fun attractions is the Big Banana theme park.
For most visitors to Australia, the beach is the biggest draw, the famous Aussie outdoors lifestyle epitomised by the sun, sand, sea and surf. So it’s no surprise that Coffs Harbour can boast of three excellent main beaches close to the city centre, the most popular of which is Park Beach, thanks to its fine surfing and swimming conditions. It is close to Park Beach that the major of holiday rentals, such as apartments and self-contained accommodation, can be found as well as Park Beach Plaza, the biggest shopping mall in the area.
You might even bump into a Hollywood icon while wandering around Coffs Harbour as the city has become famous as a celebrity retreat recently. Residents include Russell Crowe, Bryan Brown and Rachel Ward.
Just across from Park Beach is the Coffs Harbour Jetty area, a historically important timber wharf that is currently being developed into a cultural precinct. The adjacent Jetty Beach offers sheltered swimming, thanks to the marina break wall.
Coffs Harbour’s dual position as a busy working city and holiday resort means there is plenty to see and do in the city centre itself, from boutique and high street shopping to a bustling bar and restaurant scene.
Solitary Islands Marine Park is a 50-mile stretch of coastline, including islands, shores, reefs, beaches and estuaries from Coffs Harbour north to the Sandon River. The area has been the ancestral home of the indigenous Gumbaingirr people for thousands of years and it remains a sacred place today.
Wedge-tailed shearwaters, a protected species known as “mutton birds”, nest on the shores of Muttonbird Island before making their way north during the Australian winter while humpback whales can be seen as they swim serenely through these waters on their way to warmer breeding grounds before returning the same way to their Antarctic home. The whole marine park is simply a feast for the senses, as diving and snorkelling enthusiasts will discover as they explore its waters.
Coffs Harbour is, in fact, surrounded by national parks and nature reserves. Others worth seeking out include Uldarra National Park and Bruxner Park Flora Reserve, where Sealy Lookout also provides a splendid view of the whole city.
A view of a different kind can be found at Point Lookout, some two hours’ drive west of Coffs Harbour, in the centre of the New England National Park. This 5,127ft high peak is on the edge of the Great Dividing Range and at that height the air is sub alpine but the chill is worth braving for the breathtaking views – mountain ridges and valleys with the coast in the distance.
The sheer variety of attractions in Coffs Harbour and its surrounding area certainly explain the city’s popularity and with holiday accommodation to suit every budget, it will certainly top many holidaymakers’ wish lists of places to visit.
Coffs Harbour has a climate that is subtropical, bringing warm and hot summers with seasonal rainfall. Its winters are mild and cool but dry. If visiting during the summer months from January to March, expect average daily temperatures of 27°C, while winter temperatures average a pleasant 19°C. Its position on the coast means Coffs Harbour enjoys some cooling breezes on the hottest days but discerning travellers might want to choose holiday rentals that offer air conditioning.
UK travellers heading to Coffs Harbour have a choice of international airport to fly into as the city is almost halfway between Sydney and Brisbane and the major airlines fly to both cities from London’s Heathrow Airport. Connecting flights go direct to Coffs Harbour from where local transport can be picked up easily. Those with a sense of adventure might want to consider driving the Pacific Highway in a rented car – the journey is around six hours from Sydney and five hours from Brisbane. Car rental also offers more independence for those keen to explore the wider region around Coffs Harbour from their holiday accommodation base.