New South WalesNorth CoastChill-out and unwind, surrounded by great surf, excellent fishing, uncrowded beaches, stellar food and wine, and a lush hinterland jam-packed with walks and native wildlife.
Enjoy the good life, on the NSW North Coast. If you’re looking for a relaxing, rejuvenating holiday, you’re spoilt for choice here - it’s the kind of place where you’ll want to kick up your heels and stay awhile. With its lazy beachside towns, lush rolling hinterland, world-heritage listed rainforest and homegrown produce that’s wrapped up in a thriving food and wine scene, you can see why it’s one of the world’s top holiday destinations. Make sure you take the time to meet the locals. You’ll find the original hippy surfers rubbing shoulders with farmers and big-city sea-changers alike, they’re all walking around with that North Coast glow.
Port Stephens is an idyllic coastal paradise. Fabulous scenery typified by volcanic peaks along the coastline to crystal clear bays fringed by golden sand, Port Stephens offers the latest in modern comforts and a wealth of attractions. Cruise out onto the bay to enjoy a dolphin watch with resident bottlenose dolphins, or even go whale watching in season. Hire a jet ski or learn to scuba dive. Take in a little history enjoying morning tea at the Inner Lighthouse, fly down hill on the toboggan run, quad biking on the sand dunes, or even down giant 40 metre sand dunes on a sand board, then sit back and relax enjoying fresh local seafood at one of the waterfront restaurants. If you want to do something really different, have a swim at the local nudist beach. Whatever your reason for visiting Port Stephens it's guaranteed you'll have the best of times.
Merewether Beach, home of international surfing competition, Surfest, the reserve stretches from Dixon Park in the north to Burwood Beach in the south - with superb views in all directions. Enjoy a coffee at a beachside cafe and watch as locals walk their dogs, parents juggle caffeine and kids with sandy hair, and the surfers roll-up by the dozen. Walk a bit further down the beach promenade and you'll find Merewether Ocean Baths, the largest Ocean Baths complex in the Southern Hemisphere.
The friendly beachside city of Coffs Harbour is Coffs Coast's vibrant heart. Surrounded by National Parks and facing the Solitary Islands Marine Park, the natural environment and uncrowded beaches are complemented by exciting activities and attractions, excellent shopping, fantastic accommodation and award-winning cafes and restaurants. Coffs Harbour sits in a unique position where the Great Dividing Range meets the Australian east coast. The subtropical city lies between the forested hills and sparkling blue waters. Coffs Harbour is a modern city with a small-town atmosphere and the hub from which to explore Coffs Coast's enormous selection of things to see and do. Take a stroll along the Jetty foreshores, the historic Jetty itself, the Marina and Northern breakwall and admire the scenic harbour views. The hilly island dominating this view is Muttonbird Island, home to thousands of wedge-tailed shearwaters. Its walking track offers exceptional views back to Coffs Harbour.
Byron Bay is a popular beach resort with an alternative coastal lifestyle. Known for its pristine white sand surfing beaches and surrounding beautiful rainforests, Byron Bay enjoys a relaxed and informal lifestyle. Stay at one of the many beautiful accommodation retreats, indulge in a luxury spa treatment or visit one of the many therapeutic healing centres in Byron. Enjoy the rich variety of adventure sports, boutique shopping, fine dining and live entertainment. The popular art and craft market is held the first Sunday of every month. The Cape Byron Lighthouse dominates Australia's most easterly point and is a popular place to visit for its spectacular views. Surrounding towns include Brunswick Heads, Mullumbimby (the biggest little town in NSW) and Bangalow (for antiques and crafts). Byron Bay is a short drive to Ballina, Lennox Head and the Tweed area.
Caves Beach is well known for its namesake - a network of sea caves at the southern end of the beach, which can be explored at low tide. Caves Beach has well maintained barbecue facilities and a picnic area. Bring the family down to Caves Beach for a great day out.
Located just north west of Cape Byron and the lighthouse, Wategos Beach is one of Byron’s best places to picnic, paddle and play. You’ll adore the peaceful beauty of this sheltered beach on the northern side of Cape Byron. Protected by the headland from the wilder waters beyond, it’s a fabulous spot to picnic and play. The local bottlenose dolphins use it for recreation as well, showing off their silky surfing skills on the incoming waves. You can cook up your lunch on one of the free beachside barbecues and enjoy your picnic on the beach or at one of the picnic tables. After you’ve cooled off and refueled you’ll be ready to tackle the steep steps at the beach’s end up to Cape Byron and the lighthouse.
The town of Lennox Head is a popular destination for surfers with famous surf breaks at Boulders and Lennox Point. Visit the headland for breathtaking views or head to Pat Morton Lookout for whale and dolphin spotting. Try hang-gliding over the beautiful coastline. Beautiful bush tracks and pathways from the town up to lookout. Explore Lake Ainsworth, hidden between the white sands of Lennox's Seven Mile Beach and the wildlife-rich coastal heathland. The fresh waters of the Lake are stained 'billy-tea' dark by the tea trees that fringe its banks. Swim in its deep red waters, skim its shimmering surface on a sailboard or go canoeing. The lake's shores are perfect for camping or enjoying the monthly Lennox Head markets.
Solitary Islands Marine Park
The Solitary Islands Marine Park is the third largest marine protected area in New South Wales. It covers a total area of 71,000 hectares and extends along 75 kilometres of coast, from Coffs Harbour north to the Sandon River mouth. The park is home to a huge diversity of marine life, with a tropical, temperate and sub-tropical species of fish, coral and algae being the main attraction for divers. Signage indicates where specific activities such as diving, fishing and collecting may be undertaken. The marine park includes the tidal waters of estuaries, beaches and headlands within its boundaries and is protected by a special zoning scheme designed to protect fish habitat. Marine park comprises sanctuary zones; refuge zones and general use areas covering 75 kilometres.
Waterfall Way Scenic Drive
The 185 kilometre Waterfall Way scenic drive links Coffs harbour and Armidale, passing rainforest, river valleys and waterfalls, including New England and Dorrigo National Parks. You could cover Waterfall Way scenic drive in about two-and-a-half hours, but with so many amazing stops along the way, it could take you all day. Starting at Coffs Harbour, the scenic drive traverses five national parks and winds through lush rainforest, waterfalls, open woodlands and farmland as you approach Armidale. Ebor Falls should not be missed. Two grandiose waterfalls and an amazing scenic walk along the escarpment edge. All this is just a few minutes walk from Ebor Falls car park. The road winds steeply through the lush rainforest of Dorrigo National Park to a height of 750 metres at Dorrigo Mountain. Other highlights of the drive include the granite tors in Cathedral Rock National Park, Point lookout in New England National Park, and the Wollomombi Gorge and Falls picnic area, near Armidale, which has one of the state’s highest drops.
Dorrigo National Park
Dorrigo National Park is only an hour from Coffs Harbour and yet if feels miles away. Visit World Heritage listed rainforests on a school excursion or day trip; magnificent waterfall walks, scenic barbecue areas and excellent birdwatching opportunities await you. Dorrigo National Park, part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area offers stunning scenery that has been millions of years in the making. The park contains a range of forest types that protect an enormous variety of animals and birds, like red-necked pademelons, the vibrantly coloured wompoo fruit-dove and the spectacular regent bowerbird. A great daytrip from Coffs Harbour, you can go birdwatching, relax at scenic picnic and barbecue spots, explore secret waterfalls and rainforest walks and be amazed by the views from the elevated walk which looks all the way from the forest to the sea. Be sure to stop in at the Dorrigo Rainforest Centre and Canopy Cafe.
Directly connected to Dorrigo Rainforest Centre, Skywalk lookout offers a bird’s-eye view of the surrounding landscape. Perched right on the edge of the escarpment, the views take in Bellinger Valley to the coast with deep valleys and gorges, blanketed in a rich rainforest. If birdwatching is of interest, look for regent bowerbirds, topknot pigeons and grey goshawks. Skywalk lookout is a 70 metre boardwalk that soars over the edge of the escarpment some 21 metres above the rainforest. Easily accessible, anyone can enjoy the panoramic views of the Rosewood rainforest basin. If you prefer a closer look, stretch your legs along Rosewood Creek walking track. The view is dominated by the double peak of McGraths Hump, also known as Old Man Dreaming. In Aboriginal Gumbaynggirr legend, it shows the profile of a warrior’s face, Ngali. It was Ngali’s job to protect women who came to give birth in Bellinger Valley. But Ngali fell asleep, and for his punishment he was turned to stone for all eternity.
South West Rocks
South West Rocks is where the Macleay River's journey ends, as it meets the sea. This beautiful area has clear aquamarine waters, pristine bays fringed by light-coloured sands. There are two dive centres based at South West Rocks - Fish Rock Dive Centre and South West Rocks Dive Centre. There are also a couple of fishing charter operators offering deep sea fishing - Sea Urchin Charters and The Rocks Fishing Charters. The Visitor Information Centre is housed within the Heritage Listed Pilot Station Complex. There is a variety cafes and restaurants, cinema, country club, hotel and tavern. South West Rocks has a large variety of accommodation including bed and breakfasts, campgrounds, holiday parks, holiday rentals, motels and self-contained accommodation.
Trial Bay Gaol
Step back in time on a guided tour of Trial Bay Gaol, soaking up the history and the amazing coastal views that surround it. The gaol opened in 1886, after 13 years of construction. It must have been a strange feeling building a prison in such a beautiful setting. The prison labourers were there to construct a breakwater to make Trial Bay a safe harbour between Sydney and Brisbane. Unfortunately the scheme failed, however you’ll still be able to see the remains of the breakwater from the guard tower lookout. During World War I the gaol became an internment camp for people of German descent who were feared to be enemy sympathisers. Today, this picturesque historic ruin stands as a testament to those who lived and died here, with a museum and memorial for visitors to get a better idea of life in those days. Feeling energetic? Try the nearby Powder Magazine walking track or Monument Hill walking track. Due to current health advice on social distancing, please contact the business for the most up to date information regarding opening times and services.
Lake Macquarie Cruises
Welcome to Lake Macquarie, home to the largest permanent coastal saltwater lake in the southern hemisphere and home to 30 kilometres of pristine coastline and some of the most beautiful waterways in New South Wales. On a Lake twice the size of Sydney Harbour, there’s a lot to fall in love with and plenty of opportunities to see, try and do. Of course, the best way to see the lake is to be on it and Lake Macquarie Cruises offer a range of scheduled public cruises and private charter options for you to enjoy. Step aboard their vessel the M.V. Lady Mac and let their friendly crew share their love of the lake with you. Their vessel has a newly refurbished interior, new furnishings and is equipped with a boom net, alfresco sun deck, and a foredeck which is the perfect location to spot dolphins riding their bow wave. Due to current health advice on social distancing, please contact the business for the most up to date information regarding opening times and services.
Lake Macquarie State Conservation Area
The bush backyard of Newcastle and the Central Coast is a hiker’s and boatie’s paradise - bushwalking, canoeing, kayaking, and other water sports await. Come and enjoy the blissful lake lifestyle at Lake Macquarie. Twice the size of Sydney Harbour, it’s the biggest permanent saltwater lake in the Southern Hemisphere and provides stunning views, countless opportunities for boating, fishing and water sports, and is a haven for birdwatchers and nature-lovers. Whether you like to bushwalk with only the lapping of water on the shore for company, enjoy long relaxed family picnics, or prefer to kayak with a line off the side to catch dinner, this park is very accessible - it’s nestled between Newcastle and the Central Coast. You can explore the coves and headlands in any season, and the water is lovely in summer if you need to cool off after a long walk.
Clarence Valley Canoe and Kayak Trail: longest whitewater trail in Australia
The Clarence Canoe and Kayak Trail is the longest whitewater trail in Australia! Covering more than 195 kilometres of river between the Nymboi-Binderay National Park and the township of Copmanhurst, encompassing the Nymboida, Mann and Clarence river systems. It offers spectacular scenery, an abundance of wildlife and some exhilarating whitewater adventure. Covering more than 195 kilometres of river between Nymboi-Binderay National Park and the township of Copmanhurst, this is officially New South Wales’ greatest hidden gem (and Australia’s longest mapped whitewater trail). Combining three wild river systems; the Nymbodia, Mann and Clarence, there is something to please all paddling palates across the eight map sections whether you’re into bone-rattling rapids or zen-like cruising. The trail can be completed in day sections or as one long adventure with primitive camping grounds along the route. Find a local guide to experience the trail with ease. Sections: The Junction – Cartmill Park Cartmill Park – Buccarumbi Buccarumbi – Nymboida River Campground Nymboida River Campground – Jackadgery Jackadgery – Cangai Broadwater Cangai Broadwater – The Gorge The Gorge – Winegrove Winegrove – Copmanhurst
Tweed Heads sits on the Tweed River with beautiful golden beaches and waterways. Enjoy surfing and swimming at one of its beaches or boating, fishing and crabbing on the Tweed River. The town of Tweed Heads offers excellent restaurants, cafes and shops. Visit Point Danger Lookout on the New South Wales and Queensland border that overlooks the popular surf break at Duranbah Beach. Captain James Cook named the lookout as he sailed up the east coast of Australia to warn of dangerous coral reefs off the coast.
Tweed Eco Cruises
It's time to escape, relax unwind and see some beautiful blue water, mangrove islands and rainforest coming down to the Tweed riverbank edge, complimented by the best local fresh seafood and produce on board their boats, here at Tweed Eco Cruises. Their cruises operate under the watchful eye of Mt Warning in Tweed Heads. You can choose to leave the world behind on the heritage rain forest cruise, meandering up the Tweed River, seeing birds of prey, visiting an historical village, hear, see, and feel history. Their Crabs and Yabbies tour you will go overboard! Getting your feet wet exploring the upper mangrove islands hunting the delicacy of the region the famed Tweed River Mud Crab. Caught and cooked up on board their Muddies, while you throw a line overboard waiting for your lunch to go from crab pot to plate! The ultimate exclusive adventure is being offered by Tweed Endeavour Cruises, the Pot to Plate adventure, come out with local crabber, on board his boat, do a tour that no one else can offer. Explore regions of the lakes that no -one see's except the local fisho's, dining on sand banks and in the oyster farm. Due to current health advice on social distancing, please contact the business for the most up to date information regarding opening times and services.
Hat Head National Park
Hat Head National Park on the mid-north coast of NSW near South West Rocks is a natural paradise. Explore the lighthouse, camp by the beach and go fishing and swimming. Hat Head National Park, near Kempsey, is a place of exceptional beauty. The beaches, sand dunes, rainforest and wetlands offer an ideal backdrop for bushwalking, camping or a quiet picnic. There is a choice of campgrounds, including campsites right by the beach, or you could stay at the Smoky Cape lighthouse keepers’ cottage with its stunning coastal views, be sure to take a guided tour. There are lots of walking tracks to choose from, excellent fishing and whale watching. Birdwatchers can look for black swans and spoonbills in the park’s wetlands, hawks and eagles soaring above beach cliffs and shorebirds like curlews and plovers around the beach.
Discover more in New South Wales
- Blue Mountains
- Bondi Beach
- Bundanoon & Surrounds
- Byron Bay
- Central Coast, NSW
- Coffs Harbour
- Country NSW
- Hunter Valley
- Jervis Bay
- Lord Howe Island
- Merimbula & Sapphire Coast
- Mungo National Park
- Murramarang National Park
- North Coast
- Outback NSW
- Port Macquarie
- Port Stephens
- Snowy Mountains
- South Coast, NSW
- South West Rocks
- Sydney Harbour
- The Mallee Region
- The Murray
- Tilba Tilba