The Bellingen Community Markets, held monthly (on the third Saturday of each month), are the biggest and the best markets in the Coffs Harbour region, probably in Northern NSW as well, and perhaps even in Australia.
With around 250 stalls set up all around leafy Bellingen Park, you can spend hours at the market, which has such a good atmosphere and live music and performances that it feels less like a normal market but more like a festival that you get to enjoy every month.
The Bellingen Markets: 250 stalls under the trees in the park
Of course, Bellingen is known for its laid-back character, interesting locals and alternative lifestyles. This adds to the lovely, casual ambience you’ll find anywhere around the town and at the markets as well (cue massage tents and tarot reading stalls).
Did you know you can go ice skating in subtropical Coffs Harbour? And if you knew, have you ever tried it? I’ve known there was an indoor ice rink at The Big Banana ever since I moved here, and I’ve always been keen to try it out, but for some reason I’ve only recently put on those skates – and I loved it.
Ice skating at The Big Banana ice rink, Coffs Harbour: fun for the whole family
(You’ll also find a short VIDEO at the bottom of this post)
I was afraid it would be a tiny ice rink but it was actually bigger than expected. I’ve been to an indoor ice skating rink before where you all you could do was go around in tiny circles, but at the Coffs Harbour ice rink, you can actually pick up some decent speed on the straight stretches before having to turn the corner.
Raining in Coffs Harbour? Stuck for things to do? In this blog post, I’ll list a bunch of wet weather ideas for the Coffs Harbour region.
The Coffs Coast is a subtropical region and we do get our fair share of rain throughout the year. If you’d rather not tackle outdoor activities when it rains, or when it threatens to rain, don’t worry – Coffs Harbour has plenty of things to do on a rainy day.
Do you dive? If not, you can see what the underwater world of the Solitary Islands Marine Park looks like at the Solitary IslandsAquarium (formerly the National Marine Science Centre Aquarium) in Coffs Harbour.
Find out more about Coffs Coast fish and other sea creatures at the Coffs Aquarium
The Aquarium is normally open on Saturday and Sunday only, however it opens daily during NSW school holidays. It makes a nice brief outing for a rainy day on the weekend. Treat yourself and have lunch or coffee at Pacific Bay Resort afterwards – the aquarium is located right beside the resort, after all.
I love whale-watching season in Coffs Harbour! It makes all those walks over Muttonbird Island and any other headland and coastal lookout point that much more exciting!
Will we see whales today? If so, how many? And will they merely spout some spray into the air to alert us to their presence, will we see their backs glide gently out of and back into the water, will there be some tails up in the air or are they putting on a full-on breaching and tail-flapping show for us?
Watching mighty humpback whales in the ocean off Coffs Harbour
No matter how many times you’ve seen whales, because they’re so mighty and so unpredictable, every time you see one it’s exciting again. And it unites people, pointing them out to those who haven’t spotted them yet and going “oh” and “ah” and “wow” in unison.
Cycling is becoming increasingly popular in and around Coffs Harbour. There are at least four bicycle shops in Coffs Harbour alone, various cycle groups and clubs and regular community rides and events.
One popular cycle route is the cycle path along Hogbin Drive between Coffs Harbour and the neighbouring village of Sawtell. The cycleway is separated from the road by a nature strip so it’s a safe and relaxing ride. And Sawtell makes a fun destination.
Just the stretch along Hogbin Drive is 6km, but if you go from the centre of Coffs Harbour to the centre of Sawtell it’s 10km. That’s a distance you can easily do in one hour (i.e. going a very leisurely 10km/hr).
A tree-lined section of the Hogbin Drive cycleway, Coffs Harbour - Sawtell
We enjoy meeting up with friends early on Sunday morning at the start of Hogbin Drive and riding to Sawtell to have breakfast before making our way back.
One of the best kept secrets of the Coffs Coast is Red Rock – a tiny but beautiful village half an hour north of Coffs Harbour. It is situated by the beach and along Red Rock/Corindi River, and borders Yuraygir National Park.
If the weather is good, Red Rock is the perfect destination for a relaxing day out with your special someone or the whole family.
The picturesque park by Red Rock River invites a rest, a picnic and a swim
Here is a list of suggestions for things to do in Red Rock:
Coffs Harbour and surrounding towns have lots of great regular markets, but my favourite one, and the one I would recommend to anyone visiting Coffs Harbour, is the weekly outdoor market held on the foreshores between the Coffs Harbour Yacht Club and the Jetty every Sunday morning.
They’re called the Harbourside Markets. Not to be confused with the Jetty Markets, which are held indoors underneath the Jetty Village Shopping Centre.
The Harbourside market stalls are set up underneath the trees and the atmosphere is really laid-back. It’s the perfect way to start your Sunday.
There's a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere at the Harbourside Markets
There’s always something happening in and around Coffs Harbour, but I thought it would be good to give an overview of just the biggest Coffs Harbour events and festivals – the most popular ones that are held every year.
For more information on any of these, click on the link to go to the relevant website.
Overview of the main annual Coffs Harbour events and Coffs Harbour festivals:
If you’ve got an hour or two to kill and perhaps it’s raining or it’s too hot to be walking around outside, I recommend you pay a visit to Coffs Harbour’s quirky Bunker Cartoon Gallery.
The World War II Bunker has been turned into a fabulous gallery space
It’s a unique and funky little art gallery housed in an authentic, underground WWII bunker. It’s also Australia’s first and only dedicated cartoon gallery and has the largest collection of contemporary cartoons in the Southern Hemisphere (22,000 works and counting).
All cartoons, caricatures and comic strips have been catalogued and are available in folders and as a digital, interactive display for viewing at your leisure.
Exhibitions – both from the gallery’s own collection and other artists – change regularly and include the Bald Archy Prize and Marnie Yeates’ Nature Photography exhibitions.