A visit to the lush rainforest at Dorrigo National Park should be on everyone’s itinerary when they’re staying in Coffs Harbour.
Dorrigo National Park is only 65km (1 hour by car) from the heart of Coffs via the scenic Waterfall Way, which starts to climb up Dorrigo Mountain after you’ve passed through Bellingen (very much worth a visit in its own right).
Amazing twisted tree branches (or are they aerial roots?) at Dorrigo National Park
I always take visitors on a day trip to this national park, as it’s sure to make an impression on both Australian and overseas visitors. The scenery at Dorrigo National Park is stunning and there are some very accessible walks that I recommend doing.
For a great walk in the rainforest only 5km from Coffs Harbour, you have to visit Bruxner Park Flora Reserve. In addition to several signposted walking trails, there is also a fantastic lookout point over all of Coffs Harbour – Sealy Lookout – at 310 metres above sea level.
The walking tracks at Bruxner Park are only a 10-minute drive from the CBD, which make them the closest rainforest walks to the Coffs Harbour city centre.
Immerse yourself in a rainforest experience just 10mins from Coffs Harbour
These bushwalks are so near and so easily accessible that you’ll have no excuse not to go there at least once. It’s amazing how many Coffs Harbour residents have never actually walked along these forest trails.
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.
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
Sometimes you feel like a walk on the beach, but other times you like to go somewhere where there are more trees, more birds and there’s more shade. But you don’t always want to make a daytrip out of it by driving to a National Park somewhere. At those times, the Coffs Creek Walk is ideal!
The Coffs Creek Walk is right in town but nicely hidden away between the trees, and I can guarantee you’ll feel far away from it all. It’s a real bushwalk through the forested fringes of Coffs Creek, with several boardwalk sections across wetland areas and mangroves.
The Coffs Creek Walk is a real bush walk right in the middle of Coffs
Reasons to do the Coffs Creek Walk – or sections of it:
Coffs Harbour’s historic Jetty (1892) is a great destination any time of day or year, but the atmosphere can be especially magical around sunset. Not to mention when there’s a full moon as well, rising from behind Muttonbird Island.
I dare say that the Jetty at sunset is the top choice for local couples to have their bridal pictures taken, and you’ll see at least one bride and groom there most Saturday afternoons or early evening.
The Coffs Harbour Jetty and Muttonbird Island at dusk and with a full moon
The Coffs Harbour Jetty (which is heritage protected) juts out into the harbour and you’ll get a good look, from many angles depending on where you stop to enjoy the view, at:
About 15km north of Coffs Harbour is a village called Emerald Beach. It’s in a very pretty location and worth a visit even just to respond to the southern headland’s ‘call’… “Look At Me Now” is its name. And go and look at it you should, in my opinion.
To get there, drive north from Coffs Harbour, take the Emerald Beach turnoff from the Highway onto Fiddaman Road and turn right at Dammerel Crescent to the carpark at the foot of the headland.
Look At Me Now Headland is part of Moonee Beach Nature Reserve. There’s a short walking trail that takes you up and around the headland, which is a significant Aboriginal site.
Start of short walking track at Look At Me Now Headland
One activity that is a typical Coffs Harbour thing to do, doesn’t cost any money and NEVER gets boring, is to go for a walk along the North Wall (the northern breakwall along the Coffs Harbour International Marina) and up onto and over Muttonbird Island (and back, of course).
View from the top of Muttonbird Island over Coffs Harbour
Muttonbird Island is unique because:
although it’s an island, you can walk to it because it’s attached to the mainland via the northern breakwall, so it’s very accessible;
it’s a seabird rookery and is home to thousands of muttonbirds (wedge-tailed shearwaters, is what they’re called officially) between August and April;
there’s a paved path over the top to the other side (1km return), giving you unsurpassed 360-degree views from the top back over Coffs Harbour, along the coast, the beaches and the ocean;
there’s a viewing platform at the end from where you can watch for passing humpback whales between May and November;
it’s a Nature Reserve and the NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service has put up interpretive signs with interesting information about the shearwaters/muttonbirds and marine life such as the whales.