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.
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.