Gold Coast Explorer since Jan 2010. Always on the lookout for fun, family things to enjoy with my four kids.
Published April 15th 2016
The best things in life are free
Top 10 Free Fun Things Coffs Harbour
Coffs Harbour, between Sydney & Brisbane on the north coast of NSW, offers a rich and varied holiday destination. With 90km of sandy beaches, both coastal and mountain scenery, national parks and marine reserves, you are guaranteed no shortage of things to see, places to visit and memories waiting to be made. There's a wonderful array of things to do and this article offers you 10 of the best, which won't cost you anything.
View over Coffs Harbour from Muttonbird Island
Adrenalin rush Jetty Jumping is a rite of passage for Coffs Harbour locals. Watch groups of teenagers and adults of various ages taking a leap of faith as they jump off the jetty. Think of a very high telegraph pole, the ocean below, connecting the two with a large leap and you get the picture. Watch the personal drama or better still, just do it. We had great fun with this on our visit to Coffs Harbour and I'd rate it worthy of adding to your Bucket List.
Coffs Harbour Marina & Muttonbird Island
Looking back over Coffs Harbour from Muttonbird Island
Muttonbird Island is a sacred site to the local Gumbaynggirr Aboriginal people, who call the island Giidany Miirlarl, meaning moon sacred place. It's home to thousands of wedge-tailed shearwaters (called Muttonbirds by the early settlers). It's now joined to the mainland by Coffs Harbour North Wall, a 600m causeway that extends out from the mainland to the island, forming the sheltering breakwall for the marina. This means you can walk along past the yachts in the marina and cross over to the island at any time (sunrise to sunset). There is a path up the hill to viewpoints, offering amazing 360-degree ocean views. The Eastern Side Lookout, on the far side of the island, is known for being one of the best spots for whale watching during May to July and September to November when the whales migrate and offers great views over the Solitary Islands.
Enjoy this Sunday market down by Jetty Beach, with its live music, colourful craft stalls and tasty food offerings. Technically, this market experience shouldn't be listed as free however, as the quality and range of handmade products, makes it difficult to leave without buying anything. It's fun looking around the Harbourside Market as there are so many different types of products for sale and their philosophy of "locally made, locally grown" makes for a shopping experience that is uniquely, well, local. The markets run every Sunday from 8am - 2pm.
If you remember Chariots of Fire you'll know the beach running scene from this movie. It was no random location, beach running is well known for improving fitness levels. Speak to any racehorse trainer and they will praise the performance building results of morning gallops along the beach. So stretch those legs and get fit. We ran daily along Park Beach during our Easter visit and particularly enjoyed our sunrise and sunset runs. Watching the coastal scenery pass by, running through the edge of the ocean if you enjoy barefoot running on the sand (includes free foot massage) and watching the sun sparkle off the water, is also simply good for the soul.
Coffs Coast Beaches
North of the Marina causeway looking over to Little Muttonbird Island
With 90km of sandy beaches, it is not difficult to find a favourite spot. The toughest part of your day is deciding which beach to enjoy. Boambee Beach with passing camels? Jetty beach so we can Jetty Jump? Jetty beach is sheltered which makes it a good swimming option for those with young children. The start and finish point for the annual Coffs Ocean Swim, around Easter, is next to the jetty. The races are fun to watch as the finish is quite competitive and you have a great elevated view if you watch from up on the pier.
Park Beach is a great place to go for a run. (Swimmers be aware Park Beach can be prone to strong rips particularly at the creek mouth). Park Beach Reserve, which is on the banks of Coffs Creek, is next to the Park Beach car park and popular with families. Diggers Beach is where you will find the local surfers.
The Clog Barn
You will be forgiven for thinking you'd arrived in Holland when you get to the Clog Barn. You can watch traditional wooden clog shoes being made and walk around a Dutch model village, based on buildings in Holland. The clog making demonstrations (3 daily - at 11am, 2pm & 4pm) and mini village visit are free or you can choose to leave a donation to help the building fund.
This 60km walk lies between the coastal villages of Sawtell (at Bonville Headland) in the south to Red Rock in the north. You can walk as much or as little as you want. Choose whether to do a short stroll along e.g. the headland at Park Beach (as shown in the image below) or pick different sections to walk or go the complete distance over 4 days and conquer the whole thing. This scenically stunning walk links golden beaches, rocky headlands and lush rainforest and is extra memorable during whale watching season.
Free Guided Tours
Image courtesy of Coffs Harbour City Council
Weekly free guided tours run year round with Coffs Ambassador Tours. The tours are a Coffs Harbour City Council program. The tour guides generously volunteer their time because they are passionate about sharing their knowledge of the area they know and love. On the 14 unique tours, you'll hear about the local stories, history and wildlife of the region. They invite you to:
"discover Coffs' best kept secrets - stunning headlands, beaches, rainforests and gardens".
The Botanic Gardens in Coffs Harbour is located on a 20 hectare site and surrounded on three sides by Coffs Harbour Creek. These beautiful gardens are home to rare and endangered Australian species, as well as exotic plant species that thrive in the climate on the Coffs Coast. It's open 9am – 5pm every day of the week throughout the year and is a popular venue for weddings.
You can also enjoy free guided walks here too, every 3rd Sunday of the month, starting at 10am at the Garden entrance.The Garden is located on the corner of Hardacre and Coff Streets.
Coffs Coast Free App and brochure
There are more things to do around Coffs and you can discover them in a great free brochure style guidebook: "101 Things To Do on Coffs Coast". To view the book online, click here. Or you can call the Visitors Centre (02 6648 4990) to receive a copy in the post. You can also get one at the Coffs Coast Visitors Centre at the Big Banana. It is a great summary of all the things to see and do in the area and very useful when planning a trip to Coffs Harbour.
You are a great ambassodor for Coffs Harbour, Susan. These are the sorts of things I love about visiting somewhere new because the tourist attractions are great but they don;t often show what a place is really like, it the day to day of things.