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Art & About in Coffs Harbour

Home > Coffs Harbour > Art | Comics | Galleries | Markets | Street Art
by Irenke Forsyth (subscribe)
A writer sharing travels, experiences, a love of festivals & events. Life is a journey and I hope to inspire others. Visit my blog at
Published September 11th 2016
Coastal beauty tempts the windows of the soul
If you've only ever passed through Coffs Harbour and checked in at the Big Banana then you're missing a whole lot more that this coastal town has to offer. There's a range of things to do and see, and for art lovers, a range of different forms of art to peruse in the streets and galleries.

Coffs Harbour art
In front of the Showground you'll find the place for ballroom dancing

Firstly some wonderful street art abounds in the city where surprises of colour catch your eye. On the main street that is the Pacific Hwy, just past the North Coast Holiday Park on the right, you'll come across some murals on buildings. One is a hall where ballroom dancing takes place and another is the Coffs Harbour Arts & Craft Group. Turn onto the gravel road and drive around the Coffs Harbour Showground where you'll spot even more walls of art. Images of kangaroos, birds, and even pop icon Prince, provide a treasure trove of art in one place.

The Showground art
The Showground has lots to offer

Travelling south back down to the centre where the bulk of shops are, turn left onto Harbour Drive, which heads towards the Jetty. On the left past Coles, you'll find this wall mural of a mischievous monkey holding what looks like blue flames. It peaked our interest and had my husband and I talking about what it meant. Also the yellow ends I reckon are bananas but he sees them as flowers. See what you think of it below.

Street art, Coffs Harbour
What is that mischievous monkey up to?

Continue down to the marina and jetty areas where there's more colour, including the local fish and chips eatery, as well as some striking advertising on maritime signal boxes. On Sundays, the Harbourside Markets at the Jetty Foreshore provide lots of stalls to peruse and we found some artists painting amongst displays of their works for sale. Free music entertains you and food vendors keep your hunger at bay. It's got a very good relaxing vibe going here with friendly stall holders and freedom to move, not overly crowded.

Coffs Harbour Marina art
A bright day at the Marina

Harbourside Markets art stall
Art stall display at the Harbourside Markets from husband and wife team, Adrian Stanborough & Rosanna Rossetti

The art continues, and like Sydney, it's nice to see boring grey signal boxes transformed in the town centre into gorgeous images. This one below was especially colourful with different sides showing fun characters.

painted signal box
This colourful signal box can be found on the Cnr Harbour Drv & Earl St

Nearby Park Ave Laneway is another place to see street art whilst up at the Big Banana you'll see the nicest Telstra public phone box with the surf and sun beckoning you to the beach, of which there are plenty along the Coffs Coast.

Park Ave Laneway art
One of many art pieces in Park Ave Laneway

public art
The nicest phone box I've ever seen

Speaking of the coastline, on the way north to Red Rock village on Corindi River, we came across more art at the Yarrawarra Aboriginal Cultural Centre. Whilst it was closed, there was plenty to photograph on the outside walls, including marine life and traditional Aboriginal dot painted images.

Yarrawarra Aboriginal Cultural Centre
Marine life is often portrayed in Aboriginal art

Aboriginal art
Wall to wall art at the Yarrawarra Aboriginal Cultural Centre

Back in town you can also find mosaic art at the local War Memorial swimming pool. Two large murals depict birds and sea creatures. There's also supposed to be a colourful mosaic whale tail along Coffs Creek Walk, along with other sculptures, but time got away from us and we didn't get to this walk.

mosaics, Coffs Harbour War Memorial Olympic Pool
Fitting mosaics at the Coffs Harbour War Memorial Olympic Pool

Galleries in Coffs are plentiful as well and showcase different forms of art on different mediums. There's the Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery with exhibitions throughout the year and children's workshops; the Greenroom Gallery with paintings and an eco-friendly boutique selling natural perfumes, beeswax candles, jewellery and organic material clothing; the Jeffrey Baker Art Gallery consisting of not only canvas and board paintings but art on musical instruments, furniture, ceilings and floors; and the Bunker Cartoon Gallery on City Hill, featuring over 20,000 cartoons, cartooning workshops and exhibitions. We chose to go to the latter, which has an interesting history, with the building serving as a WWII bunker for communications and equipment. A short video unveils the secret underground findings and transformation to the gallery of today.

Bunker Cartoon Gallery
Loads of great cartoon images to peruse in this bunker full of history

Two rooms full of interesting and humorous cartoons drawn on walls and in comic books, framed pictures and magazines, will have the memories flowing back with my favourite, Footrot Flats. One magazine that caught my eye was an edition of the French Charlie Hebdo magazine. Brought to our attention through the media and associated terrorist attacks in 2015, I perused the pages to see what all the fuss was about and even though it is written in French, it is easy to understand why Muslims may be offended by the cartoon images. There was one of a woman clad in stockings and suspenders and not much else but a hajib covering her face. All the same, not reason to kill for.

Whilst Coffs Harbour has become quite touristy, there are still many quiet beaches and options to explore and likely more art to discover in back streets and unexpected places. Especially outside of school holidays, we found our 5 days filled with things to do, cafes and restaurants to try, and more without the crowds.
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Why? For the love of art
Where: Coffs Harbour
Your Comment
Very nice article :)
by RC (score: 3|1221) 1622 days ago
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