Had enough of winter? Can't wait to shed some layers and hit the beach?
Growing up in the north east corner of the state, Evans Head was my local beach. In the 60's and 70's there was very little in the way of facilities – a toilet block, the local fish and chip shop, and a big picnic area with shade trees and a covered pavilion. The kiosk sold chiko rolls and ice-creams. The township has grown, but ever so slightly; it's still an old-fashioned beach, and still my favourite.
These holiday spots all have something special to offer. See if you can find your own piece of paradise.
1. Evans Head The locals call it "Heavens Head". This wide curved beach goes on for as far as the eye can see, 20km in fact, perfect for 4-wheel driving. Plus, it's okay to have your dog off the leash. A fish co-op has fresh fish purchases, or sit in and have them cook it for you. There's a mini-mart, Chinese restaurant, and the best fish and chips around. Turn off the Pacific Highway at Woodburn. Silver Sands Holiday Park has cabins, powered and unpowered sites, phone 02-6682 4212.
2. Minnie Water & Wooli As you drive into Wooli, you're flanked by ocean on one side and the Wooli River on the other. Float your boat on the river, swim with dolphins in the surf, bushwalk around Minnie Water, and visit the small community of Sandon, which can only be accessed from the beach. Freshly-shucked oysters are available almost all year round. There's a General Store and Café. Turn off the Pacific Highway 12km south of Grafton. Minnie Water Holiday Park has cabins, powered and unpowered sites, phone 02-66497693.
3. Red Rock Named after the iridescent red rock formations at the mouth of the estuary, this is a bushwalkers' delight. Travel just 6 km off the Pacific Highway a half hour north of Coffs Harbour and you're immediately transported into another time zone. Do part or all of the 10km Angourie Coastal Walk. Facilities include a playground, picnic tables, barbeques, general store, amenities block and boat ramp. The North Coast Holiday Park Red Rock offers extra large sites for RV's and 5 wheelers, phone 02-6649 2730.
Feel yourself twitching? This World Heritage listed area contains the largest remnant of seaside rainforest in NSW, a bird-watching haven. Bring your binoculars and see if you can spot the Rufous Fantail, Lewins Honeyeater, Eastern Yellow Robin, White-browed Scrubwren, or the Golden Whistler. The town has a butcher, baker, post office, newsagent, chemist, and coffee shop. There are guided ranger programs during school holidays. The Riverside Tourist Park offers cabins around $95/night., phone 02-6646 6060.
5. Diamond Head
Located in Crowdy Bay National Park, see if you can find the shimmering rock faces that give Diamond Head its name. Tranquil, shady campsites are just over the dunes from the beach, making an early swim your first priority. Turn off the Pacific Highway 50 minutes south of Port Macquarie. Stay at Kylie's Hut Walk-in Campground, phone 02-6588 5555.
6. Point Plomer
If surfing is your thing then this is the place to be. Barries Bay offers world-class surfing breaks; also check out Back Beach and Race Course beach. You're guaranteed good surf in most conditions. Even the Post Office at nearby Crescent Head hires out surfboards. 4 ˝ hrs north of Sydney, turn off at Kempsey towards Crescent Head. Just before town turn right to Point Plomer. Ring the camp ground on 02-65838805.
7. Hat Head
The tallest lighthouse in NSW sits atop this granite headland in Hat Head National Park. It was completed in 1891. The light was electrified in 1962, and around 1988 it was automated. Do a Lighthouse Tour and discover how the keepers and their families survived their isolated way of life. They kept the light in operation for over 100 years. You can stay in the Lighthouse Keepers' Cottages, which offer B and B, or self-catering, phone 02-6566 6301. From Kempsey turn off the Pacific Highway to South West Rocks.
8. Stuarts Point
For peace and quiet and somewhere to park your tinnie, this is the perfect location. With little more than a general store and bowling club, let the current carry you downstream, catching a flathead or two. Stop short of the mouth of the Macleay River, and wait for the turn of the tide to carry you back to your campsite. There are great fishing spots along the beach, rocks, headland, estuary, and offshore. Turn off the highway 20 minutes south of Macksville. Stay at Stuarts Point Holiday Park, phone 1300 262 782.
9. Old Bar
The October long weekend hosts the annual Kombi Gathering and holds the Australian record for the most Kombi's gathered in one area at one time. If motorbikes are more your thing, the annual Troy Bayliss Classic World Superbike is held here each January. Plus, the kids can take part in the Summer Festival sand modelling competition. Turn off the highway near Taree, approximately 315 kms north of Sydney. Stay at pet-friendly Lani's Caravan Park, phone 02-6553 7274.
10. Mungo Brush
If you like to be on the water, rather than in it, camp the lake side of Mungo Brush Road, 22km north of Hawks Nest. A boat ramp gives you easy access to the waterways, and statuesque paperbarks frame the sunset over the lake. Myall Lakes National Park is N.S.W. largest coastal lake system with 100,000ha of sprawling waterways. Follow the lower Myall River all the way to Hawks Nest, or head off shore to Broughton Island, the only place in N.S.W. where you can camp on an island amongst an active seabird colony. Contact NPWS Great Lakes 02-65910300, for Broughton Island 13000 72757.