I'm a Victorian freelance writer & photographer living in the Macedon Ranges north of Melbourne.
Published August 20th 2019
Family holiday hotspot
You'll find the delightful little coastal township of Urunga on the New South Wales mid-north coast, just south of Coffs Harbour.
At the mouth of the Kalang and Bellinger Rivers, Urunga is a popular holiday spot with an attractive caravan park right in the centre of town. There's a great selection of shops and businesses along its two main streets, a golf course, wonderful bowls club, good fishing, a great coastal boardwalk and a climate of predominantly mild winters and warm summers.
Low tide at the confluence of the Kalang and Bellinger Rivers provides a great visual backdrop to the classic seaside village of Urunga. Photo: Copyright Ian Gill / Footloose Media
Urunga has a stress free, unhurried feel about it with none of the high-rise development common in other centres along this stretch of the NSW coast.
Originally known as Bellinger Heads, Urunga was a busy port engaged primarily in the export of cedar cut in the rugged hinterland and floated down the river to waiting ships; no easy feat given the dangerous state of the bar at the river mouth.
Urunga's impressive boardwalk starts right on the edge of town .....
..... and extends to the treacherous river mouth and adjacent surf beach. Photo: Copyright Ian Gill / Footloose Media
In 1868, a Pilot Station was built and later a steam tug was employed to help vessels cross the bar and navigate the narrow channel. A number of ships were lost over the years before a breakwater was constructed but in the end, it was the technology that sealed the port's fate with improved road and rail transport offering better options.
The boardwalk stretches over a kilometre to the river mouth with great views to the ocean beyond, back to town and the peaks of the Great Dividing Range. From the ocean end, on a good day, you can see to Myleston Spit to the north and beyond Nambucca Heads to the south. Along the length of the boardwalk are a series of signs and historic photographs detailing significant events in the development of the town.
Dating back to 1896, the former School of Arts & Literary Institute building in Morgo Street is home to Urunga Museum, which houses a great little collection of local artefacts dating back to the pre-European settlement.
On the hill behind the boardwalk, you'll find the old Pilot's Cottage at Number 4 Morgo Street. Built in 1876, this beautifully restored and now private residence was obviously built for its commanding view to the river mouth.
The former School of Arts & Literary Institute is now home to a great little museum detailing Urunga's history and maritime heritage. Photo: Copyright Ian Gill / Footloose Media
Urunga is a great spot for a family holiday with both sheltered and ocean beaches along with a variety of water-borne activities, sporting venues, parks and walking trails. It's also a fisherman's paradise offering the usual bream, flathead and whiting together with some excellent mulloway, trevally and mango jack.
The town itself boasts two public boat ramps and plenty of sandy river banks four launching canoes and kayaks.
Just south of Urunga, at Wenonah Headland, you'll find a small protected bay with BBQ and toilet facilities as well as four-wheel access to the beach.
The local Urunga Anglers Club use this area to launch boats for off-shore fishing, going after reef species such as schnapper, kingfish, perch and mulloway all year round. From December to May or June, the warmer temperatures bring with them mackerel, bluefin tuna and the occasional black marlin.
For non-fishos, Urunga also boasts three great walking loops ranging in distance from 3 to 13 Kilometres that will not only give you a great workout but will also take in a lot of the local attractions.
And then there's the pub, the grand old Ocean View Hotel. The current building dates back to 1927 but the original hotel here was built in 1895 and later destroyed by fire.
The very narrow and treacherous entry to the Bellinger River at Urunga has claimed many vessels over the centuries but remains a firm favourite with fishermen when tides and weather are right. Photo: Copyright Ian Gill / Footloose Media
Certainly, Urunga ticked all my boxes. For me, it's one of those places I could keep going back to.
Getting There …..
Urunga is roughly midway between Sydney & Brisbane and about a 20-minute drive south of Coffs Harbour.
Alternatively, Transport NSW TrainLink operates 3 daily services to Urunga on the Sydney to Brisbane line via Coffs Harbour and Grafton.