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Cooling off in Coffs

Once upon a time a Coffs Harbour holiday conjured images of the Big Banana. These days the array of family activities available between Coffs Harbour and Nambucca Heads are endless and only limited by your time and spirit of adventure! Michelle Pettigrove reports.

Halfway between Sydney and Brisbane, Coffs Harbour and Nambucca Heads are part of a world-class stretch of beaches aptly known as the ‘Holiday Coast’. Between the two towns lies more than 50 kilometres of stunning bays, estuaries and subtropical rainforest, providing a year-round magnet for families searching for the perfect holiday. Whether you’re looking for the back-to-nature tranquillity of the bush, or prefer the latest, state-of-the-art holiday activities, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for and more.

Surf’s up

Coffs and Nambucca have cornered the market on Fun Things To Do At The Beach. On a recent visit, our family ran out of time long before we exhausted our list. If you’ve always wanted to experience the thrill of hanging 10 on a pristine wave you’ve come to the right place. The Trent Munro Surf Academy, based in the picturesque Nambucca Valley, offers lessons for every level of surfing ability and every age. Georgia honed her skills as I practiced my long-lens sports photography!

If you’re searching for a way the whole family can hit the waves together, try the relatively new ocean-based adventure developed by Liquid Assets Adventure Company… surf rafting on the famous surf break of Park Beach. Your imagination has probably served you well if you pictured a blow-up raft being lifted by waves and thrust madly towards the shore. Plenty of laughs, some daring wave action, and a good deal of falling in, make for great family memories.

Run away to the circus

For the family looking for something totally different, imagine the stories you’ll have to tell after you join the circus for a day and master the flying trapeze! Zip Circus has turned more than a few heads by setting up school in the grounds of the Novotel Coffs Harbour Pacific Bay Resort, where it provides safe and professional training to anyone over the age of three in the art of flying trapeze. Abandon your fears and embrace the challenge… it’s unforgettable!

Animal adventures

Of course on any visit to Coffs, the Pet Porpoise Pool is a must-see. This interactive park offers the chance for the family to pat dolphins, receive a kiss from a seal and learn all about these frisky marine animals.

Adventure in this part of the world isn’t all fast-paced though. Try a relaxing stroll along beautiful Boambee Beach on the back of a friendly camel! Allan Atkinson from Coffs Coast Camels offers tranquil rides meandering along vast expanses of white sand, then leads his trusty train home through the shallows, and tells stories of his experiences with these enigmatic creatures. Georgia even managed to steal a quick cuddle with her favourite.

Back to nature

Slowing your family down another notch or two, you’ll find true serenity only 60 kilometres west of Coffs Harbour in the world heritage rainforests of Dorrigo National Park. A good place to start is the Rainforest Centre and Skywalk, a 70-metre-high boardwalk, winding its way through the tops of ancient buttressed figs, giant tallow woods and rare Australian cedars. Wander along the rainforest floor to the dramatic waterfalls and try spotting lyrebirds, bowerbirds and other local wildlife.

More than 25,000 hectares of national park, nature reserve and marine park surround the Coffs/Nambucca area, and although the opportunity for bush camping in these parks is limited, there is a vast array of nature-based activities including: canoeing, bushwalking, scuba diving, snorkelling, picnicking, bird watching, swimming, fishing, mountain bike riding, horse riding, whale watching and white-water rafting.

Stay and play

A smorgasbord of family-focussed camping accommodation will ensure you enjoy your ‘down time’ as much as the adventure seeking side of your holiday. We discovered a few firm favourites, starting at the Park Beach Holiday Park just minutes from the centre of Coffs Harbour. Boasting beautifully maintained grounds, this park also offers a games room, jumping pillow, playground, an impressive resort-style pool with fountains and water slides, and a raft of fun activities for the kids.

Another terrific holiday park is the NRMA Darlington Beach Holiday Park. Georgia managed to tick all the entertainment boxes including kids’ lawn bowls, BMX riding, soccer, ping pong, tennis, archery, air hockey, swimming, jumping pillow… and all within 48 hours! Grown-ups are not forgotten either with a heated spa, nine-hole golf course and a fully licenced restaurant on the park’s premises.

It seems every holiday park these days has something special to brag about, and Emerald Beach Holiday Park has certainly found its features. Free weekly pancake breakfasts and the lure of the good old-fashioned campfire (including free marshmallows to roast) have its guests coming back for more. The heated pool, sauna and pedal go-carts are also a big hit.

Oh... and don’t forget a trip to the Big Banana! This true icon of the Coffs/Nambucca holiday now comes with the largest inflatable waterslide in the world and an ice-skating rink! We promise you, it’s still unforgettable.


Report Card

Park Beach Holiday Park:
Darlington Beach Holiday Park:
Emerald Beach Holiday Park:

Thumbs up
Surf Lessons
Surf Rafting
Flying Trapeze

Camel Rides

Don't miss
Pet Porpoise Pool

The Big Banana:

Images: 01 Park Bech Holiday Park 02 The interactive Pet Porpoise Pool 03 Georgia takes a surf lesson 04 Zip Circus

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