Endless beaches, natural beauty and family-fun awaits! If they were handing out awards for the best natural beauty in Australia, the North Coast of New South Wales would win the sash and crown.
The coastline stretches from Port Stephens in the south to The Tweed in the north, fronting onto some 700km of stunning coastline.
Water sports might be the main drawcard for this part of the world, but when you turn your head inland, you’ll also find a volcanic hinterland, UNESCO World Heritage-listed rainforest and some of Australia’s most interesting history and heritage.
If you’re taking the Legendary Pacific Coast drive route, which connects the head to the tail of the New South Wales coastline, make these activities a priority with this guide.
The ‘can’t miss’ attractions:
If you’re looking for a whole bunch of fun, look no further than Australia’s first ‘Big Thing’, the Big Banana in Coffs Harbour. While there are plenty of nods to the fibrous fruit inside, what you’re likely to find most appealing is the Giant Slide (incidentally, the biggest in the country), waterpark and toboggan ride overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
Tip – take it from us, you might want to tackle the rides first, before devouring their signature choc-coated banana available from the cafe.
Bring your wide-angle lens and most Instagrammable outfit, Caves Beach is #gorgeous. No prizes for guessing what makes it so famous when the clue is in the name, but this network of sea caves are ripe for exploring at low tide. BBQ facilities at Caves Beach make it a prime location to toss down a picnic rug while you’re waiting for the perfect light to capture that photo-worthy moment, looking through the caves and out to the ocean.
The Koala Hospital
For a quality good time, pay a visit to the historic Koala Hospital in Port Macquarie. Set inside Roto House, you can go behind the scenes with a guided tour (daily at 3pm) of the world’s first hospital dedicated to koalas. The tour coincides with feeding, a significant fact when you consider koalas sleep for 22 hours a day, where you’ll learn how you can make a difference and conserve Australia’s koala population.
Scuba diving at Fish Rock Cave
You might be a long way from the Great Barrier Reef, but you can still don a tank, mask and fins at South West Rocks. Go below the surface with Fish Rock Dive Centre to discover Fish Rock Cave, which runs 125 metres, making it one of the largest ocean caverns in the southern hemisphere. Fish Rock Cave’s proximity to the continental shelf guarantees marine diversity, so you can expect to come mask-to-face with rays, turtles, colourful fish and endangered (and completely harmless) grey nurse sharks.
Where to stay:
BIG4 Ingenia Holidays Bonny Hills
If you’re looking for a beach holiday that’s only a bucket and spade’s throw from the beach, check yourself into BIG4 Ingenia Holidays Bonny Hills. When you grow weary of the sun, sand and surf of Rainbow Beach, you can retreat to the onsite swimming pool, splash park and BBQ facilities back at home base, which promises to keep everyone entertained.
Ingenia Holidays One Mile Beach
There are no prizes for inventiveness when they were naming the suburb One Mile Beach – with one mile of beach to discover. Check into the 15 acres of Ingenia Holidays One Mile Beach to experience the best of Port Stephens. If you prefer your camera roll to be filled with action, spend your day’s whale watching, diving and snorkelling. Or, for a slower pace, enjoy the paddock-to-plate philosophy of one of the food and wine trails in Port Stephens. A seafood trail seems like a very good place to start when you’re in the home of Sydney Rock Oysters.
BIG4 Ingenia Holidays Lake Macquarie
When you’re visiting Lake Macquarie, it’s worth your while to book accommodation on the waterfront. Treat yourself to a cabin, cottage, villa or grassy powered campsite at BIG4 Ingenia Holidays Lake Macquarie, on the southern edge of the lake, just a short walk from the foreshore. Water sports are obviously on the agenda when you’ve got Australia’s largest saltwater lagoon in your front yard and onsite pool in your backyard.
BIG4 Ingenia Holidays Soldiers Point
If you do like to be beside the sea, pack your nautical clothes because Soldiers Point is calling your name. You’ll find it on the southern shores of Port Stephens, where warm summer days are spent swimming, snorkelling and fishing and balmy nights are spent enjoying the epicure of the nearby Hunter region.
Start planning your North Coast adventure today!