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A local’s guide to Coffs Harbour: ‘The culture here is being outside’ | Australia holidays

A local’s guide to Coffs Harbour: ‘The culture here is being outside’ | Australia holidays


When we moved to Coffs Harbour on Gumbaynggirr country on the New South Wales mid-north coast in 2007, we really missed Sydney’s multicultural food. Thankfully, Coffs is a well-supported refugee settlement city and it didn’t take long for those communities to gift us an assortment of culinary options.

There are Syrian, Iraqi, Burmese and Indian food stalls at Harbourside Markets on Sundays. Some are brick and mortar now including Mana Chita (Ethiopian) and Pig and Khai Filipino restaurant. Everyone loves Tigi of Mana Chita – she’s a beautiful personality in the town. I love the injera bread: it’s light and holey and sour-tasting and you scoop up the curry with it. She does a super-spicy goat curry too, which many locals crave.

Harbourside Markets are held on Sundays near the jetty in Coffs Harbour. Photograph: Andrew Michael/Alamy

For fish and chips, the go-to is the Fishermen’s Co-op on the harbour but locals usually go to the backstreet one called Sea Salt. That’s where you get your fancy wild-caught fish.

When we first moved here the coffee was pretty poor. Now good coffee is everywhere. There’s a tiny Brazilian cafe called Hope Road and a lane-way cafe called My Mate’s Place. I go to Lady A to sit outside and people watch, and Supply near the beach for delicious breakfast and coffee. Dark Arts has occult kind of decor, drippy candles and velvet couches. It’s dark and cosy; ideal for a rainy day.

Green (or blue) spaces

Coffs is the only place in NSW where the Great Dividing Range continues into the ocean, creating the Solitary Islands marine park (Wajaana Yaam Gumbaynggirr Adventure Tours runs standup paddleboard tours here and in the waterways of the Orara East state forest). It’s a unique marine ecosystem where the cold southern currents meet the warm tropical currents from the north. Scuba divers come to swim with the grey nurse sharks and there are dolphins, whales and turtles. We get whale sharks here too, which is amazing.

Diving, swimming, boating and paddleboarding are ideal ways to explore the Solitary Islands marine park. Photograph: Rob Cleary/Alamy
A hidden jewel … the North Coast Regional Botanic Garden. Photograph: picturelibrary/Alamy

Jetty beach is inside the harbour so it’s great for little kids. Dogs are allowed at many of the beaches, including Woolgoolga back beach, where people surf and four-wheel drive. But Diggers beach is my favourite. You hang a right at the Big Banana to find it. There’s always a calm…

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