Home to the most significant area of subtropical rainforest on Earth, New South Wales’s Mid North Coast is a place of towering ancient trees, plunging waterfalls, rugged gorges and thunderous coastline.
The stretch of coast north of Sydney, from around Port Macquarie up to Coffs Harbour (not too far from the spot where Cook dropped his anchor) is blessed with mild winters and gentle summers, and water warm enough to swim in all year round. The CSIRO once ruled it the best climate in Australia.
It’s also a region that’s very easy on the eye. Seven per cent of New South Wales is designated as national parkland – with 750 individual designations. Much of this is contained within the national parks and state reserves forming the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia: the most extensive area of subtropical rainforest in the world. This UNESCO World Heritage–listed area includes 41 separate reserves, covering nearly 4000 square kilometres clustered around the New South Wales and Queensland borders.
Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour are the biggest hubs on the Mid North Coast. At Port Macquarie, the Hastings River empties into the sea beside the Town Green Park, where manicured lawns and a boardwalk skirt the river’s edge, shaded by towering Norfolk pines. A boardwalk snakes along the water’s edge, and is a good spot to plonk down with fish and chips, or a sunset ice cream. There are also 10 beaches a short distance from the heart of town – there’s the conveniently located Town Beach, the dog-friendly Nobbys Beach, the isolation of Lighthouse Beach, or the point breaks at Rainbow Beach. Sandwiched between twin headlands and protected from winds, Flynns Beach is lifeguard-patrolled and is the best bet for families. Thanks to all these options, you can generally find a quiet, uncrowded spot.
Crescent Head, just north of Port Macquarie, is still a quiet ocean-side town in off-peak months, but numbers swell in summer. On arrival, you’ll see why. Recognised as a national surfing reserve, it has a stunning coastline, with one of the longest right-hand point breaks in Australia. Surfing World Magazine covered the spot in the ’60s, bringing it to international attention. When conditions are right, beautiful lines of swell swing around the point and peel along the coastline. The spot is so venerated among the surfing community that a strange controversy cropped up in town. Locals protested against the Kempsey Shire Council digging up the parking space that overlooks the break to construct a landscaped coastal walkway. Locals described the car park as a ‘sacrosanct gathering place for surfers’.
This is just a sneak peek! To read more, check out the Summer Edition of Caravanning Australia.
Pictured: Coffs Harbour. Image (C) Ethan Smith