SALT IN MY BEARD AND SAND IN MY PANTS
One Bloke’s Guide to a Great Northern NSW Adventure
I hadn’t had a proper shower in days. There I was standing in damp shorts, smelling like bait and covered in sand with the inside of the LandCruiser trashed like a teenager’s bedroom. I was tired, yet energised. It had been a great little escape into northern NSW.
If you’ve been living under a stump, you may not know that the North Coast of NSW is one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in Australia. The ocean and estuaries lure surfers and fisherman alike, and the ruggedness of the National Parks offers the four-wheel drive adventurer a contrast escape from the coffee shops and chaos. Staying the night is not a problem with most of the National Parks offering inexpensive bush camping within walking distance to the beach. If your inner Russell Coight is lacking or you need to cater for the family you will also find small caravan parks with plenty of accommodation options to choose from.
This stretch of coastline is amazing and there are plenty of beach activities to keep you coming back for more. Drop some air out of the tyres and take to the open stretches of beach to look for a surf gutter to fish. Tailor, bream and flathead are regularly caught using pilchards; or try beach worms for whiting and mulloway. The North Coast of NSW has some awesome surf spots too, with many headlands offering peeling right-hand points as well as punchy little beach breaks along the exposed beaches. Go exploring… there are many uncrowded waves on offer, but don’t forget your wetsuit as wintertime offers the best surf with early morning offshore winds. Bushwalkers will also hit the jackpot as many of the National Parks are right on the beach. Walking tracks will take you to scenic lookouts over the ocean where you can observe whales and dolphins as well as meandering through coastal rainforests and bushland.
The North Coast of NSW covers a fairly large area. There are big towns such as Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie and some little gems that you may never have heard of. I’m more interested in the ‘less people more adventure’ side of things – so I tend to bypass the major centres and take more time exploring the smaller towns and National Parks.
MUZZA’S TOP PICKS
Spot the rare coastal emu or drive up the beach to explore Clay Head and Sandon Point. Minnie Water township is somewhat isolated; being surrounded by bushland really adds to the experience. Bring the tent or caravan and stay at Illaroo Campground with toilets and fresh water available. Take an off-road track to Diggers Camp through the Yuraygir National Park or explore the neighbouring riverside town of Wooli.
This cosy fishing village where the Corindi River meets the ocean has a lush headland and bright red rock formations creating a protected cove that is great for swimming and fishing alike. You can stay at the local caravan park within a short walking distance to the ocean and river. Be sure to go for a walk along the mangrove boardwalk and visit the Yarrawarra Aboriginal Culture Centre at nearby Corindi Beach.
Hat Head National Park
Explore Smokey Cape Lighthouse and Captain Cook Lookout whilst taking in the breathtaking coastal views towards South West Rocks and Crescent Head. Visit untouched beaches with bush camping in secluded Hat Head National Park and go for a bushwalk along the Connors walking track, taking you through coastal rainforests and heathland. Just a short drive away there’s the town of South West Rocks, Arakoon National Park and Trial Bay Ruins.
Goolawah National Park
Located near the beach town of Crescent Head, Goolawah National Park offers numerous places to camp and many points of interest as you drive along Point Plomer Road. Visit Big Hill Point, Point Plomer and Queens Head. Point Plomer Road is unsealed and you can have some fun exploring in the 4WD with some challenging sections of track heading towards Port Macquarie and the Hastings River.
Worried about the man in the grey suit? Download the mobile app Shark Smart from NSW DPI. Receive updates on shark activity straight to your mobile device.
Purchase relevant fishing and 4WD permits online before you arrive, as mobile reception can be patchy.
Pack your binoculars as there are many vantage points to get a view of whales and dolphins as well as spectacular birdlife.