DRIVES AND ROAD TRIPS

Lucky for some! 13 irresistible North Coast NSW experiences

South West Rocks typifies the strong appeal of North Coast NSW.

Glittering beaches. Famous national parks. Iconic attractions. Unique experiences. And that’s just the beginning.

There is so much to see and do in North Coast NSW that you could write a novel about it.

Instead, we’ve decided to focus on 13 essential – and variable – regional experiences to whet your appetite.

From the cheap to the challenging, do yourself a favour and get stuck into these North Coast NSW treasures.

Exploring Dorrigo National Park has its rewards. Credit: Destination NSW.

1. Admire the views from Tomaree Head Summit, Port Stephens

Take the summit walk (2.2km return) and you’ll quickly discover why this Tomaree National Park vantage point is an Instagram favourite. A climb to the top reveals a gallery of picturesque, panoramic views that magnificently frame Port Stephens and its sensational coastline.

Nearby parks: BIG4 Ingenia Holidays Soldiers Point, BIG4 Karuah Jetty Holiday Park, and BIG4 Koala Shores Port Stephens Holiday Park.

Tomaree Head Summit gifts a majestic outlook.

2. Bring a strong selfie game for big star spotting

Australia’s collection of big things has two major stars in northern NSW: Coffs Harbour’s Big Banana and the Big Prawn in Ballina. And the Big Banana is more than a pretty face: This attraction is home to a fun park boasting an assortment of rides, attractions, and other entertainment.

Nearby parks: BIG4 Ballina Headlands Holiday Park and BIG4 Park Beach Holiday Park and BIG4 Sawtell Beach Holiday Park in Coffs Harbour.

There's much more to the bold, bright Big Banana than meets the eye. Credit: Destination NSW.

3. Relax on a Tweed River cruise

Enjoy frame after frame of majestic scenery without having to do anything more than occasionally twist your neck. There are various and variable Tweed River cruises on offer that allow you to relax in style and often detail interesting snippets of local history. And many incorporate views of iconic Mt Warning (Wollumbin).

Nearby park: BIG4 Tweed Billabong Holiday Park.

The sight of Mt Warning in the distance adds to the allure of a Tweed River cruise.

4. Add your touch to Nambucca Heads' V-Wall

Colourful, creative, interactive. Best described as an ever-growing ‘art gallery’ of graffiti-covered rocks, the V-Wall is a local landmark. And you can get in on the action and keep the tradition alive by painting a rock and leaving your own holiday message.

Nearby park: BIG4 Nambucca Beach Holiday Park.

Make your mark in Nambucca Heads.

5. Wander through spectacular national parks

Gem-rich national parks are dotted throughout North Coast NSW, and we’ve circled two for special mention. Dorrigo National Park is part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area and is highlighted by the expansive Skywalk lookout and the epic Crystal Shower Falls. It’s an hour’s drive from Coffs Harbour.

Meanwhile, near Bulahdelah, Myall Lakes National Park features a massive coastal lake system well-suited to water leisure alongside brilliant beaches, NSW’s tallest tree, and a succession of jaw-dropping vistas best enjoyed from Sugarloaf Point Lighthouse at Seal Rocks.

Nearby parks: BIG4 Park Beach Holiday Park and BIG4 Sawtell Beach Holiday Park in Coffs Harbour and BIG4 River Myall Holiday Resort in Bulahdelah.

Myall Lakes National Park is packed with treasure. Credit: Destination Barrington Coast.

6. Explore the famous Stockton Sand Dunes in Port Stephens

Also known as Worimi Conservation Lands, this is Australia’s largest sand dune system, and it’s also home to NSW’s longest beach. Quad biking and sand boarding are among thrilling activities to enjoy here, while photographers could spend all day composing pretty pics. Definitely one of the best things to do in Port Stephens.

Nearby parks: BIG4 Ingenia Holidays Soldiers Point, BIG4 Karuah Jetty Holiday Park, and BIG4 Koala Shores Port Stephens Holiday Park.

Stockton Sand Dunes features the state's longest beach. Credit: Destination NSW.

7. Unearth fascinating history at Trial Bay Gaol, South West Rocks

Gripping yarns from the past abound within these walls, or what’s left of them. While the gaol has been reduced to ruins, guided tours breathe life into its history and cover such themes as its role as an internment camp during World War I. As a bonus, the coastal vistas from here are spectacular.

Nearby park: BIG4 NRMA South West Rocks Holiday Resort.

Blast from the past: Trial Bay Gaol bursts with fascinating tales.

8. Play golf at beautiful Bonville

Just south of Coffs Harbour is one of the prettiest golf courses imaginable. Bonville Golf Resort is often likened to having a hit in a national park with lush fairways flanked by towering trees, while wildlife and bird species abound. Best of all, it’s easily accessible for the average golfer and a round won’t blow your entire holiday budget.

Nearby parks: BIG4 Park Beach Holiday Park and BIG4 Sawtell Beach Holiday Park.

It's easy to be distracted by Bonville's boundless beauty. Credit: courtesy Bonville Golf Resort.

9. Help protect an Aussie icon at the Koala Hospital in Port Macquarie

This wildlife hospital is committed to conserving koalas, so a visit here is rewarding. Guided tours are full of interest, and of course there are plenty of opportunities to spot these cuddly creatures. Entry is free but a donation is always appreciated.

Nearby park: BIG4 Ingenia Holidays Bonny Hills.

Get up close with cuddly koalas in Port Macquarie.

10. Swim in the ocean baths at Black Head Beach, Hallidays Point

Brilliant beaches abound in North Coast NSW, and each warrants mention. We’re paying particular attention to Black Head Beach for its easily accessed ocean baths and are throwing in bonus points for the area’s beautiful backdrop of Norfolk pines.

Nearby park: BIG4 Happy Hallidays.

Dive into the ocean baths at Black Head Beach.

11. Enjoy the quiet life in Harrington

Among North Coast NSW’s rich appeal is its blend of vibrant cities and quiet villages for getaways both adventure-packed and relaxing. Harrington is certainly in the latter category. Located at the mouth of the Manning River and close to great beaches, this charm-filled village is irresistible for a laidback, battery-recharging break.

Nearby park: BIG4 Colonial Holiday Park.

Holiday bliss: Life is good in Harrington.

12. Hit the ample waterways of Forster-Tuncurry

The NSW coast allows for myriad aquatic fun, and at Forster-Tuncurry it's taken to the extreme. The twin-towns allow easy access to the famed Great Lakes area and are home to inviting strips of sand like One Mile Beach and Main Beach. Whale watching, boating, fishing, diving, swimming, and much more are all enjoyed with ease from these parts.

Nearby parks: BIG4 Great Lakes at Forster-Tuncurry and BIG4 Colonial Holiday Park in nearby Harrington.

Water-filled fun abounds in and around Forster-Tuncurry.

13. Soak up breathtaking views from Cape Byron

North Coast holidays aren’t complete without a list-ticking moment, and a visit to Cape Bryon puts you at mainland Australia’s most easterly point. Cape Byron Lighthouse is a landmark of this spot, which affords a series of astounding coastal views and a wonderful perspective of Tallow Beach and its long strip of golden sand.

Nearby parks: Ingenia Holidays Byron Bay and BIG4 Ballina Headlands Holiday Park.

List-ticking essential: Cape Byron Lighthouse. Credit: Destination NSW.

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