With Rachael required to spend a day working in Coffs Harbour on one of her many business trips, I decided to book some time off and join her to make a weekend of it.
We arrived late on Thursday night, having made the long six hour drive immediately after finishing work. This was especially challenging given my day had started at 2am watching England’s tense World Cup victory against Columbia.
Despite this we were up early the next morning, finding a great little café for breakfast before I dropped Rachael at work for the day. Feeling energetic, I walked towards the harbour, before following the esplanade around to the southern break wall. With clear blue sky, it was a perfect winter day and I was more than happy with my decision to take a day off work.
After a much more relaxing afternoon of reading and sunbathing, I picked Rachael up from work and we returned to the harbour just in time for sunset.
We walked around the marina before climbing Mutton Bird Island, which is linked to the mainland to form the harbour’s northern wall.
The island is a designated nature reserve, and a breeding site for various seabirds, making it popular spot for bird watching. We climbed the short but very steep path to the summit, and were rewarded with beautiful views back across the city, as the sun dipped behind the surrounding hills.
We followed this with a great meal in one of the cities surprisingly few restaurants before returning to our hotel. As is often the case, we were up early the next day in the hope of a good sunrise. We made the short drive to the excellently named Look at me Now Headland, and joined the gentle walking trail that winds around the coastline.
The headland is known for its population of tame kangaroos, and we weren’t disappointed with Skippy and his friends more than happy to pose for a photoshoot. We continued the walk around to the beautiful Moonee Beach, before returning to the car.
Next stop on our Australian Wildlife tour was a whale watching boat tour. Coffs Harbour is renowned as one of the best places along the New South Wales coast to see humpback whales, and with our visit coinciding with their migration north to breed, it seemed too good to miss.
We arranged a tour through the Jetty Dive Centre, and after meeting at the marina we were soon speeding out of the harbour and into the open sea. The tour began slowly with no whales in sight, but just as we were beginning to worry a huge humpback breached just to the side of the boat.
Before we knew it the boat was surrounded by at least five whales, with each taking turns to leap out from the water. It was a magnificent sight to watch the huge creatures appearing from nowhere before crashing back into the water. Several of the whales came within metres of the boat, with the tiny barnacles on their body clearly visible – a little too close to comfort if you ask me!
It was a great way to end our time in Coffs Harbour, and soon after we were back on the road, beginning our long drive back to Sydney.
After several hours of driving we made a brief stop in Port Macquarie, parking at Town Beach before taking a short walk along the coastline to Flagstaff Lookout.
We had decided to split the journey back to Sydney over two days, spending Saturday night in Port Stephens. After arriving late in the afternoon, we enjoyed some food and drinks in the Hope Brewhouse to finish what had been a great day.
Our Sunday morning started with the Tomaree Head summit walk, one our favourite walking trails from travelling. The short but steep 161m climb to the summit is well worth it, with spectacular views of Port Stephens and the surrounding coastline.
The rest of our day was spent making the most of the winter sun, enjoying a walk along the almost deserted Shoal Beach, before continuing along to Nelson Bay where we stopped for a picnic lunch.
After finally dragging ourselves away from the beautiful beaches, we began the final leg of our journey back home to Sydney. With both of us tired from an action packed few days, instead of cooking, we decided to finish the weekend off with a great roast dinner from the Kirribilli Hotel on Sydney’s North Shore.