The mainstays of the local economy.
Coffs Harbour was named Korff's Harbour' by John Korff, a naval architect and shipbuilder who took shelter in the bay during a gale in 1847. The modification of the name occurred in 1861 when the town site was reserved. Improved access by road, rail and air in subsequent years saw the expansion of the tourism industry. Today Coffs Harbour is one of the major tourist destinations in the state outside of Sydney. Consequently the population rises dramatically in summer.
The harbour became the base of a large fishing fleet in the 1970s which is still very active. Tourism, bananas, fishing, timber and engineering now constitute the mainstays of the local economy.
About an hour away from Coffs, on a twisty narrow sealed road for the last half, there is a small town called Dorrigo that once existed on woodfelling and agriculture. It is fair to suggest that the largest employer these days would be tourism and I, for one, am grateful for that. To see any more of this lovely area despoiled would be a travesty.
There is a National Parks and Wildlife centre where you can get all the information you want on the walks that mostly eminate from the centre.
There is also a treetop walk that I personally think is overrated but you may think differently.
Dorrigo can get cold in winter and it may rain with very little notice as the weather can come in from the nearby ocean, hit the mountain barrier and dump before you know it.
Still, I love the place and it's especially pretty in autumn and winter. Definitely a wonderful day trip out of Coffs.
My favourite steak sandwich + chips
Always fresh and always friendly could easily be their motto. This great little eatery opens onto the courtyard that also services my favourite pizza and cake shops and allows for alfresco dining in a fairly protected and pleasant area. It is always busy, which would be the way that most people can judge a fast food shop, yet the owners and other workers enjoy a joke and never appear to be impatient. Come winter time I know that people can also choose to dine in........inside is always warm, and the food is piping hot. They use a very tender cut of steak, they cook it exactly right for me and the salad that comes with it is always fresh and fantastic. I have also had the seafood and the hamburgers are with homemade patties that are super delicious too. I usually come in on a Wednesday evening. I do all the good work at tai chi and then, too tired to cook I let the crew here do it for me.........does this sound right - exercise first, eat second? Well it works for me.
Bruxner Park Flora Reserve, managed by Forests NSW, consists of 407ha of dense rainforest and eucalypt forest in Orara East State Forest. Just a 10-minute drive west of the city of Coffs Harbour, Bruxner Park is one of Coffs Coast’s most accessible and popular reserves.
Thanks to its proximity to urban areas and its range of walking trails, scenic lookout points, picnic shelters and barbecue facilities, the park attracts around 200,000 people per year.
You can drive up to The Gap through banana plantations and avocado groves, park the car and start one of several walking trails. Drive 2km further to Sealy Lookout where more parking, barbecues, picnic shelters and toilets are provided.
At an elevation of 310m, Sealy Lookout provides excellent views over Coffs Harbour and south along the coastline. The Bruxner Park area was the scene of regular logging operations from the 1880s until 1914 when the British Australian Timber (BAT) Company’s sawmill at the Coffs Harbour Jetty burnt down. A logging tramline wound its way down from just past The Gap in Bruxner Park to the Jetty, along the route that is now Bruxner Park Road, the access road to the reserve.
In 1933, the Minister for Forests and local Member, the Hon. Roy Vincent MLA, was sympathetic to local voices wishing to preserve the luxuriant forest types of the area and exclude it from future logging. He directed that a reserve should be established and named ‘Bruxner Park’ after Lt. Col. The Hon. M.F. Bruxner MLA, then Deputy Premier of NSW. Due to procedural delays and then the war, the declaration of the Flora Reserve wasn’t actually officially finalised until 1958.
In 1961, the Hon. R.S. Vincent himself was honoured for his role in creating the reserve, when a large Flooded Gum along Bruxner Park Road was named after him. At a height of 65m and a diameter at breast height of 2.27m, the “Vincent Tree” is one of the biggest trees in New South Wales.
In 1970, H.M. Queen Elizabeth II and members of the Royal Family visited the Flora Reserve and Sealy Lookout as part of the Bicentenary Celebrations’ Royal Visit to Australia.
Bruxner Park was declared a Flora Reserve because of its abundance of contrasting forest types and to permanently conserve its flora and fauna. The park’s vegetation ranges from the flooded gum, blackbutt, blue gum, tallowwood, forest oak and turpentine of the eucalypt forest, to the booyong, yellow carabeen, crabapple, birds-nests, elk-horns and vines of the rainforest.
Coffs Harbour - halfway town
The Pacific Highway is Australia's second busiest highway but, it is Australia's busiest tourist highway.
Let's be honest here, tourists love to come and see beaches and Coffs is conveniently located halfway between Sydney and Brisbane, an area with some of the world's finest sandy places.
Fortunately, tourists don't get to see the really good ones so they don't get crowded (part of the attraction) but there are still plenty of nice ones that will more than satisfy the traveller from overseas.
So it is that many trippers end up in Port Macquarie, Coffs and Byron Bay before reaching the fabled Gold Coast, commercialism's showcase.
Coffs is set in a natural amphitheatre of banana plantations, although they're in decline, and it's said that you can tell when it's going to rain by looking at the hills out the back. If the clouds are above the hills it's not going to rain, if they're touching the hills it's time to get out the umbrella. Coffs is renowned for afternoon storms in summer.
For years, Coffs was known for the "Big Banana" a tourist attraction that featured just that and a few shops but it was a prerequisite, especially if you were travelling with kids, that you stop and take a photograph there. Nothing much has changed today except that Coffs has grown big and ugly in my opinion due to poor development planning. Some of the reason for its attractiveness, the sub tropical rain forest by the beach, has been flattened by developers and no longer exists.
It is a vibrant place however and has over 60 motels along with pubs, backpacker accommodation, caravan parks and camping sites, a legacy of being a halfway point.
There are many small attractions in and around the town and also some significant ones nearby, making a stay of a few days here easy to justify.
"A potted history"
Coffs Harbour was named Korff's Harbour' by John Korff, a naval architect and shipbuilder who sheltered in the bay during a gale in 1847. The name change happened in 1861 when the town site was reserved.
Although some agriculture developed, cedar getting was the main reason people came in the early years.
The harbour itself was so poor that it led to a boycott in 1865 when the ship "Carrywell" went down. The construction of a lighthouse in 1878 alleviated much of the problem, and, along with a southern breakwall and a marina, has made mooring a lot safer though a swell still gets through when the seas a big.
Around 1880 the area started to expand, having been opened up for selection from 1863, but the high prices asked for the lush river flats slowed development although the land along the flats had all been taken up by the early 1890s.
A town was proclaimed and laid out in 1886, given the official name of Brelsford, one destined not to last. Forays into fruit, dairying, goldmining and sugarcane had been made by that time. Sugar mills developed in the area but assorted difficulties had virtually killed the industry by the end of the century and you now have to travel further north to see the cane.
Transportation also held the timber industry back until 1892 when a jetty was completed and that, coupled with an access road, saw the timber industry expand. At its peak, 4.5 million metres of timber a year were shipped from Coffs Harbour, an unsustainable yield that led to a shortage of resources and its decline in the 1920s.
Gold mining took place between 1881 and 1898 but much of the gold was only on the surface and the hardness of the sandstone created additional difficulties. Though some ventures were prosperous, all were short-lived. However, they did draw prospectors, some of whom settled in the area as farmers. Today, you can still relive some of the experience at George's Gold Mine that is open for tourists.
Dairy farming came into its own in the area. A butter factory opened in 1910 but the degradation of pasturage and the coming of bananas saw the industry shrink after 1950 and get further hit 50 years later with dairy deregulation.
The railway arrived in 1915 and was linked to Sydney in 1923, having a negative effect on the amount of shipping but an increase in tourism that hasn't stopped since.
A side effect of the railway's construction was the expansion of the banana industry. The first bananas were introduced into the area from Fiji in 1881, but it was the hungry mouths of 1500 workers and their families which provided a boost to the industry.
Coffs Harbour became the country's major centre of production following a disease outbreak that wiped out the banana plantations further north in the late 1920s.
The harbour became the base of
an active fishing fleet in the 1970s. In recent years the coastal fringes for thirty kilometres north have been developed at an alarming rate leading to major problems with infrastructure, such as insufficient water reserves, a fact that surfaced during a recent drought.
A day trip through Bellingen and up to Dorrigo is a popular excursion.
There are a few loops roads around Dorrigo and they take you past some picturesque rural scenery to say the least. Rolling fertile hills with cows grazing contentedly make for pleasant viewing at the worst of times and here is no exception.
Here is a shot I took on a short loop road, only about 8kms or so.