Yuraygir is touted thus, "..provides excellent fishing and surfing opportunities and is said to contain some of the best beaches in the country." Personally, I think that's a bit over the top. There are definitely some areas on the north coast that are certainly its equal or better.
Having said that, the northern end probably has the better of it. Wooli and Minnie Waters offer some great fishing, especially if you have a boat, and Sandon Point is a noted surf spot while at the very north, Angourie is world renowned for its epic waves.
On my last visit I pushed the boundaries a little further and took the walk to Freshwater Beach, the next one up from Pebbly. (pic 4)
Since I didn't have my shoes there were some sharp moments and I managed to get a couple of small cuts in my feet, notably on the headland at Pebbly where the geology means that the striations are near vertical which has made for some nasty edges where the soft rock has left sharp ridges exposed. (pic 3)
At one stage I came across a lovely small branch that had yellow on it and some silver grey. Might get a close up of that I thought. Then it moved. Snakes do that. Lucky it was in an away direction!
On the return journey I saw 17, though none of them turned out to be snakes. It's amazing how much more aware you become after a close encounter.
I've had some experiences here, none better than the last two. On the Tuesday the weather was filthy and I had my work clothes on. I got through the knee deep water at low tide with only having to take my shoes off but when I finally got to the other side it started to rain and I ended up wet all over, despite sheltering beneath the sparse tree cover.
The next day I arrived shortly before midday. This time it was high tide. In between taking photos and frustrating attempts to broach Station Creek it took me about half an hour before, naked from the waist down, I made it over (or through) the flowing water. I had left my shoes behind this day, ultimately not a good decision, but convenient for the crossing. It left room to stash my trousers in the backpack.
When I returned I had a thought as to how good it would be if a vehicle came to this lonely part of the world. This before I stripped, naked to the waist again. Just as I was stacking my gear in the bag, along came a 4WD. How embarrassing. Since I desperately wanted a picture of someone crossing I grabbed my camera and turned the top half of my body to get a shot or two. (see pics 2-5)
That worked fine until Bob the concreter, on his way for an afternoon's fishing, stalled just 5 metres before getting clear of the water. I then had to redress, went down for a chat before Bob decided to go and get help from the 4WD at Pebbly Beach.
This allowed me to strip again and make the crossing back to Station Creek Beach.
There are signs warning people about the varying depths and you are advised to ford at low tide.
Somedays you just happen to get a special shot with your camera. Sometimes others don't rate the shot as you do. It's all a matter of where you're approaching the shot from.
Personally, I just love the opening shot. It clicks for me.
I would have probably felt the same about the second one because it's so hard to get bees in the right position in a flower.
The third is of a banksia flower, named after the slightly lesser known man from Cook's famous voyage who left us with a fabulous treasure trove of botanical knowledge whilst the fourth shows the melaleuca forest after rain. These trees are apparently something of a pest in Florida when they've gone totally feral to the detriment of natives. Here they are completely natural.
The final snap shows a pied oyster catcher wandering the dunes adjacent to the creek crossing.
There's an opportunity for those with a camera to capture some lovely seascapes. I arrived on an afternoon where the ocean was akin to a washing machine and strong onshore winds drove frequent showers across the sky. That's how I arrived at the wierd sky in the opening shot. It's one of those odd shots that keeps making me look at it for reasons I can't quite fathom. That's of Station Creek Beach. The next shot was looking towards Pebbly headland.
The following day was all sunshine, the five day low finally driven away by an incoming high and shots 3 and 4 show you where the sea enters the lagoon. It was slightly downstream where I had to cross on day two
Yuraygir, a national park situated on the coast where the Pacific Highway diverts inland just north of Red Rock and heads towards Grafton. When the highway returns to near the coast it's at Maclean. In between these two points is where you'll find Yuraygir.
I've been three times in from the south. This is the story of those trips.
The road in is 14 kilometres of one way. In times of rain there may be places where water breaches the road (see pic 5). This leads to an intersection where you can turn right if you have a four wheel drive which, strange to say, will eventually take you left. What happens is you reach the beach down this route and then hang a left along the sand until you reach the end and have to ford the creek that feeds the lagoon.
Should you go straight ahead, if you have an ordinary car or such, you reach a carpark soon after where there are barbecues, tables and toilets. This is a vast improvement on when I first went there.
To attain your next objective you walk along an easy trail (pic 4) for over a kilometre across vegetated sand dunes and arrive at Station Creek Beach.
On your left is the creek that you must ford for your next objective which is Pebbly Beach (pic 1). If you walk out to the headland on the right day you might see Sometime Falls in action (pic 2). This cascade is dependent upon tides and swell for it to work. A little further around there's an outcrop of rock with distinctly marble tones that makes for a colourful interlude (pic 3).
About 10 kilometres north of Mullaway there's a turn-off to a National Park. This place, despite being adjacent to the nation's second busiest highway, is seldom visited by anyone, though it's only 14 kilometres down a formed road to reach the ocean, and what a special ocean it is.
The Tasman Sea rolls in and sand holds in the north east corner of the beach so that it is shallow for a long way out to sea. Much more so than any other beach in the Coffs Harbour area.
There's a rocky headland that marks the demarkation point between this long beach that stretches to the southern horizon and Pebbly Beach to the north.
The second time I visited it was filthy weather. Rain clouds scudded across the sky driven by strong winds that buffeted the sand, causing small dunes to form close to the surface. The washing machine action of the surf left foam on the beach and the water was stained an ugly brown with the soil escaping from land.
Adding to the feeling of waste was the area that had been razed en route yet this day it was sodden with fresh falls of rain.
All in all, not what you call your typical beach weather!
After a beautiful drive through the Bulga Plateau you'll have to take the Glenwarrin Rd to get to Ellenborough Falls. These falls are a spectacular sight as they plunge from the plateau into a vertical walled box gorge 160 metres below. We viewed the falls from a lookout near the top We reached this lookout via a good footpath which lead us to a few hundred metres to a full view of the drop. Over here we were able to watch one of the longest single drop waterfalls in the Southern Hemisphere, falling a spectacular 160m to the valley below.
There are also two other hikes to watch the beauty of Ellenborough Falls. From the lookout we've been we were able follow a moderately easy walking track which leads to another viewing platform looking back towards the falls. Quite a view! For the fitter enthusiasts, another track leads to the bottom of the falls. We didn't follow this track. Not that we were not fit, but didn't have any time left that day.
To get to Ellenborough Falls you have to drive through this fascinating landscape. The soil is rich red volcanic soil similar that found on nearby the Comboyne Plateau. The Comboyne Plateau and the adjacent Bulga Plateau are now outlying residuals of the Great Escarpment which, as a result of scarp retreat, has migrated further to the west.
After a beautiful drive through the Bulga Plateau you'll have to take the Glenwarrin Road to get to Ellenborough Falls. It's quite a beautiful hike, with lot's of beautiful nature to admire.
Ellenborough Falls is located on the Bulga Plateau. The Bulga Plateau is a protected landscape and has regional scenic significance. The landscape mainly consists of a steep dissected sedimentary escarpment interspersed with numerous volcanic plugs and associated trachyte flows. The upper escarpment is fringed by a fertile basalt plateau, while lower down plunging ridgelines and low rounded hills dissipate into a subdues landscape of alluvial terraces.
To get to Ellenborough Falls you have to drive through this fascinating landscape.
The migratory route of the humpback whale passes close to Coffs, especially near Arrawarra where there are a series of rock build ups underwater that they can scratch the barnacles off with. Thus, if you are out their during the migration, you can be fairly assured that you will see some, as I did.
I find it sad to think that some countries would spend millions of dollars trying to convince people that they should be allowed to slaughter these fabulous creatures. Surely their money could be better spend elsewhere?
The aptly named group of islands are scattered widely across the ocean off Coffs Harbour. They are all part of marine parks and you aren't allowed on them unless by permission from the National Parks and Wildlife and that'll cost you.
Still, they are nice to look at if you happen to be fortunate enough to be out on the waters, as I was, fishing or boating in general.
This particular one happens to be North West Solitary and it's located off Arrawarra, a beach around 30 kilometres north of Coffs.
There's no big sign proclaiming this beach, just another turnoff off the Pacific Highway. It's a picturesque little spot though with colourful panoramas of the Tasman Sea.
The first shot is taken looking south after I scrambled up a steep cliff face almost into someone's backyard. It gives a good indication of the type of development that has taken place in the Coffs area if you blow it up and see the numerous apartment style building dotted on the hillsides.
The second shot was taken by turning 90 degrees out to sea and brings into view one of the Solitary Islands, noted for their diving to the point where they are marine reserves. There are a few commercial companies that will take you out but the word on the grapevine is that the one at Mullaway is the best.
Sapphire is located about 5 kms north of Coffs and you take the turn after the one for the standout block of holiday apartments.
This pic is of Mullawarra or Ocean View, depending on whether you use local terminology or the listed name.
I was standing on the southern side of Arrawarra Headland at the time, immediately above a seat erected in honour of the Bali bombing victims. It was put there by a local who lost a friend in the tragedy.
It's one of the great beaches you get north of Coffs and is an area of expansion in the sheme of this region. With views like this, you can understand why.
Just bring your scuba gear and, if you're lucky, you might just feel the tables somewhere in the murky water.
This lovely recreational park, 5 kms in from the Pacific Highway, is one of the first casualties when it floods. Described as moderate on this occasion, it does get worse.
I loved it. A vehicle pulled up. Out popped a canoe. Two children went paddling around the park, now part of the river.
While I was watching, reflecting on the joys of youth, along came a local man of Indian descent who needed transport home.
Thus it was that he ended up in the canoe paddling home along the road. It's path was easy enough to follow, just keep the telegraph poles on your right and disappear into the bush.
Such is life in rural Australia.
And I have to admit that I had a wry smile on my face when I was categorizing this effort and put a tick in the box marked "Other family travel".