A Backpacker's Guide to the Unexpected, Unbelievable, and Utterly Unmissable Coffs Harbour
As a backpacker, you might have often thought to yourself, "I wish I could find a place that combines the extraordinary charm of a beachside town with the thrilling adventure of a wildlife retreat, all seasoned with a hint of absurdity that defies logic." Well, rejoice! The universe, in its infinite wisdom, has heard your plea and conjured up a place called Coffs Harbour, Australia.
Table of Contents
One does not simply walk into Coffs Harbour, unless one is already in the vicinity, which is rather unlikely if you're reading this site. More likely, you'll carpool into Coffs Harbour with some friends, or hop on a Greyhound bus, the trusted steed of backpackers far and wide. If you're feeling particularly adventurous, or have an unusually large amount of time on your hands, you could even take the train. Once there, the city is navigable by foot, bicycle or public bus. And if none of those options tickle your fancy, you can always hitch a ride on a kangaroo. Just kidding, do not attempt to hitch a ride on a kangaroo. It will not end well.
Things to see and do
The Big Banana
First on the must-see list is the Big Banana Fun Park, an audacious tribute to the city's agricultural heritage. It's kind of like the Eiffel Tower, if the Eiffel Tower were a gigantic yellow fruit. There's a water park, ice skating rink, and a 4D ride that simulates what it's like to be a banana being picked, packed, and shipped off to a supermarket - probably. If it doesn't, it's a missed opportunity.
Next, there's Jetty Beach, a glorious stretch of golden sand and azure waters. If the beach were a song, it would be a smash-hit summer anthem, blasted out of car radios and beachside bars. The jetty is perfect for a spot of fishing, or for contemplating the mysteries of the universe, like why we travel thousands of miles to sit on a different patch of sand.
Muttonbird Island Nature Reserve
But Coffs Harbour isn't all sand and bananas. It also boasts some breathtaking sightseeing spots. The Muttonbird Island Nature Reserve offers panoramic views and a chance to meet the titular birds, who are as welcoming as any Australian local.
For those of you who view gravity as a rather dull suggestion, Coffs Harbour boasts some gravity-defying opportunities that are as exhilarating as trying to read a map in a language you don't understand.
First, there's the skydiving. At Coffs Skydivers, they don't just chuck you out of a plane and hope for the best. Oh no, they give you a choice in the matter. Opt for the Groundrush tandem skydive and you get about 20 seconds of freefall – enough time to reconsider your life choices and maybe pen a short poem. But for those who think 20 seconds is child's play, there's the Maxfreefall tandem skydive, offering a mind-bending 70 seconds of freefall.
It's a bit like being a reverse raindrop, zipping up from the earth towards the sky, only to realise halfway that you're supposed to be going the other way and end up, quite unceremoniously, on the beach at Solitary Islands Marine Reserve. But not to worry, you get to steer the parachute. So even if your brain is busy doing somersaults, your hands can guide you to a safe and hopefully upright landing.
And if throwing yourself out of a plane seems too pedestrian, they offer a 9-stage course that lets you fly solo. Because nothing says 'adventure' like tumbling through the sky, alone, while trying to remember if the red cord deploys the parachute or the mid-air snack bar.
Now, you might be thinking, "Skydiving is all well and good, but I'm more of a water creature." Well, don't fret, my aquatic amigo. Coffs Harbour has got you covered.
Dolphin Marine Conservation Park
Now, imagine the excitement of a day filled with flippers and fins, with dolphins and seals performing their unique dance routines twice a day. Yes, you heard it right, twice a day at 10am and 1pm! The performances are as mesmerizing as that one time you stumbled upon a local band playing in a hidden alleyway in Amsterdam. Except, instead of a smoky club, you'll be at the edge of a sun-dappled pool, and instead of musicians, you'll be entranced by dolphins and seals showing off their incredible skills.
The park also offers a chance to get up close and personal with the stars of the show. You can kiss a dolphin or shake hands with a seal (I assure you, it's much more polite than that chap you met in Prague). You can even go snorkelling with them, which is a bit like that time you shared a hostel room with a dozen strangers, but much wetter and with a much higher chance of seeing something with flippers.
And if you're worried about the time you'll spend there, fear not! A visit to the Dolphin Marine Conservation Park is like reading a captivating novel, it'll take you about two hours, but time will fly because you're having fun.
Jetty Dive Centre
Enter the world of scuba diving. While I couldn't dive into the specifics (excuse the pun), the Jetty Dive Centre came up as a popular choice. Picture yourself exploring the uncharted depths of the ocean, making fishy friends, and maybe finding Nemo (or at least his second cousin).
Dorrigo National Park
If you're looking for something a bit more relaxed, then day tours to places like the Dorrigo National Park or the Solitary Islands Marine Park offer a fantastic escape from the rush. They're like a calm oasis in a desert of excitement.
The world of temporary work in Coffs Harbour is as diverse and vibrant as a teenager's wardrobe. There are as many jobs as there are ways to mispronounce "quokka", and all of them offer the exciting opportunity to earn a bit of dosh while you explore this spectacular corner of the world.
If you have ever fancied yourself as a garlic planter, then Coffs Harbour is just the place for you. The garlic planting industry here is booming, and they are always on the lookout for strong hands and sturdy backs. It's a bit like being a gardener, but with a lot more garlic and a little less Alan Titchmarsh. Who knows, you might even develop a lifelong love for this pungent bulb, or at the very least, a newfound appreciation for garlic bread.
Maybe you've always yearned for the bucolic life? Well, how about volunteering on a permaculture yoga retreat? This job ticks all the boxes: fresh air, physical activity, and you might even get to perfect your downward dog. It's a bit like being in a Jane Austen novel, but with more compost and fewer bonnets.
Fruit picking is another popular option. In Coffs Harbour, they are looking for blueberry and raspberry pickers. It's a hands-on job that offers plenty of fresh air, hard work, and the chance to sample the odd berry or two (just don't tell them I told you). It's a bit like being in a children's storybook, minus the talking animals and with a lot more blueberries.
And let's not forget the event staff wanted for the Summer Salt Festival. Imagine being at the heart of a festival, soaking up the atmosphere, meeting new people, and possibly even getting to see a band or two. This job is as close as you can get to being a rock star without actually having to learn to play an instrument or squeeze into a pair of leather trousers.
So there you have it, the wonder that is Coffs Harbour. It's a place where nature, adventure, and human ingenuity come together to create a backpacker's paradise. It's as if the universe decided to condense all of its wonder into one place. And that place is Coffs Harbour, Australia.