In many ways Coffs Harbour is not unlike other places I’ve visited along Australia’s east coast; it has a marina, several beaches, and a botanical gardens, for example. Despite this sharing the same amenities however, it still manages to stand out; with so much to do in the town itself and local area, but without being too big, it is very much a Goldilocks town. When you have to walk 15 minutes to the nearest supermarket, there’s something especially nice about only seeing one traffic lighted pedestrian crossing, especially when it’s quiet enough to ignore it, and just cross regardless. Allowing backpackers to make the most of this was the hostel I stayed at, Aussitel.
Apart from the several beaches, there is also a meandering creek running through the town, and as such it us great for those wishing to try their hand at various watersports. Not only does Aussitel lend out snorkels, surfboards, paddleboards, kayaks, and even canoes, it does so for free! As any backpacker knows, free isn’t always easy to come by, many hostels will generally charge for wifi, and so with all this on offer I tried to make the most of it. Especially as group activities were organised twice a day.
Thanks to this generosity, it was here I had my first experience of surfing in Australia, and my first in general for what has to be about 15 years; I once tried in Woolacombe, but only managed to get as far as kneeling on the board a couple of times. Here in Coffs Harbour, taking part in the true Australian past time, in the Pacific Ocean itself, I managed it just the once. I won’t try to excuse myself, but will say that my hair is now substantially longer, and despite being tied back as securely as I could manage, still got in the way a bit more than previously. How others can surf when you have to wipe it from your eyes every time a wave has gone by is beyond me, and I can only assume that to passionate surfers long hair is a badge of honour. You get to show off what you can do despite the handicap of it falling in your face all the time.
Not that being unsuccessful spoilt my fun you understand, I still thoroughly enjoyed the attempt, although the kayak through the gently flowing creek was definitely more leisurely. Snorkeling was also great fun, although didn’t have the best visibility, but jumping from the jetty was also a must do, and somehow I managed to win at ten-pin bowling as well. While I didn’t get to try paddleboarding (yet), I still think it’s fair to say that my accommodation at Aussitel was certainly the best value for money.
The activities I took part in courtesy of the hostel also meant I didn’t get to try as many of the others on offer, such as 4×4 jungle trekking, horse riding, and even flying lessons (because what backpacker has a big enough budget for that?), but did get to see a decent amount of the towns more specialised tourist spots.
These included a converted WWII bunker which now housed a small cartoon gallery, and when I visited it also had a display of local nature photography. Just on the edges of the town there is also a small model dutch village simply called Holland Down Under, which is also on the way to the most unique attraction possibly anywhere, The Big Banana.
Following in the Aussie tradition of giving things well suited names (like the lizard with a blue tongue which is called the blue tongued lizard), the Big Banana is just as it sounds.
Accompanying the most yellow of Australia’s big things, this particular tourist attraction also includes an ice skating rink, a toboggan run, and laser quest arena, as well as a tour of a banana plantation. Despite the amenities on offer, I was content to take a few photos, and just enjoy a nice banana crepe for lunch.
Served with banana ice cream of course.