Discover active adventures in nature
A biodiversity hotspot and the first ECO destination in NSW, the Coffs Coast region offers plenty of choice for a family bushwalk at any time of year.
Hike to a waterfall, climb to a lookout, and skip along the coastal track with the sun on your back and a cooling ocean breeze. Take your dog, push a pram, or walk along a wide track while the kids scoot or cycle beside you. Pack a picnic, shoulder your fishing rod, or carry your camera for snapping family pics.
Short or long, coastal, creek, rainforest or mountain, we’ve listed our favourite local bushwalks. Challenge yourself to do them all!
REMEMBER: Many of these walks are located in environmentally sensitive ecosystems. Please make sure you stick to marked paths, take all rubbish away with you, and time your toilet breaks for town. In some locations we recommend using reef-safe sunscreen only, and limiting the use of insect repellant… no insects means no food for frogs!
Two walks for the price of one at Red Rock! From the boat ramp, follow the boardwalk beside the river, through mangroves, salt-marsh and paperbarks beside Corindi River. You are sure to see pelicans and might spot a green turtle. The highlight is a secret tribe of gnomes, fairies, and elves sheltering in the hollow of a large tree.
Jewfish Point on the river is a special Gumbaynggirr gathering place, but Red Rock has a tragic past. A plaque on the headland path allows for a moment of reflection. There is a lookout platform, otherwise, supervise kids as the cliffs are unfenced. Down on the beach, admire the tortured folds and faults in the ancient jasper rock.
Pack a picnic, or get an ice cream or coffee at the general store, and relax while the kids play in the playground or on Little Beach.
Walk info: easy to medium grade, cafes and picnic areas nearby
Did you know? Learn more about Gumbaynggirr culture at Yarrawarra Aboriginal Cultural Centre and sample some bush tucker tour, or take a SUP river tour with Wajaana Yaam Adventure Tours.
For the best walks close to Coffs Harbour, drive up Bruxner Park Road to The Gap. Park at the information sign to explore this beautiful rainforest. The track to your left, and Bruxner Park Road, were originally a tramway taking timber to the sawmill and jetty.
Allow an hour for a leisurely stroll on the Rainforest Loop and Bangalow Track, crossing pretty Bucca Bucca Creek. You’ll see tall tallowwood, groves of Bangalow palms, and buttressed yellow carabeen. In spring, look for the purple fruit of the Rusty Plum underfoot.
Got some restive teenagers needing a tougher adventure? Follow the signposts on Bangalow Track for a leg-pumping climb up Midway Track and on to Sealy Lookout.
For younger kids, the easy Gumgali Track celebrating the black goanna begins on the road to Sealy Lookout near Treetops Adventure Park.
How many goanna artworks can you find along the walk? Perhaps you’ll spot a koala? The track ends at Korora Lookout, with a sweeping panorama north to the Solitary Islands. A soundbar allows you to listen to stories in Gumbaynggirr language.
The cantilevered Forest Sky Pier at Sealy Lookout (Niigi Niigi), high in Orara East State Forest, offers an expansive view of Coffs Harbour and south, on a clear day, to Smoky Cape. There is a shady picnic area, and an excellent café for a post-walk reward.
Walk info: easy to medium grade, dogs welcome on leash, cafe at Sealy Lookout
Did you know? Sign up for the award-winning Giingan Gumbaynggirr Cultural Experience for stories, dance, and damper on Gumgali Track.
Everyone loves a waterfall! Pack a picnic and allow a couple of hours to enjoy this wide trail through the subtropical rainforest to Woolgoolga Creek Fall.
Kids of all ages will love hopping from rock to rock or splashing across the shallow creek crossings. Budding botanists can look for the crimson-red fallen leaves and marble-sized fruits of the blue quandong on the path. Listen out for rosellas in the Bangalow palms.
Stairs lead up the final rocky section to a platform with a view of the falls. Unfortunately, there is no pool, but Woolgoolga has a great swimming beach.
Walk info: Easy grade, 3.8km, picnic area
Did you know? A weir above the falls supplied water to Woolgoolga until 1982. Can you find remnants of the pipes?
Bangalore Falls is in Bindarri National Park, in the Coffs Coast hinterland. Getting there is part of the adventure – either up the scenic and twisty Eastern Dorrigo Way or the 4WD rollercoaster known as Pine Road.
Enjoy a short walk through the forest beneath hoop pines and cabbage tree palms. Listen for lyrebirds calling or the scratch of a brush turkey. The walk ends at a platform with a view of the falls.
After your walk, stop by the Café in the Valley at Ulong, or the General store at Lowanna, for coffee and cake. Or head down Pine Road for a picnic and dip in Urumbilum Creek at Bindarray picnic area (4WD).
Walk info: Easy grade, Cafe at Ulong, picnic area
Did you know? NPWS are building a new four-day Dorrigo Great Escarpment Walk, which will end at Bindarray.
You won’t want to miss the accessible Wonga Walk at Dorrigo National Park, with the insta-shot of the suspension bridge at Crystal Shower Falls. But if you are more energetic and adventurous, continue beyond the Rainforest Centre on the less-travelled road to the Never Never.
Rosewood Circuit is a shady retreat on a hot summer day when the temperatures on the Dorrigo plateau are cooler than the coast. Tree stumps on the ridge tell of logging, while large tallowwood and brush box can be found on the slopes. In late summer, the track is littered with purple Dorrigo plum.
Red Cedar Track, off Rosewood Circuit, is a steep zigzag descent. You’ll hear the roar, then see white water plunging off a moss and fern-covered cliff into a boulder-choked ravine. Be prepared for both slippery rocks and slippery hitchhikers (aka the leech).
Walk info: Medium to hard grade walk, Cafe at Dorrigo Rainforest Centre
Did you know? There are some chilly swimming holes on Rosewood Creek Circuit, so bring your swimmers if you dare!
The photogenic Look at Me Now headland, with a resident mob of eastern grey kangaroos, has gorgeous coastal views, plus tales of disaster and love. You can watch whales pass by on their annual migration while sea eagles soar overhead.
For a short walk, park at the headland, otherwise, take the steps off Emerald Beach. Hidden among the banksia is a fenced gravesite. The Damerall family kept a watch on the weather and signals from the lonely lighthouse on South Solitary Island. Long before text messages and emoji’s, lighthouse keeper Harry wooed Maud Damerall across the waves with morse code.
The sealed headland path is suitable for prams, and there is a playground and café at Emerald Beach. While your pooch isn’t welcome on the headland, the northern part of Emerald Beach is an off-leash paradise.
Walk info: Easy grade, Cafe at Emerald Beach
Did you know? You can visit South Solitary Island and the lighthouse on a National Parks ranger-guided tour with Precision Helicopters.
Walkers, runners, cyclists, families and dog walkers all love the Coffs Creek circuit in the green heart of Coffs Harbour. A mangrove-lined creek, shady forests, wildlife, and artwork make for a lively walk.
How many imprints can you identify at the intriguing Traces artwork at Saltwater Park? Can you find the satin bowerbird nest as you pass the entrance to the Botanic Gardens. Look for the rusty relics abandoned by early timber-getters near forests of scribbly gum and corkwood. Maybe you will hear a land mullet rustle in the undergrowth or see blueberry ash flowering on the Buluunggal Walk section.
Walk the full creek circuit from the city centre to the beach, or choose a shorter loop, stopping along the way for coffee, to fish, or swim.
Got a dog begging for a long run and a good sniff? Head for Gallows Beach, a popular surfing spot, and follow a track through the dunes beneath flowering banksia and casuarina, bounded by the sea to the east and the railway to the west. Birdlife is abundant here, listen for the distinctive shriek of black cockatoos.
Pop through the spinifex grasses onto the beach. Boambee Beach is a leash-free zone, so unclip and let your dog run free as you make your way back to Gallows.
This easy stroll is best at low tide. Keep a watch for 4WD vehicles driving on the beach and horses from the nearby stables out for a trot.
Walk info: Easy grade, dogs offleash beach, cafes and restaurants close by
Did you know? If you scramble onto the headland south of Gallows, you will find a WWII observation bunker. A larger bunker inland houses the National Cartoon Gallery.
Author Yvonne Everett is a local adventurer and publisher of Coffs Trails, Best Walks of NSW Mid North Coast, and 4WD Treks of North East NSW.