Beyond the blissful beach visits and outdoor adventures the Coffs Coast is best-known for, you’ll find a thriving arts scene and culturally diverse community represented through galleries & collections.
Our region’s active creative sector is reflected in a vast range of offerings. Plenty of galleries, artistic collections, theatre, film festivals and exhibits to choose from. From the one-of-a-kind cartoon gallery to a museum dedicated to Sikh heritage, there’s a Coffs Coast arts destination to suit all ages and interests.
YARRILA ARTS MUSEUM AT YARRILA PLACE
Located on Gumbaynggirr Country along the mid-north coast of NSW, Yarrila Arts and Museum (YAM) proudly opened its doors in September 2023.
YAM is at the heart of Yarrila Place, a new contemporary cultural hub, designed by Coffs’ own Matthew Blair of BVN Architecture and built around a 150-year-old Hill’s Weeping Fig (ficus hillii) in the Coffs Harbour CBD.
The name Yarrila, pronounced YA-re-la, is a Gumbaynggirr word that means “illuminate / brighten / light up / illustrate”. This encapsulates YAM’s vision of illuminating knowledge, arts, heritage, and community creativity.
A testament to decades of dedication, YAM’s journey traces back to the opening of the first museum in 1980 and the City’s acquisition of its first artwork in 1974. This commitment has seen the collection grow to include more than 18,000 objects, artefacts and archives as well as more than 600 artworks.
SIKH HERITAGE MUSEUM OF AUSTRALIA
Opposite the grand Guru Nanak Sikh Temple in Woolgoolga’s River Street, this museum was established in 2019 and is dedicated to Sikh heritage. It aims to encourage a better understanding of Sikh traditions, history, spirituality and identity.
Step inside for an insight into how the first Sikhs came to call Woolgoolga home in the 1890s and immerse yourself in this fascinating culture. The collection also details the vital role the Sikh people played in our ANZAC history, celebrates Victoria Cross recipients, and displays musical instruments and weaponry such as spears, shields and swords.
National Cartoon Gallery
A unique experience that is sure to make you smile, The National Cartoon Gallery is Australia’s first and only exhibition space dedicated to cartoons and cartooning. Formerly known as The Bunker Gallery, collections are housed in an authentic World War II bunker. This has been converted to a modern, larger exhibition space that also includes a theaterette and restaurant.
Housing the largest private collection of contemporary cartoons in the southern hemisphere, you can also enjoy curated and touring exhibitions. Or time your visit with a workshop, performance, film night or event regularly hosted here. The gallery is also well-known for its Annual Rotary Cartoon Awards, which features more than 24,000 cartoons from artists around Australia.
Jetty Memorial Theatre
This ever-popular venue, dating from 1928, delivers an appealing blend of live performances and other great entertainment. From world-class artists to emerging talent and home-grown performers, the season calendar is packed with local and touring stage shows, dance, music, independent films and more. Original art-deco features, superb acoustics and an intimate atmosphere make for a special day or evening out. Wheelchair accessible, the theatre also has a loop system for the hearing impaired.
The Jetty Memorial Theatre is also home to Screenwave International Film Festive (SWIFF), Coffs Coast’s very own annual celebration of film. Now in its sixth year, SWIFF sees more than 120 feature film sessions screened, attracting film lovers from around the country.
Coffs Harbour Regional Conservatorium
The Con is the region’s hub for classical music. As well as showcasing local students, the venue hosts many performances, including the popular Sunday Concert series, which brings outstanding musicians from around the country to perform.
Sawtell Art Gallery
Nestled in the seaside village of Sawtell, The Sawtell Art Gallery is open six days a week and is staffed completely by volunteers.
The Swatell Art Gallery features original art and crafts created by talented artists from across the region.
The Gallery also runs workshops & classes ranging from everything from Watercolour to Abstract Art.