Road Trip: Crescent Head to Coffs Harbour

Crescent Head

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From Port Macquarie we drove on to Crescent Head, Australia’s longboarding capital. At the time it was school holidays and the place was absolutely packed! We drove down to the beach front where there was a holiday park full of tents, caravans and holidaying families.

The beach was nice with small but clean waves coming in, and I would have been tempted to go in for a surf, if not for the amount of kids and adults fighting over the waves. I was fairly entertained watching one guy on his longboard, who would be happily cruising along a wave, only to get cut off by some surfer dropping in on him. Every time he’d throw his arms in the air with an exasperated look on his face.

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The next day the crowds were back fighting over the waves so we decided to drive away from Crescent Head along Plomer Road in search of uncrowded beaches. We’d driven less than 10km when we came across a campsite with showers and access to a quiet beach with decent waves. This was more like it.

South West Rocks

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We left Crescent Head after a few days and continued North. Not far up the highway we decided to take a detour to South West Rocks. This is another popular holiday area but not as busy as Crescent Head.

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It’s also one of the few places on the East Coast where you can see the sun set over the water. We arrived shortly before sunset and drove to the Arakoon State Conservation Area to get a good view of the sun going down.

Nambucca Heads

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When we arrived at Nambucca Heads there wasn’t really any good surf but the views made up for that. We went to a few different lookouts that looked over the ocean, river inlets and the lagoon. The striking blues contrasting with the white sand was beautiful.

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Then while we were driving around looking for a shower we came across the ‘V-Wall’. This is a colourful walkway made up of painted rocks. The artists are travellers, families, couples, anyone. I wish I’d had some paint and a brush!

Coffs Harbour

The next stop was Coffs Harbour and this turned out to be a pretty good place to hang out for a few days. The surf beaches were awesome! There’s lots of cheap places to eat (check out Hoey Moey Pub, they do $5.95 meals), and there’s loads of different activities like canoeing, sky diving and whale watching.

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We spent the first day at Jetty Beach surfing mellow waves with not too many people about. I was sitting up on my board waiting for the next set of waves to come in when Chris shouted to me and pointed out to sea. Off in the distance I could see a large splash of water. As I continued to watch I saw a humpback whale throw itself straight up into the air and then crash down on its side. It continued to jump and splash about 4 more times before disappearing. Just being in the water and seeing that was amazing, even though it was so far off.

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Later that day we were driving around the Jetty when I saw a sign advertising whale watching for only $40! It was with a company called Pacific Explorer. So the next morning we got on a catamaran with about 15 others to go on the search for some humpbacks.

I’ve only been whale and dolphin watching once before in Auckland, New Zealand, and that experience had been amazing. I’d seen so many dolphins as well as a couple of whales so my expectations were set pretty high. As we left the harbour the sea was nice and calm and I couldn’t wait to see one of these animals propelling itself out of the water.

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But unfortunately it wasn’t to be. There just weren’t many whales about. Eventually we found a mother and her calf but they were just lazily swimming along, coming up every so often to breathe but nothing else. There were no chances for proper tail photos or spectacular jumps.

Soon after that we could see 2 whales way off in the distance shooting out the water. We set off as fast as we could but by the time we reached them they’d had enough and weren’t showing off anymore. I was pretty disappointed but I don’t blame the company. These are wild animals just doing their thing, so it really does just come down to luck.

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Wanting to explore more surfing opportunities, the next day we went to Park Beach where the waves were huge. We battled our way through them to get out the back where I just sat for a while, getting my breath back and building up the courage to try and catch one of these monsters.

Chris was the complete opposite. I couldn’t believe it when he turned his board and started paddling as a massive wave came up behind him, and before I knew it he was gone. When he finally came back he was like an over excited kid, enthusiastically describing the wave, how he’d caught it, what it felt like. Last time I saw him this excited was when he’d done a crazy run on a snowboard, and it takes quite a lot to get Chris excited! So I had no choice but to man up and go for the next one.

We probably shouldn’t really have been surfing those waves… I’ve never been bashed about and held under the water so much, but on the flip side for the first time I managed to catch a wave and ride along it rather than straight in. The feeling and speed was amazing, and I finally realised why people surf.

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We spent one last day surfing at Coffs Harbour, trying out yet another spot called Diggers Beach, before moving on up the coast.

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