North Coast

Discover the natural beauty, incredible wildlife and rich heritage of the North Coast of NSW, Australia. Relax on uncrowded beaches, go kayaking with dolphins and whales, explore the striking volcanic hinterland, walk in UNESCO World Heritage rainforest, and savour freshly caught seafood.

Newcastle is NSW’s second-largest city. Enjoy a vibrant cultural scene and Merewether Beach, one of several iconic National Surfing Reserves on the North Coast. The heritage is intriguing, too. Fort Scratchley is Australia’s only coastal fortification to fire upon a World War II enemy naval vessel.

Coastal aerial view of Nobbys Lighthouse at Nobbys Head, Newcastle

You’ll find wonderful things to do and see all along the coast, such as the sea caves at Caves Beach or Port Stephens’ dolphins. In Greater Port Macquarie is the Koala Hospital and Timbertown, a heritage theme park. There are national parks to explore and pretty beachside reserves for family picnics.

Whale watching is popular between May and November. Vantage points are dotted along the beautifully rugged coastline, or get up close on a boat cruise. The commonest encounters are humpbacks, the stars of the annual migration because they leap out of the water and roll in the air.

The Coffs Coast is another adventure paradise and home of the Big Banana, one of Australia’s iconic ‘big things’. Go snorkelling in the Solitary Islands Marine Park with Jetty Dive Centre. Nearby is the World Heritage-listed Dorrigo National Park, where the Skywalk takes you above rainforest canopy.

A humpback whale breaching near Tacking Point Lighthouse, Port Macquarie

There are many more outdoor adventures, from bushwalking to kayaking on wild rivers in the Clarence Valley, diving with grey nurse sharks off South West Rocks, surfing world-famous point breaks and skydiving. In Byron Bay enjoy the thrill of kayaking near whales, dolphins and turtles.

Accommodation options suit various budgets, from camping and caravanning in beachside holiday parks and national parks to beach houses, hotels, luxury resorts and hinterland retreats. When planning your holiday, check out the eclectic events calendar for festivals, markets and shows.

Getting to the North Coast is easy by road, rail or air. The Legendary Pacific Drive is a magnificent touring route between Sydney and Tweed Heads, winding past national parks and state forests as well as towns, villages and stunning beaches. Below you’ll find an interactive map for the drive.

THINGS TO DO AND PLACES TO STAY

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Events

  1. National Photographic Portrait Prize

    Wednesday 20 March 2019 to Sunday 21 April 2019 , Port Macquarie

    The National Photographic Portrait Prize is an annual event intended to promote the very best in contemporary photographic portraiture by both professional and aspiring Australian photographers. Now in its eleventh year, this annual…

    20 Mar - 21 Apr
  2. From Somewhere: Todd Fuller

    Wednesday 20 March 2019 to Sunday 21 April 2019 , Port Macquarie

    In this period Fuller reflected on his early memories to the area, holidaying with his family as a child. With the memories of the sea air and the sense of freedom it brings in his mind, Fuller went onto produce a body of work that would…

    20 Mar - 21 Apr
  3. Wauchope Lasiandra Festival

    Event dates to be confirmed: March 2019 , Wauchope

    The first Lasiandra Festival was held in 1984 and it has continued annually since then, always taking place from the second Saturday in March to coincide with the floral spectacular of the lasiandra in bloom. The festival is run entirely…

  4. The Wonders of the Hannah Cabinet

    Wednesday 20 March 2019 to Wednesday 29 January 2020 , Lismore

    The Hannah Cabinet is Geoff Hannah’s masterpiece and was made over a six year period using 34 different Australian and international timbers, four species of shell and 17 varieties of precious stone with extensive marquetry inlays on 18…

    20 Mar - 29 Jan
  5. Outre Surrealism Group Exhibition

    Wednesday 20 March 2019 to Sunday 14 April 2019 , Grafton

    A group show of work by different artists from near and far. Exhibiting work classified in the realm of surrealism with live music by Many bands and artists of various genres and styles. Opening: Sunday 17 March, 5pm-10pm…

    20 Mar - 14 Apr
  6. Paint pARTy Prince Hotel Merewether

    Wednesday 20 March 2019 to Wednesday 19 June 2019 , Newcastle

    Paint, sip and relax with Paint Your Town at The Prince Hotel, Merewether. You'll find them there every third Wednesday of the month. You don't have to be good at art to take this fun class! It's a great experience to explore acrylic paint…

    20 Mar - 19 Jun
  7. Yamba Farmers and Producers Market

    Wednesday 20 March 2019 to Wednesday 01 September 2021 , Yamba

    A few years ago the seaside village of Yamba in Northern NSW was voted by the Australian Traveller Magazine 'the Best Town In Australia'. Not a whole lot has changed except with the introduction of the Yamba Farmers and Producers Market…

    20 Mar - 01 Sep
  8. Bird's Eye View Cartoon Art Exhibition

    Wednesday 20 March 2019 to Sunday 28 April 2019 , Coffs Harbour

    Where would the world be without women? In celebration of International Women’s Day the National Cartoon Gallery at The Bunker, Coffs Harbour is showcasing a special selection of cartoons, from a Bird’s Eye View: women cartoonists and…

    20 Mar - 28 Apr