Nambucca Heads

Deriving its name from the Aboriginal word meaning ‘entrance to waters’, Nambucca Heads is a relaxed seaside town at the mouth of the Nambucca River. Natural beauty abounds, from the sparkling waters where dolphins play, to the pockets of rainforest that line the shore. The town also has a vibrant arts scene, typified by the colourful outdoor graffiti gallery known as the V-Wall.

Nambucca Heads highlights


Port heritage 

Nambucca Heads was an important port with ship building and timber mills in the 1800s and early 1900s. Explore the town’s change of fortunes on the downloadable History Walk, with storyboards on the waterfront and side walks such as the Nyambaga Walking Trail, an interpretive track showing the bio-cultural value of the area. 

A runabout on the calm Nambucca River, Macksville

Nambucca River, Macksville

River & beaches 

Explore the tranquil waterway with Nambucca River Cruises where bottlenose dolphins frolic in the estuary. Golfers are in for a surprise, too, with the 18-hole Island Golf Club located on an island in the middle of the river. 

For sweeping views of Nambucca beaches and beyond, the Captain Cook Lookout above pretty Shelly Beach is a great vantage point for whale watching when majestic humpback whales migrate along the coast between May and November. 

Surfer standing on part of the Nambucca Heads V Wall graffiti wall, Nambucca Heads

Surfer standing on part of the Nambucca Heads V Wall, Nambucca Heads - Credit: The Legendary Pacific Coast

In a beachside reserve at Shelly Beach are picnic tables and barbecue facilities. Beach fishing is popular, and there is a boat ramp at the southern end. Other popular beaches north of Shelly include Beilbys Beach and Main Beach, home of the Nambucca Heads Surf Life Saving Club.

South of the river mouth is Gaagal Wanggaan (South Beach) National Park, jointly managed with the Gumbaynggir Aboriginal people, the traditional owners. South Beach is a favourite for experienced surfers and beach fishers. There are rainforest walking trails, and Warrell Creek is ideal for kayaking.

 Footprints in the sand at Gaagal Wanggaan (South Beach) National Park, Nambucca Heads

Gaagal Wanggaan (South Beach) National Park, Nambucca Heads - Credit: Gaagal Wanggaan (South Beach) National Park

Culture scene 

Nambucca Heads has a surprisingly rich art scene, from the riverside street art on the V Wall, to the changing exhibitions at the Stringer Art Gallery in the Community and Arts Centre. On Bowra St, you’ll find the Nambucca Heads street mosaic, which tells the story of the Nambucca River from the mountains to the sea.   

Couple enjoying a walk along the V Wall, Nambucca Heads

Couple enjoying a walk along the V Wall, Nambucca Heads

Getting there 

Nambucca Heads is halfway between Sydney and Brisbane and only 40min drive south of Coffs Harbour. You can make this a memorable stop on a road trip, as you explore the spectacular NSW North Coast. You can also catch the train from Sydney and the journey takes around nine hours. 

Qantas has direct flights to Coffs Harbour from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane; while Rex flies daily from Sydney to Coffs Harbour Monday to Friday with select scheduled flights over the weekend. Link Airways operates direct flights between Coffs Harbour and Brisbane six days a week.


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