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 of Fort Scratchley Historic Site and Nobbys Beach in 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. Ballina Market

    Sunday 21 January 2018 to Sunday 16 December 2018 , Ballina

    The East Ballina Lions invite you to the Ballina Market at Canal Road Ballina - a monthly market affectionately known as the 'friendliest market around'. Held on the third Sunday of the month, the stalls offer a wide variety of goods from…

    21 Jan - 16 Dec
  2. Festival of the Sun

    Thursday 13 December 2018 to Sunday 16 December 2018 , Port Macquarie

    Celebrating its 15th year in December 2018, Festival of the Sun (FOTSUN) has continued to break records on ticket sales with 2017 its fastest sell out ever. FOTSUN is described as one of the best boutique music festivals you can…

    13 Dec - 16 Dec
  3. Carols Urunga

    Sunday 16 December 2018 , Urunga

    Commencing at 5pm the Carols Urunga evening will be one of song, entertainment, food, fireworks and lots of fun for all. There will be a variety of wonderful foodies with a barbecue and sausage sizzle plus a variety of food and drink…

    16 Dec
  4. Fiona Lowry Exhibition

    Monday 17 December 2018 to Sunday 10 February 2019 , Port Macquarie

    The bush lies deep in the Australian psyche – and in the heart of many of its painters. In Fiona Lowry’s dreamy renderings, the scrub pulses and hums with surface tension. To ‘airbrush’ is to idealise, but as Lowry’s instrument of choice…

    17 Dec - 10 Feb
  5. Meditation and Buddhism

    Monday 17 December 2018 , Port Stephens Area

    Classes begin with a simple guided breathing meditation followed by a teaching and a second guided meditation based on the topic. There is also an opportunity for discussion, followed by refreshments. In each class a different aspect of…

    17 Dec
  6. Surf's Up Exhibition

    Monday 17 December 2018 to Sunday 03 February 2019 , Coffs Harbour

    Just in time for the holidays and summer is the Surf’s Up Exhibition at the National Cartoon Gallery. Featuring a great collection of surfing-related cartoons, original artworks on loan from local artists, with children’s activities…

    17 Dec - 03 Feb