You can’t help but stop in Coffs Harbour: the coagulated Pacific Hwy gives you no choice. This regional centre has protected beaches and attractions that appeal to families. Of course ‘family friendly’ can also mean ‘dull and predictable’ but this isn’t necessarily so.
Originally called Korff’s Harbour, the town was settled in the 1860s. The jetty was built in 1892 to load cedar and other logs; it fell into disrepair some years ago but is now restored to its former glory. Bananas were first grown in the area in the 1880s, but no one made much money from them until the railway came to town in 1918.
Banana growing reached its peak in the 1960s; these days tourism is the mainstay of the local economy.
The town is split into three areas: the jetty area, the commercial centre with its malls, and the beaches. The Pacific Hwy becomes Grafton St and then Woolgoolga Rd on its fume-ridden run through town. The city centre is around the Grafton St and Harbour Dr junction. Note that High St and Harbour Dr are one and the same, with both names used interchangeably by adjoining businesses.
The Pacific Hwy is the best way to access the beaches and resorts to the north. South of Coffs is Sawtell, a sprawl of housing developments fronting some fabulous surf beaches, which merge into Coffs Harbour.