Beyond Bananas in Coffs Harbour

Coffs Harbour has tried its hand at a few things over the years – it’s been a centre for timber export, sugar cane and sugar mills made an appearance, butter was made here, and there was a brief stint of gold mining, but one thing dominated them all: bananas.  

WORDS: Giselle Whiteaker

Bananas were introduced from Fiji in 1881 and Coffs Harbour soon became the hub for a thriving banana industry. These days, there’s been a shift towards blueberries, but as the home of the Big Banana, Coffs is likely to have a banana bent for some time to come. The Big Banana was, after all, one of the first of Australia’s oversized roadside attractions and at the grand old age of 56, the bright yellow beacon is still a major drawcard. There’s more to Coffs Harbour than bananas, though.  

Sitting in a unique position where the Great Dividing Range meets the coast, Coffs Harbour is surrounded by spectacular scenery. A scenic helicopter flight is one way of taking in the area in all of its glory. Another option poised on the edge of the rainforest is Sealy Lookout, home to Forest Sky Pier, a viewing platform that extends above the greenery from the hillside, providing magnificent views across the coastline to Solitary Islands Marine Park. 

Just south of Coffs is the seaside town of Urunga, where you can walk from the boardwalk to the beach, keeping an eye out for stingrays and herons wading in the mangroves. Alternatively, the Coffs waterfront area features golden-sand beaches and buzzing markets – and no visit is complete without a stroll along the historic 975-metre timber jetty 

A slightly longer amble along the breakwater from the harbour leads to Muttonbird Island, a nature reserve protecting a wedge-tailed shearwater breeding site. If you find yourself here between May and November, you may be lucky enough to spot humpback whales as they migrate along the coast. 

Experience Coffs Harbour on a Great Southern rail journey.